The IUD Saga
I’m about to recount my experience with the Paragard IUD. The following will have some graphic details about some of the issues I’ve encountered during this process. Please remember that each woman’s experience with an IUD (or any birth control option for that matter) is completely subjective; my experience certainly may not end up being yours.
That said, some history:
I’ve been on some sort of birth control since I was 17. You could say I’ve tried it all: OrthoTriCyclen (two different versions), Seasonale (the 4 periods a year one), DepoProvera (ugh, don’t even get me STARTED on this one), LoetrinFE (I think that’s how its spelled, yet another pill)… and the Paragard IUD (the non-hormonal one). In making the decision to switch from Depo to the IUD, the choice was really simple. One, I didn’t (and still don’t) want to have any kids but my doc refuses to do anything permanent on me, which is rather disappointing. Two, Depo was killing me — my body was up and down, stopped bleeding altogether and I was basically unstable on several counts. Three, I’d been on hormones so long that I really wanted to give my body some sort of respite from all these drugs.
So, I went for the Paragard IUD. I got it inserted on October 1, 2008.
I knew what to expect: heavy bleeding for the first few months, but then it would subside into a normal period. There would also be occasional pain for the same time frame, but again it would fall into a regular cycle. None of this happened. The insertion itself was incredibly intense and painful; if that was what childbirth was like — or even close to it — then I’m glad I’ve made the decision I made. Thereafter, the first 4 months nothing happened. No bleeding, no pain post-insertion… nothing. I was lulled into a false sense of security because what was really happening was my body was getting rid of the Depo in my system (yes, it can last THAT long after the last injection, up to 6 months in some women). After the 4th month, I started bleeding again… and it simply didn’t stop. There was no 28 day cycle, something I hadn’t seen for almost 2 years between Depo and the IUD. It was constant — 25 out of 30 days of bleeding, which drained me and left me in a state I’d never experienced before. It affected my relationship with my then boyfriend (note the THEN part), my sex drive, even my appetite. How could a woman feel sexy in any way, shape or form when they were physically drained, had a low sex drive and couldn’t palate any kind of intimacy with blood in the way? I went to the doctor and told him what was happening, but he said sometimes it takes a while to plateau. He wanted me to monitor it for a couple of months and get back to him. At that time, he gave me Provera in the hopes of resetting my cycle and letting nature work itself out. I was dealing with my own issues at the time between work, school and my relationship… and I just let it go after a while. I accepted that this was the way it was going to be, that I would bleed like this and have shooting sharp pains.
It took about 10 months and the bleeding got down to 15 days out of 30. When I went back for my next checkup, doc still wasn’t happy to hear that I was still bleeding, so he put me on Doxycycline, an antibiotic to help with what he thought was an infection causing my bleeding issue. Even after taking it, it actually changed my 15 days back to 20, and I was not pleased about this turn of events. Then 2 months ago, as a last resort, he put me on pill birth control to see if he could coax my cycle into a regular pattern. I was supposed to take it for 3 months, but about a month ago, I started getting incredibly horrific pains, the kind that had me curling in my seat at work. I was self medicating with pain relievers on a daily basis. It simply wasn’t normal. I decided then that I had to take it out, I refused to go on like this.
The problem was, after taking all those things, I didn’t want to go back on the Pill (I can’t remember to take that sucker for my life) and the other options didn’t sit well with me. I’m not with anyone and not in any danger of pregnancy (for the obvious reason), so I didn’t mind not taking something for a while, but I needed an option.
Today, February 6th, I got my Paragard removed. It was no muss, no fuss actually. It’s weird — I feel good. I wonder if some of it was psychosomatic or if it was all due to that foreign device in my uterus. Whatever the origin, it is gone. Doc suggested NuvaRing, which I will try once I’m off the Provera to reset my cycle again.
This has been an incredible saga, and in the end it was almost all for nothing. I got it to prevent pregnancy and now I have no boyfriend to worry about that very issue. I bled and suffered through pain for no good reason it seems. I’m really disappointed that it didn’t work out. The IUD was perfect for someone like me that wanted a long-term solution — c’mon, what other method gives you 10 years of pregnancy protection? But alas, like I said at the beginning, everyone’s experience with these things is different. I guess my body is just more resistant to intruders.
I don’t mean to get so intimate per se, but I thought it would be important for others to know one side of the IUD experience. There’s a great community on LiveJournal that has a ton of information for anyone looking into getting an IUD implanted:
I hope that those reading this will take some parts of this experience and see how it relates to your own personal situation.