Brave New World
Two years ago I had a Mirena IUD put in, and first off lets just cut the crap right now, that was the most painful experience of my life so far. Since then I’ve been regularly period free
The circumstances that lead me to have an in uterine device as my birth control of choice are absolutely worth noting. Since the tender age of 16, I have suffered from painfully heavy and overwhelming periods. In one semester of high school, I had 8 excused absences from missing morning classes alone because of my period. One cycle, my mother ended up sneaking me muscle relaxers from when she had thrown her back out, an option she came upon as I laid screaming in agony at one night when I was home from college. I would end up bringing the unused meds back with me to school.
After turning 19, I had insisted I tried birth control after my roommate came home to me vomiting from the pain of my cramps. My doctor would put me on a low dose ortho-trycyclin. I took this for a while, but being terribly forgetful, getting a regular habit of taking pills would be near impossible. I would struggle to get a regular prescription going in a pre-Obamacare America, as my insurance starting charging $75 a pop for monthly birth control (hashtag fuck you Tricare.) Eventually, I got kicked off insurance completely after graduating from college (again, Tricare you are the absolute worst.) After a number of months trying to white knuckle through the pain of my cramps, and being dependent on 1000 mg of Motrin every time I started cramping, I found myself at a Planned Parenthood with no idea what to expect, half afraid they would tell me there was nothing to be done for me.
Luckily the people at PP are pretty much angels and was then given the Nuvaring and a nifty bag of prophylactics. Nuvaring would end up being slightly better than the pill, but not really better for anything else. As I went off to grad school, I would be introduced to the concept of having a separate provider just for women’s health, as NYU’s health center is divided between women’s health and primary care. My Gyno would insist I start going back to back on my Nuvaring to avoid the hot flashes I was getting. Yes, at 23 I was getting hot flashes, and somehow this was of no alarm to anyone but myself.
Also a side note, I’ve had an acne problem since I was 8. I’m 26 now and even with a Dermatologist there’s an actual planet currently growing on my chin. The only difference between now and high school is now there’s also some sparse hair on my chin as well. So glad I suffered through puberty for this.
The decision to lead me to the Mirena IUD was a recommendation from my Cousin, who raved of the lack of effort needed to use it. I feared most the insertion, and the idea of having something implanted in me, to which she assured me that she got through it, it wasn’t an actual surgical process, and that the pros outweighed the cons. So that winter I would book an appointment at the massive Margaret Sanger center PP on Bleeker Street.
I’m tempted to say the anticipation was the worst part, but again, let me be clear, this shit hurts. I keep repeating how painful this was, because honest to god none of the research I did would own up to what this procedure feels like. If you don’t know how an IUD insertion works, let me break it down for you. They are literally sticking a device into your uterus by going through the cervix. If you’ve ever been a crafty kind of person, and you’ve tried threading yarn into a needle, it’s a bit like that. Again, not saying any of this to scare people who are considering an IUD, for the most part it’s been the best thing to happen to me birth control wise (more on that LATER). But I absolutely believe in transparency here: do not go into this procedure with anything less than OTC painkillers. If you have something stronger, use it (obviously, be safe, don’t abuse narcotics, all that jazz.) The internet is FRAUGHT with people claiming you’ll feel a bit of pressure* and honestly it’s such a fake out (See Rant Below) Ask your friends, talk to people about getting an IUD, feel free to message me about it because word of mouth is going to be the best way to get a perspective
My experience has been pretty great. My cramping has been MASSIVELY reduced, and I no longer have a physical period (I do still have what I would consider a cycle, I still have minor PMS symptoms once a month, some things don’t ever go away.) Additionally one of the things I suffer from on the regular is generalized anxiety, and having a method that is 99% effective does absolute wonders. And again, I have a really bad habit of not remembering to take pills on a schedule. For me, getting birth control was a step in feeling like I had control over my body, and how to help myself. An IUD was the next step in that sense of body autonomy.
I’ve become really vocal about this choice because I think there’s a lot of apprehension surrounding the idea of implanting a device inside of you, as I had myself. The apprehension dissipated when I began to consider all the other things I willing put into my body, whether it be food, drugs, alcohol, piercings all these things, and when considering the body as a whole, an IUD didn’t seem like an intrusion, but rather a point of control. It had the same liberation for me as getting my first real piercing done at 18 (Industrial across the left ear.) And I sincerely encourage people who have questions, to ask. You have the right to make a HEALTH decision based on what works for you.
*also, wtf does that even mean “pressure.” Like are we talking pressure like when you’re on an airplane and the air pressure changes? Weighted blanket kind of pressure? Pressure to take women’s healthcare issues into your own hands because of the patriarchy? Like please explain to me who came up with the very scientific, clinical word, PRESSURE. Am I going to go into an ER and say “oh yeah I broke my arm there's a bit of pressure” NO that’s super dumb. No one would do that. So why do we use that word to define what it feels like to have a plastic device shoved through your cervix? Stop minimizing women’s pain. Pressure is not a descriptor for pain. Accept that it hurts, the shit women go through to be in control of their birth control decisions are painful.)