Ingrid the IUD: Insertion Process

My Paragard IUD’s name is Ingrid.  She can be a huge bitch sometimes, but as long as she does her job, we’re going to continue to be the best of friends.  I’m going to tell you a bit about Ingrid – my IUD insertion story. This post is largely about my Paragard IUD (as opposed to Mirena or Skyla).  If you’re unsure if an IUD is right for you, check out this post on Bedsider.  If you’re unsure about which IUD is right for you, this post on Bedsider is a good start, too.


My Birth Control Journey
I started taking the pill when I was 20.  I wasn’t very good about being on the pill – taking a pill at the same time everyday was difficult for me.  After about two years, I opted for Nuva Ring, a flexible plastic ring that gets inserted into the vagina.  I liked this – I didn’t have to think about it everyday.  I thought about it twice a month instead.  Unfortunately, the Nuva Ring caused some serious side effects for me.  Instead of just being irritable and sad the week before my period like before, I was feeling irritable, sad, depressed, and hopeless all the time.  Granted, I was dealing with graduating college and trying to figure out my next step – but the additional hormones were not helping.  One day in October of 2013, I took action and took my Nuva Ring out.  I starting looking for non-hormonal options because with my active sex life and disinterest in bearing children, I NEEDED to be on birth control.

A friend told me about the Paragard IUD.

This photo is not mine – it is from the interwebs. Just a good visual of how big Miss Ingrid is.  

  • How Paragard Works: The Paragard IUD contains no hormones, but it does contain Copper (for those of you with metal allergies).  The Copper works by immobilizing sperm.  Those little guys just get stuck in their tracks when they encounter a uterus with a Copper ninja.  No happy-fun-time for them – the fun has already been had.  Copper friend to the rescue.
  • Paragard Possible Side Effects: heavier periods, longer periods, more painful periods
  • Paragard Benefits: no babies, no accidentally forgetting to take your birth control, lasts for up to 12 years, privacy of no one else knowing what birth control you use (unless you tell them), reversible if you decide you want to have babies, no hormones.
  • FREE PARAGARD:  I live in Wisconsin, USA.  I was able to get my IUD for free through Planned Parenthood because my income qualified me for such services.  See if the Planned Parenthood nearest you has a plan for people with lower incomes.
  • BEFORE YOU GO TO THE APPOINTMENT
    • Take Ibuprofen an hour before.
    • I had my partner drive me to my appointment.  I was happy I made this decision afterwards.
  • Insertion Process:  My normal period is pretty heavy and the cramps are painful.  My OBGYN was nervous for me about getting the Paragard IUD due to the common side effects.  I was more nervous about the insertion process, which I heard from friends and online was pretty painful.  Here’s what happened:
    • Pregnancy Test and STI Test
    • Pelvic Exam: Feet up, let’s spread, it’s time to get down to business.  The OBGYN inserts a gloved finger into the vagina and uses other hand to press down on abdomen to feel for ovaries.  Just like every other annual check up.
    • Swabs Cervix with Antiseptic: This makes your cervix look purple instead of pink.  This will keep the germs out.
    • Speculum inserted:  This speculum (“Duck Lips”) is longer and bigger than the average annual exam speculum.  You’ll notice the size difference.  It doesn’t hurt – it’s just not comfortable.
    • Stabilize the Cervix: Your cervix is really good at doing her job.  She determines what comes out and what goes in.  In order to get your IUD in, a fancy tool called a tenaculum is used to basically clamp your cervix in one place.  (I always picture trying to get something in an unclamped cervix as something akin to a pink dancing donut.)  This doesn’t hurt and it doesn’t feel very comfortable.  It does feel like something has a solid grab on a part of you that you didn’t know had feeling.
    • Measure the Uterus: Next, the OBGYN will insert a uterine sound into your uterus to measure its size.  Some uteri are not large enough for IUDs.  A uterus must measure at least 6 cm to allow for an IUD.  This uterine sound looks super intimidating.  For this part, my cervix would NOT allow that sound inside.  Nope.  My OBGYN said, “Your cervix is just doing her job, but she’s making my job harder.”  It took about five minutes for me to relax enough so my cervix would let her stick the uterine sound in.  In my attempt to relax, I accidentally started hyperventilating, but really, this part is just mind over matter.
      • What this feels like: The sensation is odd.  I couldn’t actually feel the sound going in – I could only feel my cervix’s response to it.  Which was a huge fucking cramp.  This is the best way I can describe it.  Once your uterus is measured, the uterine sound comes out.
      • KATE TIP: RELAX.
    • IUD is inserted: The OBGYN is doing a lot more with different mechanisms to get the IUD in.  All I noticed were two things:
      • When she stuck something in my cervix again: It felt like the uterine sound did – like a huge fucking cramp.  Not great, but not so bad.
      • When she opened up the IUD arms: HOLY SHIT.  WOW.  I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD FEELING IN THERE.  I felt the IUD arms open up in a place in my body that hasn’t been touched before.  Guess what it felt like?  A HUGE FUCKING CRAMP.
    • Insertion Tube is pulled out: The tube gets pulled out.  You now have a T shaped friend in your uterus.
    • Strings are trimmed: The IUD has strings at the bottom of it.  These strings serve a  few purposes:
      • They assist in removal (done by a doctor when that time comes).
      • They help you know if your IUD is too low or high, based on length of strings.
    • Check your strings: It is recommended you feel for your strings so you know how long they should be.
  • AFTERWARD
    • I named my IUD “Ingrid.”
    • I sat in my passenger seat with my hands on my abdomen like I was now carrying something incredibly precious (BECAUSE I AM!).
    • I was convinced I could feel it in there.  (If I could then, I can’t now.)

Ingrid and I have been living (almost) happily ever after for 1 1/2 years now. (More on that in another post.)

Looking for more IUD info?  Check out my IUD community HERE.

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Birth Control 101

I have so many things I want to write about birth control.  I want to write about the fact that birth control isn’t talked about enough.  I want to write about the fact that too many people think birth control is only a political issue.  I want to write about how many women take birth control to make their periods easier to manage.  I want to write about how some women take birth control to make their periods lighter and less painful.  I want to write about how some women take birth control to have periods because they have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, a syndrome that causes women to stop having their periods. I want to write about how some people in our government want to control women’s access to birth control.  I want to write about the personal, societal, and factual implications of this.  I want to write about how certain women have better access to birth control based on their skin color, perceived ethnicity, geographical location, income, perceived gender, whether or not their are in an abusive relationship, and how all these aspects cross over and around and relate to one another.  I want to write about how fucked up it is that people think their personal relationship with their god should dictate other women’s personal relationships with their lady parts.  I want to write about how infuriated I am that the same people who don’t believe in birth control also don’t believe in abortions or helping single mothers take care of their children or access to public education for all children or sex education for teens or taxes for public resources that can help these families thrive or low income housing or ANYTHING that will help the mothers who are trying to take care of children that these people don’t think should be prevented in any way.  I want to write about how necessary birth control is to prevent abortions and struggling single mothers and teen pregnancies.

I could write a novel about all those things.  Maybe I will one day.  Today is not that day.  Today I am going to write about the big BC.  Loving yourself means taking control over your body, especially when some people are trying to take you over, whether it be physically, mentally, politically, and/or emotionally.  Coming to you daily from Madison, Wisconsin!  Fighting the good fight to keep women in the know about what’s to know about your reproductive options!

Enough with my rant.  If you’re into videos, here is a good introduction to birth control.

I found an amazing organization that is everything birth control.  Any question you could ever have about BC at the tip of your fingertips on their website.  Check out Bedsider to get an awesome, interactive view of what’s available.  You can even use filters to find out which will work best for you when.  IT’S TRULY AMAZING.

BIRTH CONTROL 101

  1. Long Term Birth Control (a one time insertion/shot/implant that lasts for a longer period of time, removal by a doctor)
    1. IUD (intra-uterine device)
      1. Paragard (copper, non-hormonal, lasts up to 12 years)
      2. Mirena (localized hormones, lasts up to 5 years)
      3. Skyla (smaller, localized hormones, lasts up to 3 years)
    2. Implant
      1. Implanon
      2. Nexplanon
    3. The Shot
      1. Depo Vera
    4. Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) (for new mothers, a natural way to prevent pregnancy will regular breastfeeding, lasts up to six months or longer)
  2. Shorter Term Birth Control (something that is taken daily, weekly or monthly and can be removed by the woman, from longest lasting to shortest)
    1. The Ring (Nuva Ring – flexible ring containing hormones inserted digitally into vagina, removed every three weeks, one week off, new one inserted)
    2. The Patch (Ortho Evra – thin plastic patch put on skin, new patch each week)
    3. The Pill (taken daily for 24-26 days, many different brands, two different levels of hormones)
      1. Progestin-Only Pills
      2. Combination Estrogen-Progestin Pills
  3. Emergency Contraception (for situations when a birth control method failed or was not used, EC only prevents pregnancy – not STIs)
    1. Plan B (single dose pill that prevents release of egg and/or implantation into uterine wall, must be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse)
    2. Paragard IUD (prevents implantation into uterine wall, also a long term birth control option)
  4. Barrier Methods (per sexual act)
    1. Male Condom (most common, condom put on erect penis, also protects against STIs/STDs)
    2. Female Condom (inserted into vagina with flexible ring, can be inserted up to six hours before intercourse, protects against STIs)
    3. Diaphragm (a small cap that gets inserted into vagina, can be inserted hours before intercourse, DO NOT protect against STIs)
    4. Sponge (inserted into vagina, immobilizes sperm, DOES NOT protect against STIs)
    5. Spermicide (inserted deep into vagina shortly before intercourse, immobilizes sperm, DOES NOT protect against STIs)
    6. Dental Dams (a latex square used for cunnilingus to prevent STIs, does not prevent pregnancy)
  5. Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (best when all combined, work best for people trying to get pregnant)
    1. Temperature Method (record temperature daily to determine ovulation)
    2. Cervical Mucus Method (record cervical mucus daily to determine ovulation)
    3. Calendar Method (keeping track of your periods on a calendar to determine ovulation)
    4. CycleBeads (keeping track of period with string of beads)
  6. Permanent Birth Control (requires surgery)
    1. Women – Tubal Sterilization
    2. Men – Vasectomy
  7. Abstinence (having no sex whatsoever, requires serious self control)

You do YOU!

Which Menstrual Cup is Right for YOU?

A few days ago I wrote a post about having an eco-menses.  All of the products that I recommended are based on my personal experience.  Not everything that works for me is going to work for you.  Here’s a great article a friend shared with me about alllllll the different types of menstrual cups!

If you’re considering a menstrual cup, this article is a great guide to figuring out where to start on your journey!

Some things to think about when choosing a cup:

  1. Have you had children or are you over the age of 30?
  2. Where does your cervix sits – is it high or low?
  3. How heavy or light  is your flow? (Cups work great for both!)
  4. How firm do you want the cup to be?

The article explains each in this list and even has come awesome comparison charts and photos.

Ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Learning to Love Your Period: Inspiring Blood Talk

This image has gone viral, and it couldn’t have at a better time.  Not only did I write my first “Learning to Love Your Period” blog last week, but I’m also bleeding right now.  I think it’s time for me to get back in touch with my photographer side, set up the tri-pod and depict what bleeding means to me.  (And if you haven’t read the article yet or seen all the images —> http://www.scoopwhoop.com/news/insta-photo/?ref=social&type=fb&b=0)   What bleeding means to Rupa Kaur – her images include bleeding on the sheets (above), splattering in the shower, washing these sheets, and sitting on the toilet changing her pad.

Her images all reflect normal life for those of us who bleed.  If you’re a person who has periods, there’s a 150% chance that bleeding on the sheets has happened at least once, if not 85 times before.  Bleeding in the shower – yep.  Washing the sheets – yep.  Changing/cleaning whatever product of choice to soak up your flow – yep.

In my photoseries, I would depict an eco-menses.  I would add photos of:

  • dropping a full Diva Cup on the bathroom floor (but do I really want that to happen again?)
  • my fingers after putting my Diva Cup in
  • handing washing my cloth pads
  • machine washing my cloth pads
  • perhaps watering my plants with my collected Diva Cup blood (would this be called “blooding” vs watering?)
  • wearing my cute bloodstained HareBrained period panties
  • a blood stain I left on my partner’s bed
  • splattering on my really really cute bathroom rug
  • some used cloth pads

Will I share these?  Not sure.  They might just be for me.  But maybe I’ll share them with you, too.

Bleed on, my fellow bleeders!

Learning to Love My Period: Having an Eco-Menses

Aunt Flo. Shark Week.  Girl Flu. Leak Week. Riding the Cotton Pony. The Red River. That time of the month.  Pele’s Eruption (my personal title). Whatever you call your period is up to you.  It’s also up to you how you treat yourself during your period.  A lot of women seem to hate their menstrual cycle.  It has this stigma of being horrible, dreaded, messy, gross, smelly, painful, and unclean.  But periods are a fact of life for most women.  And damn it, I LOVE my period.

I’ll give three important reasons:
1 –  Pele’s Eruption lets my know that my innards are functioning correctly.

2- She lets me know that I’m not pregnant.

3 – She validates those previous week’s thoughts of “THAT’S why my nipples have been SO SORE” or “THAT’S why if feels like my abdomen is REVOLTING” or “THAT’S why I ate that entire box of Oreo’s.”

That being said, I argue that a woman doesn’t completely love herself until she learns to love her period (or at least make nice with it).  Hands down.  This may seem way out there, but making periods fun is possible.  I have fun with my period every month.  The pain of cramps reminds me that I am human.  Those horrible waves of abdominal agony bring me back to my body, into the moment.  As for the mess, I have found a few ways to have a little fun with it.  I’m going to share those with you below.


First things first, I’m all about having a eco-friendly period.  I don’t use dispoables EVERY time (though I do have organic tampons scattered in all bags, jacket pockets, corners of my car – because your NEVER know if Pele is going to have a mind of her own and ERUPT out of NO WHERE.)  Anyways, years ago I got hooked on cloth pads.  I’ve gotten questions about them being bulky – nope, they are cloth, so they just feel like underwear material.
Party In My Pants, a business in my home state of Wisconsin, makes THE BEST cloth pads.  Please check these out

http://partypantspads.com/

My Cloth Pads

My Cloth Pads

The designs are freaking ADORABLE and, damn it, I like bleeding on something cute that’s meant to be bled on for once (unlike all the super cute pair of undies I had that I did not mean to splatter on. Sigh.)


Secondly, DIVA CUPS.  (Some people prefer Moon Cups or Soft Cups – same idea!)  I love my Diva Cup.  I love her, sometimes I hate her, but mostly I love her.  I am super in touch – literally – with my bloodshed.  I know how much I bleed, I know I can go hours upon hours without having to change it, I know that my period blood does not inherently smell.   Another great thing about this lovely friend is that it shortens my period by about two days.  How is this possible?  Think about when you’re bleeding – your lady fluids trickle down the entire inside of your vagina, getting stuck in little nooks and crannies along the way that will hang around and keep your flow super light, yet super stainy in the end.  With a diva cup, your lady fluids drip right in to the cup.  No distractions for that lady color to hang out.  Just – bloop! – right in the cup.  I MUST ADD – I hate my diva cup sometimes because sometimes I still fudge up the insertion process.  By the end of day 1 I get the hang it of again, but I do need a few test spins (literally) before I get her up there correctly.  Practice makes perfect!

Find those here —>  http://divacup.com/

WARNING: You will have to get in touch with your lovely vag, your lovely blood, and the lovely times when you’re learning to use it and it spills all over your lovely bathroom floor.


THE FUN CONTINUES!  I have the Paragard IUD, so for the first year when my uterus, Pele, and Ingrid (as I like to call my IUD) did not get along, I had to deal with spotting, month long periods, and irregular bleeding schedules.  I was looking for a product that would help me on those days when a cloth pad was too much, a tampon was WAY too much, and my Diva Cup was unnecessary.  (You know, those “brown” days?)  I found something that has worked for me for the most part.  Thinx Underwear is basically a built in pantyliner.  Certain styles can even hold a little more than that.  I use these for my brown days, for my heavy flow days as back up to my diva cup, and for my light days when I don’t feel like a pad or sticking anything inside of me.  They also go to a good cause.  NOTE: These run small!! Go by hip size!!

Find those here —-> http://www.shethinx.com/

WARNING: Wearing these undies ALL DAY when you’ve got some lady drips going on can cause some funky smells to happen, despite what they say on the website.  I recommend not wearing them ALL DAY.  (Not that I’ve done this or anything …)


BUT NOW FOR THE MOST FUN OF ALL – THE PERIOD PANTIES TO END ALL PERIOD PANTIES!  THE MOTHERLOAD OF ALL THAT IS FUN AND PAINFUL AND AWESOME AND NOT AWESOME ABOUT PERIODS – http://harebrained.storenvy.com/
These are the funniest underwear I have ever owned.  I stumbled upon these a year or so ago, but they were sold out of everything because everything is freaking hilarious.  “Crime Scene,” “Cunt Dracula,” “Sour Puss,” “Aunt Flo,” “Bleeder of the Pack,” “Evil Beaver” – all names of the undies depicting rage and blood and hilarity.  I suggested they come out with a “Pele’s Eruption” and even got a handwritten comment of “That’s hilarious!”  Hopefully they take me up on it.

Another awesome feature of the HareBrained Period Panties is that the inside is lined in black.  No need to worry about stains – granted sometimes it is nice to know what’s going on down there.  Either way, these patterns are a great way to have fun with your period!

NOTE: Also go by hip size with these undies!! I usually wear a medium in undies, but with these I got an XL because I have more junk in the trunk than I realized!


Thanks for reading!  I hope I was able to shed some insight into the wonderful word of eco-perods and LEARNING TO LOVE YOUR PERIOD! AND LEARNING TO LOVE YOURSELF!!!

Love and hugs to everyone – BLEED ON, MY SISTERS!!!