Understanding Birth Control: A Series (I.U.D)
Understanding the I.U.D part 1
As a feminist and a body positive woman I love talking about birth control, but we at SmartFem realize that not everyone knows the ins and outs of birth control, join us as we take our readers on a complex and in depth series debunking, understanding, and talking about all the various form of birth control and how they affect you!
We will be looking at all types of birth control in 2 part stories.Part one, from the perspective of several highly acclaimed OBGYN’s in Arizona and part two from you, our SmartFem Readers living with every day birth control issues.
The 2016 Election opened a lot of doors to new conversation, one of which was the I.U.D. As President-Elect Trump takes office conversations began to surge about the I.U.D Rumors spread, that people were rushing to get them before the new Presidential term.
We here at SmartFem believe one of the most important things a woman should be educated on is birth control, pro-life or pro choice you should know what women are taking and how it affects their bodies. Which is why we decided to dive deep into the I.U.D and explore all of its complexities for this birth control series.
So what is the I.U.D?
My Personal Copper I.U.D Story
I’m laying in bed right now, with two heat packs on my belly, ibuprofen in my system and I’m crying. It’s the second day of my period and my contractions are crazy. I’ve never been like this before, I’ve never had this type of pain in my life and it wasn’t until I had the copper I.U.D that I ever experienced anything as close to this level of pain. Right now, as I type, I’m having contractions, and it’s all from my birth control.
My I.U.D History
Four years ago I started birth-control for the very first time, and within the first month of starting the pill I had serious issues. I gained weight, I became overly emotional, and I started breaking out, I had pain and bloating and beyond all else, at times I didn’t feel like myself.
I went on birth control for several reasons, I’m a 21 year old woman who’s sexually active, I don’t plan on having kids anytime soon, as my school and career is my top priority. That was one reason but the biggest reason was to help a medical issue that I have; ovarian cysts. They can be so painful that I’ve had to be hospitalized for them. When I first started taking birth control four years ago, the plan was start a birth control method…stop my pain.
Ever since I started birth-control all I wanted to do was get on a non hormonal birth control. It was a long process, switching from pill to pill until I finally felt stable enough to stay on one for a while. After the pills became too dissatisfactory I switched to a more long term method, Nuvaring. I was making my way from daily pills, to monthly hormones with the hope that one day I could transition to a safer 10 year I.U.D. The Nuvaring was fine until I started to have emotional and hormonal reactions. After using Nuvaring I suffered severe anxiety, depression and mental breakdowns.
I had to switch birth control methods, and the time was now.
Finally after several doctors visits the plan was made. I was ready to switch to a 10 year birth control. I picked the copper I.U.D (also known as paragard by medical professionals) it felt like the best plan for me, it was longterm, safe for my body and best of all it was non hormonal. Finally for the first time in 4 years I would be in control of my body. I felt like I was ending a chapter of pain, depression, and birth control induced panic attacks, but little did I know I was just opening a new one. All I had to do was get my insurance to cover the procedure and I was set. That’s when the problems started.
Insurance and my I.U.D
Here’s what I didn’t know about getting the copper I.U.D, It’s a really long process. In order to get the copper I.U.D put in, you have to have a surgical outpatient procedure in your doctor’s office. However, in an effort to not pay for the procedure out of pocket, one has to get insurance approval on the operation. It was not an easy undertaking, receiving the A-okay on a coper IUD takes expert negotiation with insurance agencies. In total, to proceed you must get three parties to agree upon performing the procedure. To move forward, my insurance, the owners of the instrument, the copper IUD, and my doctor all have to agree that it’s what’s best for me medically. The easy part is getting your doctor to agree the hard part is getting your insurance to talk to the owners of the copper IUD.
That took months!
On day, I had to spend two hours on the phone with my insurance, explaining to them why I needed to switch to the copper I.U.D, saying that I just wanted to have a stress free, non hormonal birth control, wasn’t what they wanted to hear. To persuade them they needed to hear that my life was on the line, and that my well being depended on the I.U.D.
In some sense, yes, I was dealing with a lot of emotional mental and physical turmoil all created by my birth control but it was very frustrating to spend weeks and months of my time talking to the I.U.D company and my insurance company and having to convince them to act in my best interest. One of the other major problems with the copper I.U.D, is that if I didn’t have all aspects of the procedure covered by my insurance, I would have had to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket just to have birth control. I found that, with most people who transition over to the copper I.U.D, this seesaw of insurance negotiation is the hardest part, particularly, convincing all three parties to allow you to undergo this procedure.
Personally, this is something I really want women to think about before they go rush to get an I.U.D, you really have to put a lot of work into it and I had been actively planning to get my I.U.D for about 10 months before I finally had the procedure.
Unlike other birth controls ,the copper I.U.D is inserted through the vagina into the uterus by a doctor. The night before my procedure I could barely sleep, usually this in-office surgical operation is done when a woman is menstruating. However, my period was a week late and I was stressing! It’s important to have the procedure performed when one is menstruating so the uterus is open and well lubricated.
Finally- the day of my procedure came. I was scheduled for a Thursday so I could take the weekend to heal. I thought I would only need a few days of healing time, but little did I know that the pain would last weeks.
During the procedure/insertion I laid out, hips and legs spread open, holding my mom’s hand as my OBGYN and her assistant instructed me to breathe. I was about to experience 3 severe contractions. To be honest, these contractions were nothing compared to what was to come. A side note to all women preparing for the IUD insemination, yes you will have contractions when the device is put in, its inevitable. It took me a while to sit again after the procedure and finally when I was able to stand, I was helped by my mom, moving one painful step at a time, back to the car.
For the first day- I was mostly fine, I experienced some pain but it was mostly irritation and discomfort. I slept a majority of the day away, until I was awoken in the night by my first set of contractions. That’s when everything went downhill- my body had decided to reject the I.U.D and because your uterus only knows one way to get rid of a foreign object, I went into a pseudo labor. For the next 5 days my body was in “labor”, contractions every 10-20 minutes until one night I laid on my living room floor, hot tears streaming down my face as I screamed in pain. I was experiencing 10 second contractions and suddenly my body was giving “birth”.
When I called my OBGYN the next morning, I found out that sadly this was all too common. Her only advice, take some pain pills, as insurance companies don’t allow OBGYN’s to give out heavy strength drugs for any I.U.D insertions, even though birthing contractions are common.
Life with my I.U.D
Every day is a new journey, this sounds silly but I learned so many unique things about my body from this process. I’ve learned I’m capable of sitting in a meeting while I’m experiencing excruciating contractions, remaining professional poised, and not letting anyone know how much pain I’m in. I’ve learned that I value my own bodies need to grow, over the need to be pain free; meaning I’ve learned a new depth a patience for this beautiful thing I have called a body and that healing takes time.
I’ve had the I.U.D for close to 5 months now, I’m in pain often and yet, I feel in control of my body. For the first time in my adult life, I feel as if the only person in control of my hormones is myself, that my acne is mine, my body is mine and my emotions are all mine. Somehow that makes the pain a little bit better.
Right now, it’s a lot to think of, every time I have my period I have “birth” like contractions. For now, unless they subside I will continue down this path for the next 10 years.
So to all the women suffering from their bodies reactions to birth control, I applaud you. It’s never easy but you are surviving and one day when all of this crazy birth control stuff is better, more human, and fixed…future woman will thank you!
Pros: 10 years of non hormonal birth control.
Cons: Insurance issues, body rejection, heavy periods.
Liked this story? Stay tuned next week for more on the I.U.D
Want to know about other Birth Control methods- contact us!