About a month ago, I made the decision to get an IUD. For those of you unfamiliar, IUD stands for “Intrauterine Device” and it’s an alternative form of birth control implanted within your uterus to prevent pregnancy from 3 to 5 years (depending on which type you choose.)
If you’ve been following my IG Stories, then you got to experience the raw footage of before & after getting it (ps, it’s saved as “IUD Xperience” IG Highlight.) No, I didn’t capture it during the actual moment of insertion but I showed you guys my face the minute afterward once the doctor left the room LOL.
What I didn’t realize, when capturing this moment in my life, is that how many of you would appreciate it! Although this is a very personal topic of discussion, I didn’t feel apprehensive to share it publicly. So many of us women can relate to this & I believe my choice to share the experience in real time is more powerful than straight-up explaining it after the fact. It truly overwhelmed me with happiness to see how much it meant to my beautiful followers! I received tons of helpful advice from ladies who’ve already been through it & at the same time, a ton of questions from several women considering getting it for themselves.
Which is why I’ve decided to write this post sharing my IUD experience & answer your questions honestly.
aka no sugar coating!
WHY DID I GET IT?
I’ve been on birth control since I was 15, thanks to endometriosis. During the course of my reproductive lifetime, I’ve had 3 surgeries to remove ovarian cysts and endometrial tissue growing from the bottom of my uterus that somehow wrapped around my colon twice and attached itself to the bottom of my stomach. In short, if it wasn’t removed then it would’ve strangled my colon, most likely resulting in a fatal rupture. Before that surgery, I always had a dull pain in my lower abdomen but it was absolutely excruciating during my period. The main reason I was put on BC so early was to prevent the endometrial tissue from growing.
The particular type of BC pill I was formerly taking I’d been on for about 10 years. My last surgery was about 10 years ago as well. Since then I had zero issues with taking it until earlier this year when I began to feel haunting, familiar pains of an ovarian cyst. After taking some time to see if it was just a temporary pain & realizing it wasn’t going away, I decided to make an appointment to see an ovarian cyst specialist given my history. I had a 2 week wait, during which I woke up in the middle of the night to what felt like my stomach was lit on fire. My cyst had burst.
Lucky for me it was small enough to not cause too much damage; it also saved me from another surgery to remove it. But I was completely shocked this had happened, considering I’ve been on my BC for over 10 years. I couldn’t understand why but thankfully had a specialist to answer all my questions.
Turns out your body, like your hair with repeat washes of the same shampoo, can get used to a BC over the course of time. It was doing its job preventing pregnancy, but it wasn’t as effective in preventing painful cysts. So instead of going on another routine pill & spending unfortunate money each month on refills, I decided to ask about the IUD.
HOW DID I KNOW IT WAS RIGHT FOR ME?
Given my history with endometriosis, I wasn’t sure there was even a type of IUD that would work for me. But turns out there is – Mirena! After finding that out, I knew this decision would be right for me because it corresponded well with my current lifestyle. I’m 28 years old, in a healthy relationship, and no where close to having kids anytime soon. I was tired of taking a pill at the same time every day, along with that damn alarm on my phone that practically screamed “NO BABIES” to remind me. My BC refills weren’t cheap even with insurance (thank you government) & anytime I had to take antibiotics, I practically wasted a pill pack. It was time for a change & a big girl contraceptive.
WHAT TYPE OF IUD DID YOU GET?
I went with the Mirena 5 year. My doctor told me it was the best option for my endometriosis management & the 5 year would provide me with the lightest periods, or none at all, over time. As someone who’s absolutely fed up with monthly cycles, I’m stoked to eventually not have to worry about them in a few months, once my body is used to the IUD.
CAN YOU GET IT REMOVED BEFORE THE 3 OR 5 YEAR MARK?
Absolutely! The minute you decide to try for kids or if you’re not into the IUD anymore, you can easily get it removed without having to wait 3 or 5 years. The 3-5 year mark just indicates how long the IUD will work preventing pregnancy until you have to get it replaced, if you choose to continue with it.
HOW MUCH DID IMPLANTATION HURT?
I won’t lie to you guys, it hurt A TON. I pride myself on having a high pain tolerance but let’s just say I yelled F*CK when it happened (sorry doc!) But here’s the thing – it only hurts terribly for 2 short moments during the 3 minute procedure. 1) When your cervix is FULLY opened (not your average PAP, ladies..), and 2) when the IUD attaches to your uterus. The pain is bad, but it’s gone in an instant. All you’re left with is bad cramps afterward, which honestly feels like nothing after what you’ve just been through.
Here’s the other thing to remember: Yes, it’s painful but it’s only for one moment during 3 minutes of your day. You’ll have one day of bad cramps & then 3-5 years of unwanted pregnancy bliss! It’s 100% worth it.
HOW LONG IS RECOVERY?
The day of insertion I felt pretty beat. I spent the rest of the day sleeping and staying horizontal with a heating pad. But the next day I felt 100% back to my normal self. The only thing I felt were tiny little pinches in my lower abdomen occasionally but that’s it; again, nothing like the pain of the day before! I was back in the gym 2 days later.
IS IT EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY?
With Mirena, yes but not all IUDs are the same. Some recommend waiting one week after insertion before having sex, and using back up birth control for a month as a precaution. Because I got my Mirena IUD inserted on day 3 of my period, it began working immediately with the suggested time of waiting 24 hours before sexual activity. I waited 2-3 days I think because I was still feeling sore & mildly crampy; the experience doesn’t leave you feeling excited for it lol.
I highly suggest scheduling your IUD insertion during the week of your period, within the 7 days of starting it but preferably on the earlier side. I can’t speak for any other IUD other than Mirena, but getting it done while on your period allows it to work immediately. If you don’t get it inserted during your period, then you should wait 7 days before fully relying on the IUD alone.
*This information is what I was told by my doctor; not all IUDs or experiences are the same. Consult your doctor first with any questions regarding IUD performance following insertion.
HOW DOES THE FIRST PERIOD FEEL SINCE INSERTION?
I used to have 3 day periods while on my oral BC. This is my first period since getting the IUD and it’s lasted over a week! I’m feeling more crampy than usual, nothing major but unpleasant AF. I’ve also had a few mornings of feeling somewhat nauseous then immediately starving in a minute, like if I were possibly pregnant. Obv I’m not lol but UGH not fun! All of this is what’s to be expected, as my body needs a few months and cycles to adjust to the IUD. I’ll have longer, somewhat heavier periods for the first few months before they get shorter & lighter. Not all things worth having come easy, I’ll tell you that much. But it’ll be worth it!
*UPDATE: I’ve also been experiencing uncomfortable cramping & feeling like my uterus is bloated post-period week. But that’s also to be expected, as it takes time for the uterus to get used to a foreign object inside it. My suggestion is always keep Ibuprofen or Aleve close by at all times.