My dear readers, are you ready for a little TMI? I hope the answer is yes, because today we’re talking about taking control of our reproductive freedom.
If you are sexually active, you’ve probably given some thought to contraceptives. Of course, condoms are recommended always, as they are the only contraceptive that protects against STIs. However, sometimes a condom is…unreliable. And sometimes, in the heat of the moment, we regrettably forget to pull out a rubber.
I went on the pill at 18 under my doctor’s advice, more so to regain menstrual activity than for pregnancy prevention. I hated the pill: it made me gain weight, get acne, I was super moody, and I despised having my period back. Once my cycle was normalized and my doctor gave her approval, I stopped taking the pill and, well, lived life on the edge.
However, I started to notice a trend. Many of my friends went off the pill and opted for the IUD – an intrauterine device. It’s 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy, and many women stop menstruating altogether. So, when I noticed my friends gravitating towards the IUD route, I naturally became curious.
Them, one fateful night, I found myself in a situation where I was….err…irresponsible. I was too embarrassed to ask whether the boy I brought home had a condom, and I didn’t have any on hand. So, the next morning, after he left, I went over to Shopper’s and spent $40 on Plan B. It sucked.
That incident, combined with the praise many of my friends had for their IUD, prompted me to book an appointment. Four months later, I’m still a happy camper.
When brainstorming for this theme week, I felt it was important to have a blunt conversation about birth control, and IUDs in particular. I’ve been asked numerous questions from friends about my experience, and I am positive that they are not the only ones who are curious.
While I HIGHLY recommend discussing your options with a healthcare professional – such as the ones at LaSalle, who kindly assisted me through this process – I’ve compiled a list of personal stories from a variety of women who have opted for the IUD. I encourage you to do your own research and make responsible choices that best represent your beliefs, views, and lifestyle.
Nevertheless, we thought we’d collect personal stories about having an IUD, in case you wanted to know the deets they don’t tell you in health class.
What did you know about IUDs before you got one?
I knew quite a lot actually because I had learnt about it before in class (PSYC 333 for example) and done research myself. I also had a lot of friends who had gotten them before as well, so I was pretty prepared.
I knew that it had a much higher rate of preventing conception (it was way better than the pill) and I knew I would stop getting my period. For me, those were the two selling points.
Before getting an IUD, I knew that they were an option for birth control that was more effective than traditionally used methods (oral BC & condoms), that they had a much lower amount of synthetic hormones being put into your body as compared to regular oral BC, and that they were associated with lower long term reductions in fertility rates and lower long term risk of cervical, breast, and ovarian cancers.
I have a few friends who had one already and did a bunch of research prior. Overall I understood that the insertion hurt a lot, but it was an over 99% effective form of birth control that lasts 5 years.
I knew that I would have it in for 3-5 years, and that it was the most effective form of birth control. I also knew it had fewer side effects and might stop my period (which is a big W).
Why did you decide to get an IUD?
I decided to get one because I like that the hormones are localized to one place rather than generalized throughout your entire body. I also like that it has the highest pregnancy prevention rate out of any birth control and so I don’t have to remember to take my pills every day!!!!!
It seemed like it was worth the initial pain.
I decided to get one after having negative hormonal reactions to using oral BC and talking at lengths with my mum and naturopath about the health benefits as compared to oral BC
I have been on the pill for acne purposes since high school but got my skin under control through Accutane. I was getting tired of renewing the prescription every few months, picking it up, and remembering to take it at the same time every day. It was too stressful for me, who kept forgetting to take it, to constantly wonder if I there was a chance I was pregnant.
I decided to get an IUD because I know I don’t want to have a child in the next 5 years of my life and wanted to feel like I wouldn’t be in a position where I’d be at risk for a pregnancy, as I have had experiences where condoms either weren’t used or they broke.
Where did you get your IUD? What was your experience like?
I got it at the Student Wellness Centre at Queen’s and the experience was great. Friendly doctor, a nurse there to make sure you’re okay, and you even get a juice box and Advil at the end
I went to the Student Wellness Centre, I went to the doctor who I’d been seeing regularly for my hormonal birth control. I asked her about it, and she was like ya, I put them in all the time blah blah blah. I booked a consultation where I filled out forms etc. On the actual day, she told me to take an advil, drink a lot of water, and wear comfortable clothes. My friend came with me and I had to pee to ensure I wasn’t pregnant, and they swab you for STIs. It was really painful to get put in, and it felt like a really terrible period.
I got my IUD at my naturopath’s office in Fort Langley, BC – Integrated Health Clinic from a Dr Karen Parmar, who specializes in female hormones. The experience was a lot better for me than from the stories I had seen online and heard from others. I had minimal pain with insertion and light to medium cramping for the following 6 hours or so. I spotted for about 2-3 months and then stopped menstruating all together.
I got it done at the Queen’s Student Wellness Centre. The first consultation I went to really freaked me out, the doctor said a few things that made me uncomfortable and after the session I knew I was going to flake out of my appointment but booked it anyway because it took months in advance to get a spot. I went with my friend to get hers done at SWC, but with a different doctor, and I noticed how much more relaxed her doctor was and realized the one I had the consultation with wasn’t the right fit for me, so I cancelled my appointment. I then had a consultation with a younger and more experienced doctor and we immediately clicked, she made me feel so comfortable and happy with my choice to get one. It was a quite painful experience, but she was amazing and talked me through it all while my nurse held my hand. Afterward the nurse got me some juice and helped me calm down and not feel so faint. The doctor and nurse made such an unpleasant experience really nice, with no judgment, so I’m glad I waited until I found the right fit for me.
I got my IUD at the Student Wellness Centre on campus. I really liked the doctor I had at the consult, and she answered all my questions. I went with my best friend for the appointment, and she held my hand the entire time. It hurt during insertion, but realistically felt like 15 minutes of REALLY dry sex. I spotted for like a month straight, and it’s been pretty sporadic since, but I’m happy with the results.
How has having an IUD been? Any embarrassing stories? Any weird things that happened?
Overall, it’s been great, but it started with quite a lot of cramping (nothing I’m not used to though). Weird things that happened: lots of spotting like EVERYDAY for a while.
It’s been fine………I now don’t think about it, but the first few weeks I was pretty weak and in pain for the entire day, which was not easy because I got it during exams. I did experience a lot of spotting after.
I’ve loved having it!!! Has legit changed my life – I used to be severely anemic to the point that I would pass out throughout the day, have extreme nausea in the morning to the point that I couldn’t eat until the early afternoon, and get horribly heavy periods.
I’ve had it for less than two weeks, so I don’t have too many experiences with it yet. The cramps were awful for the first day, but after that they slowly fizzled away (with the help of Advil). I’m looking forward to not spotting because constantly wearing a panty liner is getting old.
I was getting a Starbucks after my appointment but mid-way through I thought I was going to actually pass out so I went and sat down and was so emo and almost cried (I cry in public a lot)
I’m happy with my decision! There was one point over the break where I got really bad cramps and I thought a guy I had slept with a couple weeks prior had knocked it, but the strings were still there and the pain subsided a couple days later, so I think it’s ok. There’s a lot of spotting at first, so have advil on hand. And be prepared to take things easy.
What do you wish you knew about IUDs before you got one?
I think I wish I knew I was going to be incapacitated for a day after at least – I was lying in bed for like 18 hours straight.
How incredible they are!!! It’s like no longer having to worry about anything associated with your uterus anymore – no period, no pregnancy scares, no embarrassing 10PM alarm on your phone, no forgetting to take your BC for the 4th time in a week and having to restart the following month!
I felt pretty prepared and knew what I was getting myself into, but maybe that it would hurt my lower back, my back has been sore since getting it in, I don’t think this happened to any of my friends.
I felt prepared, but I wish there was more instruction for string tests!!
Would you recommend getting an IUD vs other birth control method?
Yes, recommend!!!! Especially for people our age.
1000% ya. It’s so much easier than having to take a pill every day and not worrying about getting pregnant. You don’t have to worry about that with an IUD which is fantastic.
Yes, yes, yes 100% yes!! I would 1000% recommend them to any girls who don’t like oral BC, and especially to anyone with a particularly bad period. My other recommendation is to make sure that they freeze your cervix before insertion if you’re worried about pain! I didn’t feel a thing after the needle (which did hurt) but it was great!!
I think it really depends on individual experiences! For someone like me, who is lazy and doesn’t want to even think about kids for five years, yes. Just make sure you’re still protected from STI’s! Get checked up with your pals.
100% would recommend. I think it’s important to feel comfortable with your reproductive system and be responsible if you’re sexually active. If you don’t like your current method, I’d encourage you to look at the IUD! You do still need to use a condom to protect for STIs, so don’t forget to go in and get checked.