I decided to get an IUD for no reason other than to be rebellious. A lot of women get IUDs because their bodies respond poorly to the hormones in birth control pills or they simply can’t remember to take them every day, often missing days and screwing up their effectiveness. Plus, the IUD only has a 1 percent failure rate, and it's a popular choice among female gynecologists. I got an IUD because I am a nasty woman and wanted to do something to prove it. I figured this was sticking it to the whole of the white-man-cabinet currently signing away the rights to my uterus. I was waving my angry fist in their faces, saying, SEE, I CAN CONTROL WHAT HAPPENS TO ME! HERE IS A FORM OF BIRTH CONTROL YOU CAN’T TAKE AWAY!
I wasn't the only one to have this startling revelation on the eve of a Trump presidency. With Trump taking office and the imminent repeal of Obamacare, which offers women free birth control, including IUDs, IUD appointments have spiked by 19 percent since Election Day, a startling increase. IUDs can be used for years, meaning they could outlast Trump's presidency.
I got an IUD the day before Trump’s inauguration, a rainy-ass Thursday morning. The problem? I got this IUD as an act of rebellion, and now my body appears to be rebelling against it.
It’s been a little over a week since my mini operation sans painkillers, and I'm scratching my head wondering what the hell I was thinking.
It’s been a little over a week since my mini operation sans painkillers, and I'm scratching my head wondering what the hell I was thinking. I'm a sex writer, and should know all there is to know (or I thought I did), but I'm having copious symptoms no one ever mentioned to me. I’m a sexual health educator, and this is nowhere to be found in the information packet I was handed by the nurse practitioner as I was shepherded out of the exam room.
First Of All, Insertion Seriously Blows
There are two types of IUDs: copper and hormonal. I decided to get the hormonal IUD Mirena, which is 99.8 percent effective at preventing pregnancy and can be used for up to five years. It's covered by my health insurance (thank god!) and has great reviews from all of my girlfriends who have gotten it. Unfortunately, being "the best" IUD doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like SH*T.
Well, the memories of the IUD insertion give me stress hives, but I will relive them just for you. I was whacked out on a heavy prescription painkiller I normally only take for migraines. A friend at work informed me moments before leaving for my appointment that having the implant pushed through the cervix is “The worst pain [they] have ever felt in my entire life.”
It doesn’t matter how high you are, having it inserted feels like having the worst possible period cramp of your life, all while your feet are in stirrups and a gyno is touching you. The doctor uses a device to dilate your cervix to put it into your uterus. This is the same thing that happens when you give birth. Why the hell would you not have anesthesia? IDK. I really don’t.
In short, having this thing put in is MIZ.
Oh, And Then The Pain Doesn’t Stop So?
The doctor told me I would have cramping for 24-48 hours. No big deal, right? LOL. The cramping stopped (kind of), yet I have had serious discomfort since. Not exactly pain, but noticeable discomfort. I can feel the IUD. The discomfort has made it very difficult to sleep or work out. It's like an echo inside my uterus. It's like low-grade cramping, constantly. After a few days, I was very nervous and started Googling.
I couldn't find any info online, so I thought the IUD must have been displaced or the implant had just popped through my uterus and I was probably going to die. I called my doctor's office four days post-insertion, and spoke to a nurse who she seemed very confused as to why I would be concerned or nervous, "Oh no, that's totally normal. You might have discomfort for three months." She was genuinely concerned that I didn’t know what was going on.
Why would I voluntarily have this put inside my body if I knew I would be feeling the residual effects for so long?
The entire time she was speaking, my mind was racing. IS THIS A JOKE? I would not have gotten this sh*t if I'd known this was going to happen. How is this not advertised this way?
Why would I voluntarily have this put inside my body if I knew I would be feeling the residual effects for so long? “It is unusual, but it can happen," Dr. Lauren Streicher M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and author of The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy, tells Bustle. "You have to keep in mind you’re putting an actual foreign object inside of [your body]. The uterus is contracting a little bit. That’s the response to having an IUD. It’s generally mild and gets better with time.”
So why didn’t anyone tell me?! Dr. Streicher says that the cramps you have in the first 48 hours are much worse than the ones you may be experiencing a week later, “Cramps a week later are much milder," she says. "What we tell people is what’s most common. If I told patient everything that could happen, I’d be sitting there for four hours. It’s not practical.”
The Pain Gets Worse Whenever I Need To Poop
I’ll keep this short and sweet, but when I'm bloated, gassy, or need to poop, I'm in hell. The bowel sits atop the uterus, so the pressure makes me extremely uncomfortable. Imagine really needing to poop, while on the second day or your period. Yeah, that’s what it feels like.
I've Had No Desire For Sex
Spoiler: I'm a very sexual woman. In the 2.5 years since I’ve been with my partner, I have never declined sex. That is, until I got this IUD. I haven't been in the mood. Not even a little bit. I tend to get very cranky when I don’t have a daily orgasm. I haven’t come since I got this thing put in, and I don’t particularly care to get off. “People don’t want to have sex when they don’t feel good," says Dr. Streicher. "It’s nature’s way of saying, 'Maybe that’s not a good idea.' [Not feeling good] is going to have a big impact on the libido.”
Now, I certainly think my lack of sexual desire has to do with the fact that being bloated and crampy for over a week does not make one feel sexy. Being uncomfortable down below is not a turn-on.
I had sex for the first time after a week with the IUD. Not because I was particularly horny, but because I was worried about feeling pain during sex. I wanted to find out, even though I was terrified. I wasn't turned on. I couldn't even get wet when bae was going down on me. For someone who usually comes after three minutes of clitoral stimulation, this just doesn’t sit well with me.
Another important thing to note is that my boyfriend can feel the strings. He lost his boner during our sesh because he said it was “prickly." He was rubbing the tip of his penis, looking very concerned about the whole thing, and we didn’t end up finishing. He assures me it was "just weird" and didn't hurt, but I think he was just being nice about it because he knows how self-conscious and uncomfortable I’ve been.
Dr. Streicher says I should actually have this checked out. “It’s not normal, but it’s possible," she says. "He should not be able to feel it. That is worth a trip back to get it looked at. It should not be prickly."
*On hold with my OB/GYN literally while writing this.*
I still have discomfort, but I do think I'm starting to finally feel better as of this morning. I slept through last night and didn’t need to take an ibuprofen.
Perhaps I was too hasty jumping in and getting an IUD, but I did the research and did not know this could happen — and that this was apparently all part of the process. “Wait it out," Dr. Streicher says. "As long as every day feels better than the day before, you’re fine.”
Call me a conspiracy theorist (or simply a woman in pain), but my guess is that if women knew these side effects were possible, far fewer would volunteer to get an IUD. A painful insertion is one thing, but constant discomfort, trouble sleeping, and a lack of sexual desire? Pass.
I understand the importance of the IUD, especially as it pertains to women in developing countries. This long-acting reversible contraceptive is crucial in protecting some women from pregnancy. For many, it’s the best option.
But for someone who was just trying to stick it to Trump and Pence, I do regret making this choice. "Choice" is the operative word here, since I should get to decide what happens to my reproductive organs, always.
Editor's note: This story has been updated from its original version.