I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but choosing contraception is a super personal choice. Everyone reacts to contraception differently and it all depends on your body, your lifestyle and your personal preferences. I know, right? This article is groundbreaking stuff. Stick with me.
When I was choosing my next method of not getting pregnant, I wished there had been more information out there outlining people’s personal experiences. So here is mine! It may not be your experience, but it may give you peace of mind when deciding if an IUD is right for you.
First thing’s first: I spent a lot of time on the pill, went off the pill, realized I had polycystic ovaries (on a very painful day that ended in an ultrasound), spent some time dealing with how irregular my cycle is, wondered why my body couldn’t get its shit together, did hours of research and self-diagnosing (not recommended) and finally landed on Mirena as my next contraception choice and my doctor, after presenting me with all my options, agreed.
The main selling points for me were:
The possibility of no periods at all after six to 12 months
Goodbye, irregular, painful, unpredictable periods!
Coming from someone who had no idea if her next period would be in three weeks or three months, this sounded like a dream. And now, about eight months since my insertion appointment, I am reaping these benefits in a big way. I still get a few PMS symptoms and my hormonal acne hasn’t left me completely, but they have certainly calmed down.
The 99+ per cent effectiveness
Like, what? How is this not an option straight out of puberty? That number makes me feel so safe and happy and warm at night, you have no idea. This is a thing I just don’t have to think about anymore. It isn’t an issue.
With the pill there are so many things that can go wrong (read: my inability to remember to take a pill every day, drug interactions, etc.) But an IUD just lives inside you happily repelling any babies that might try to take up residence there. I feel like we make a great team.
The low levels of hormones
Mirena is a hormonal method of birth control, and while the copper IUD is a non-hormonal option, it does not check all the same boxes (periods can often get heavier and more painful with the copper IUD).
Instead, Mirena releases very small amounts of a kind of a progestin hormone also found (in larger amounts) in birth control pills. This way, the hormones are only going to the exact place where they’re needed and are in such small quantities, that very little of it gets into your bloodstream. My experiences with the pill made this a huge selling point for me. I am no longer interested in filling my body with hormones if I don’t need to.
These things are all why I plan to keep my IUD in for the five years it is good for and maybe even replace it if that is what five-years-from-now-me wants. But the road was not paved with sunshine and rainbows…
Insertion is definitely painful
It is like the worst cramp you have ever had times 100 with hot sharp needles stabbing you right in the uterus. But for me, that lasted about a minute and then it was over. I walked to the subway and went to work armed with ibuprofen and chocolate covered almonds and I was a-ok.
Pro tip: take some ibuprofen about half an hour to an hour before your appointment and book it around the third day of your period. I truly believe these are what made the pain bearable.
Some negative side effects
When I got my IUD I was expecting some spotting. I wasn’t really expecting three straight months of a flow that is too light to justify any kind of feminine hygiene product, but heavy enough to destroy every pair of underwear I own. It wasn’t a great time. But now I have all new underwear, which is exciting for me. And now that it is over, I haven’t had anything even resembling a period.
Another thing I was definitely not expecting was three months of acne. I have always had hormonal breakouts, but after I got the IUD, I had full blown, all the time, painful, cystic acne all over my cheeks. It was painful, it gave my self-esteem a good kicking and it was not a great time in my life. Luckily, it lasted for three months and now I just have scars and the odd breakout to deal with, but that was definitely something that could have been a deal breaker for me if the acne had stuck around.
When all is said and done, the good outweighs the bad in a big way. And the bad only lasted for three months for me and I’ll be sticking with my IUD for the foreseeable future.