In May 2019, I made the decision to switch my birth control method from the use of an oral contraceptive to an intrauterine device (IUD). After sharing and dealing with other experiences concerning my reproductive system, I found that it was important to contribute to the destigmatizing of conversations surrounding vaginas and women’s health issues. If you are interested in learning more about my decision to switch (it might surprise you!) check out this post here! This update is longgg overdue (whoops!), but luckily I still VIVIDLY remember my IUD insertion experience. If you are interested in real-time reactions to the process, make sure to check out my Instagram page and watch my IUD highlight (I was as real as I could get). Here is a good time to remind you all that I am not a doctor and that I am simply sharing my personal experience. Everyone experiences things differently and your IUD experience may not align with mine.
Brace yourself, my (semi) traumatic IUD insertion story is ahead.
Prepping for Insertion
After arming myself with information, I placed the call to schedule my IUD appointments. My doctor’s office requires that you come in for an information session to discuss the types of IUDs, the risks involved, and to answer any questions that you may have before the insertion takes place. The appointment was super helpful because it helped me sift through some of the information that I learned and clarify the hypotheticals that I conjured in my head. In addition to the advice of my doctors, I took to social media and the anecdotes of my friends (because hi, I’m a millennial). I recalled that months earlier, Tomi had discussed getting an IUD in preparation for her wedding, so I scanned her blog post about it. We actually had similar experiences and it would become something that we bond over on social media!
Before my insertion procedure, I used the advice of my doctor and friends to gather supplies that could make things a little easier. The first thing I did was to make sure that I scheduled my appointment around my work schedule to allow for ample recovery time. I heard so many different recovery stories, so I wanted to make sure that I could recover stress-free, no matter what side of the spectrum I was on. Next, I ordered a heating pad (number one recommendation) and stocked up on Tylenol for the pain. Lastly, I made sure to eat breakfast on the morning of the insertion and take pain medication. Fainting is one of the common reactions that people have during the insertion process and my doctor recommended this as one of the safeguards.
I remember nervously sitting in my car minutes before walking into my doctor’s office. I went to the procedure alone, but in hindsight, it honestly would have been nice to have someone with me. After a few deep breaths (and a video to document the experience), I made my way into the office. My doctor explained the procedure to me once more. There would be a clamp placed on my cervix and she would have to “sound” my uterus to measure its depth. To ensure proper placement, she would have to measure more than once. My doctor assured me that we could stop or take breaks at any moment, but that the procedure itself would not take long. Cool.
What happened next can only be described as the most excruciating pain that I have ever felt in my life. I like to pride myself on having a high pain tolerance–my knees chronically dislocate for goodness sake! That was nothing compared to the pain I experienced right there in the cold, sterile office. I begged for her to stop. I agreed to continue. I promptly vomited all over the office seconds after my IUD was in place. I felt mortified and alone. My doctor did what she could to assure me that vomiting was a pain reaction and that it was all perfectly normal. She studied my face and when I had trouble communicated stated that I was in shock and that she could give me a couple of minutes alone if I would like. Yes, I would like.
All in all, though the insertion of my IUD was traumatic, I tried to keep it in perspective. It was a couple of minutes of excruciating pain for 5 years of benefit. After the procedure, there were three things dominating my thoughts:
- This thing better stay in, because I refuse to do the process again. (It’s not uncommon for your body to simply reject having the IUD in place)
- If this is what childbirth is like, I’m not sure if I want it. (right, it’s probs much worse)
- I want my mommy.
I returned to my car and continued to cry. I was in pain, alone, and still embarrassed by throwing up from pain during the procedure when others told me that their insertions felt like a hard pinch. I called my mom and she was able to calm me down. I drove myself home and crawled into bed with my heating pad. Here is a little bit how I was physically feeling after the IUD insertion:
Symptoms: abdominal cramping, nausea
Remedy: ibuprofen schedule, warm fluids, heating pad, sleep
24 hrs post-procedure
Symptoms: Minimal abdominal cramping
Remedy: enjoyed a slow day
In the grand scheme of life, I experienced 10 minutes of intense pain (the longest 10 minutes) to help free up some of my menstrual concerns for the next 5 years. Sharing my story is not meant to discourage you from considering an IUD as a birth control option. I just wish that someone had told me how painful it could be.