Are you considering updating your birth control method? If you have even once thought about the intrauterine device (IUD) but don’t have all the facts, look no further! We're here to help you with honest feedback about our experiences with IUDs.
Two BUSTies have IUDs and we have a Pharmacist Tech on staff to answer common questions about the IUD. (You can read Shelby's review of Mirena here.)
There are a few misconceptions surrounding the IUD. I want to clear those up right now because I refuse to let them keep getting in the way!
- IUDs are safe and they have been for a long-ass time.
- ParaGard® works primarily by preventing the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg, making it one of the most effective forms of birth control, with or without hormones.
- You don’t have to have given birth already or be in a monogamous relationship. I had just turned 20 when I got my IUD. I had never had a child, and was NOT in a monogamous or long-term relationship. Or any relationship!
· IUDs don’t increase your risk of pelvic infections or sexually transmitted infections, as long as you practice safe sex while using them. CONDOMS, PEOPLE! Get tested and make sure you throw a rubber on it. If you are in a monogamous relationship you could consider skipping the Magnum action, but you have to have a conversation about trust, getting tested, and the possibility for some hard conversations later, yadda, yadda, yadda. You are smart gals and fellas. Get tested, talk to each other, and make sure that you keep up on your exams.
Truth From a User:
I have had my ParaGard for four years now. That’s longer than my longest relationship. When most people find out that I have an IUD, the reaction usually ranges from total disbelief (“But you're too young! You haven’t already had a baby!”), to fear (“Aren’t those crazy dangerous?”), to total cluelessness (“What's an IUD?!”). I grew up just outside of Colorado Springs, where sex health and choice were never discussed. I received my sex education while volunteering at the Women’s Resource Center at CU Boulder (go Buffs!). While there, among like-minded women who answered all of my birth control questions, I made up my mind to get an IUD.
Now we're getting to the good stuff! Hormonal birth control totally fucked me up. We’re talking crazy mood swings, breakouts, weight fluctuation, and boob soreness and growth. I had been trying out different prescriptions for birth control since the age of seventeen. I tried Yasmin, Ortho Tri Cyclen Lo and a few generics. None of them really fit. It was great not being pregnant, but the side effects were not working for me.
Enter the IUD. (Literally!) The first big question to consider is: hormones or no hormones?
My answer was pretty clear, but yours might not be. To begin with, I wasn’t too crampy and I didn’t have a very heavy flow. These are important things to consider since the copper IUD effects them. More on that later.
If you are the neurotic type, like me, and want the monthly reassurance that you are not pregnant, use the copper IUD. I have friends who have totally eliminated their periods with the hormonal IUD and they love it. That just isn’t my bag, baby. The copper IUD is also long term, remaining effective through the ten-year mark. If you are the set-it-and–forget-it type, this one is for you.
My periods are more reliable than they have ever been. I can predict them, down to the hour. Having an IUD is zero responsibility and upkeep. You don’t have to set an alarm on your phone to take care of it every day. You just check for the thread every once in a while or whenever you think about it.
Sex & the IUD:
I've been with the same fella for over three years, cohabitating and getting hitched, and have never once experienced a pregnancy scare. If that isn’t an amazing endorsement, I don’t know what is! So would I make the same decision, knowing what I know now? Damn skippy. You won’t feel it during sex. He won’t feel it. Not even during deep crazy booty. Seriously. I have never had a fella mention feeling it. Cheers to that!
I want you to know what you are getting into and what you are getting put into you! So, have you ever given your cervix any real thought? Because you will once you get this little fucker put in. It was a short in-office procedure, but damn it got my attention. I don’t want you to get mad at me later when you get one of these and then say that I left out the crazy cervix intensity. Don’t be afraid! It only lasts a few seconds, but I did tear up and have to call my mom afterwards (thanks for taking that phone call, Mom. It couldn’t have been easy!)
The ParaGard can also increase the intensity of your cramps and the amount of your flow. My cramps weren’t too bad to begin with and I knew that this was a real side effect, so I went with it anyway. I have to carry around some extra strength Midol, rock a heating pad, and generally disappear for the first day of my cycle. But after that all I have to deal with is some intense flow. Now I use a Diva Cup (or Moon Cup whatevs) and if you're a regular reader of BUST, you know what I’m talking about. The little soft cups hold about a shot glass worth of your heavenly flow and don’t have to be replaced as often as traditional tampons. Since I made the switch, my increased flow hasn’t given me any trouble. If you haven’t tried them, get on it! They're great!
These IUDs are not more expensive than traditional birth control. Without insurance, I was spending upwards of $70 a month for the pill. My IUD ran just under $600 for the whole she-bang. That included the device and the insertion. I crunched those numbers and I made the right financial choice. Consider the cost over ten years and see if the numbers work for you too. Some insurance plans have even started to cover the cost of IUDs, just like the pill!
Well we have gotten this far, dear reader. I am going to leave you with these final thoughts. In order to make the choice to get an IUD, especially the ParaGard, you have to be aware of your body and your needs. Getting the copper implant worked for me because I didnt have bad cramps or a heavy flow before... and I do now. Real talk. I have learned to deal with the side effects because I remember how much more hormones fucked me up. Remember that my experience might not be yours. We want to encourage discussion below in the comments. If there are any I can answer, I would love to. I'm not an expert, but I am a lady with a copper doo-dad in her vagina.
All Images via ParaGard.com, tumblr.com