I recently made a trip to Planned Parenthood to get an IUD (also known as IUC- Intrauterine Device/Contraceptive), which despite some bad rep it's gotten throughout the years, remains the most effective form of birth control on the market (See chart). I'm a person who has suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety, on top of a genetic history of blood clotting, making hormonal birth control not an option for me. I tried the birth control pill for a few months, and the effects it had on me were next to terrifying. My depression spun out of control, my mood swings were unpredictable, I had no desire to get out of bed in the morning, my sex drive was nonexistent– basically the equivalent to female castration. While some women have had a great experience with the birth control pill (which is awesome!), for me it was a disaster– and I had to stay in tune with my body to realize that it was, in fact, the pill causing these crazy side effects, not just my mental health history. Once I went off the pill, it was incredible how quickly the side effects disappeared.
It became clear that hormonal treatment was out of the question. I tried using condoms as my only form of birth control for a long time, and while they were effective, they weren't ideal for a monogamous relationship where the risk of STI transmission is extremely low– plus, I was developing a sensitivity to latex, which left my vagina sore.
Well, this left me with exactly zero hope that I would ever have a healthy protected sex life. As any person with a vagina and a uterus would testify, feeling SAFE from unwanted pregnancy plays a huge part in being able to relax and really enjoy sex. I was stranded.
One day, a friend of mine enlightened me about the Copper IUD (Paraguard©) and its wonderful efficacy.
The copper IUD is one of the oldest forms of birth control on the market, having stood the test of time while remaining the most effective form of birth control, with the same success rate as permanent sterilization. Copper is a natural spermicide, and the T-shaped device prevents the sperm from getting to the egg. Something you should know about the copper IUD, is that it is also used as an emergency contraceptive; meaning you can get it inserted within 5 days of having unprotected sex and it will reduce the risk of pregnancy by 99%.
There are a few IUD's with hormones if that is your jam, also known as LVG IUD (Levonorgestrel Intrauterine Device) and many women absolutely love theirs! A great thing about the IUD's with hormones such as Mirena© is that the hormones stay in the located area, as opposed to entering your blood stream– eliminating blood clots from the side effects. However, if you're prone to depression, the LVG IUD might not be good for you.
Once you've done some research on which IUD you think might be best for you, book your appointment with your gynecologist to get it put in. In addition, try booking a doctor that has performed this procedure many times before. You can always ask them how much experience they have inserting IUD's.
Here are some ways to prepare before your appointment:
Wear loose-fitting comfy clothing
If you can, bring a friend or your partner to accompany you afterward.
Bring a menstrual pad (your doctor may provide some) as you will spot after the insertion.
Eat something before the procedure, you could faint if you go in on an empty stomach.
Take 800mg of Ibuprofen about 30 minutes before the procedure
Prepare any questions you might have for the doctor.
How is the IUD put in?
The doctor will examine your vagina with gloved fingers and feel for any abnormalities
The doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina, holding it open
The doctor will then slightly dilate your cervix with an instrument
The IUD will be inserted, not as a "T" shape but as an "I" shape, into the uterus. Once in the uterus, it opens up to its T-shape.
Plastic strings hang down from the IUD, through your cervix, and into the vagina just a tiny bit (around 1 cm). These strings allow the doctor to remove it whenever you are ready in the future.