7 weeks after giving birth I found out I was pregnant. Overwhelmed with hormones, shock and pure panic, Mother Nature took her own course and shortly after, I miscarried. As you can imagine contraception became the top of my priority list. I had spent my 20’s on the contraceptive pill. But having now given birth, I eventually decided that hormonal birth control was the last barrier to the more holistic life I wanted to live. A friend of mine suggested the copper IUD since she had a great experience with it.
The copper IUD is a little t-shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to provide birth control. A copper IUD lasts up to 12 years.
I made my appointment and got the copper IUD inserted in less than 20 minutes. I knew there would be some initial pain; I heard from friends they were offered Valium before hand (and now I know why). It wasn’t offered to me and I wouldn’t never attempt it again without it, but I made it and suffered through the cramping along with the next few days of heavy bleeding.
Within a month, the effects of the copper IUD, combined with no additional hormones, began to appear. My skin broke out worse than ever. I would have a heavy period for seven or eight days straight, and for the first few days I would sometimes be unable to walk because of the pain. However, after my second period, it dropped to the usual 4/5 days and far lighter with little to no cramping.
Through all the pain and discomfort, I swore I loved my IUD. I was convinced that these were just temporary symptoms that would go away eventually. There were so many reasons to love it — it’s cost effective, long-acting, I could forget about it and of course it was hormone-free. So why was I having such a terrible time with it? I still held out hope that maybe there was some mechanical problem with the IUD rather than the IUD being the problem itself.
After an over due 6 months of agony, I made an appointment with a gynecologist. I’m glad I reached out when I did because it turned out I had a bent IUD and it was ingrown in to the side of my uterus. The gynecologist was kind and comforting but still maintained a stereotypical straightforwardness — which is exactly what I needed to hear. I told her all the problems I was having, and she responded very matter-of-factly, “Well, then why don’t we just take it out and try something else?” It sounded so simple, but in my anxiety filled mind, this wasn’t something I had considered.
Today I had my copper IUD removed. It was fast, but not painless. I have decided to give my uterus a kind rest for a few weeks. Even this unfortunate event hasn’t stopped me from scheduling a re-implantation in a few weeks.
I don’t regret my decision for a second attempt. I know given the many IUD experiences I’ve heard about, including my own, I now understand that there’s no umbrella “right” or “wrong” birth control method for everyone.
IUDs are getting a ton of attention these days, which is something I’m really glad to see happen. Despite being one of the most effective methods of birth control, the IUD is still severely underrepresented and is far less widely used than the pill or condoms. But just because of the amazing powers of the IUD, plus its increase in popularity, doesn’t automatically mean that it will work for you. My experience is my own and no one else’s. I may have had a negative experience with the IUD, but the reason I got it in the first place was because a friend of mine who loves hers recommended it. My goal here is not to discourage anyone from getting the copper IUD, but to remind everyone that one size does not fit all. Everyone has different needs, preferences, beliefs and opinions about what’s best for our bodies.
Remain open-minded about your health decisions, and don’t ignore red flags. If something doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and there’s no reason to force it. Always try to take a step back and approach a health trend from a more objective point of view. I had a vision of a hormone-free me that clouded the reality of the potential side effects. Don’t be disappointed in yourself or your body when things don’t work out the way you expected. Remember that even if something doesn’t fit into our own personal narrative, your health and safety are what matter most.
Best of luck ladies...
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