Friday, August 3, 2012

[Guest Post] Steph - TMI: An Ode to my IUD

Everyone say hello to my friend Steph! If you've been paying attention, you've probably seen her name 'round here before. Like Calee, we graduated from college together and have stayed close ever since. (Evidence: her wedding, which was perfect and amazing). One of the things I love most about Steph is how well-informed and opinionated she is. I love hearing her take on everything from book reviews to current affairs. And speaking of current affairs, this particular guest post (one that she wanted to share with as many women as possible, but wasn't comfortable posting on her own blog - but I was more than happy to share it here!) is very timely, given the debate surrounding birth control and health care. It also fits in quite nicely with my own personal agenda of preaching about the importance of prevention in the whole pro-life vs pro-choice debate. (Remember, here at [ICTH], we are pro-choice, but we are moreso pro-prevention and pro-education.)


Given the nature of this post, she politely requests that if you stop by her blog, maybe don't mention this particular post (specifically, it's content). As you can imagine, it would be extremely awkward for some of her IRL friends/family to read about her sex life and birth control methods, yes?


Anyway, if you've ever been curious about IUDs (inter-uterine devices) - which I'm sure most of us have been at one point or another - this is a great first-hand look at this under-the-radar option as compared to ones you may already know about and have possibly even tried.

***


TMI: An Ode to my IUD

When i wrote this post originally, i had had my IUD for about one year. It's been several months since then, but i've decided that i can't post this on my own blog. The thing is that I love my IUD and I want to tell women everywhere about it, but I don't particularly want people who actually know me to have to read about it and know more than they ever wanted to about me (besides Kelly and our mutual blog-reading IRL friends, that is). So, dear reader, you've been warned. TMI stands for Too Much Information, and if you don't want it you had better stop reading right now. 

I've been using contraception for many years. Here's a list of what i've tried and how it worked for me:

  1. Condoms. They're interruptive, they can break or fall off, they're smelly, they run out. I love that they exist, but I absolutely hate using them. Not a valid option for me, especially since I really, really do not want babies.
  2. The Shot. Depo Provera was the first form of hormonal birth control that I ever tried, because I didn't trust myself to take a pill every day. It totally messed with my body; it dried me out so that sex was painful, and I blamed it for my first real bout of depression. The hormones were probably not the sole cause of my depression, but i do think that they enhanced it. Either way, not a good form of contraception for me.
  3. The Ring. For a while I tried out the ring because I discovered that when I accidentally missed a pill (see number 4 below) and took two at a time, it made me puke. (The first couple of times it happened I didn't realize what was going on and thought I had food poisoning. I know, i'm brilliant.) Unfortunately the ring gave me a lovely month-long, heavy period, and so I quickly deep-sixed that method and went back to the pill. 
  4. The Pill. The pill was my best friend for a long time. I only ever took Mircette or its generic, Kariva, which I believe was a low-dose pill, and it worked just fine. I took it continuously, meaning that I only had four or five "periods" a year (and I use quotation marks because when you're on the pill, you just bleed. It's not a true period, which is why it isn't necessary). It even made my boobs a little bigger, which was a life-affirming experience. The only difficulty I had with the pill was remembering to take it, which was manageable as long as I left my pills out in plain sight in the bathroom. We had a long, happy run, the pill and i.

  5. I had my suspicions, though, that constantly putting extra hormones into my body was probably not a really great idea. I couldn't put my finger on why exactly it was a bad thing, but then I started having more overt conversations with some female friends of mine, and I came to realize that my near-total lack of libido was not a normal thing for a woman my age. One by one, I eliminated the possible causes: anti-depressants? Not on them. Depression? Not usually a problem. Exercise? I do it regularly. Overweight? Nope. Stress? Well, yes, but only recently (with the wedding planning). I decided it had to be the pill, and so I made an appointment at the OB clinic. It was time to get off hormonal birth control.

    At my consultation, the doctor told me that it was possible but not very likely that the pill was what was suppressing my libido. People are just busy and tired, she told me, and nine out of ten patients at the clinic ask her the same question. She also told me that very few women choose the IUD as their method of contraception, and only a fraction of those women opt for the hormone-free Paragard, as I planned to. I decided to go ahead with my plan anyhow, and I'm certainly glad I did. 

    I'm not going to lie to you—the insertion was painful. It used to be that they didn't even put IUDs in women who haven't had a baby, because there was too much risk of damaging something during insertion. Thankfully, that isn't an issue anymore, although it is a little trickier to perform the insertion on a childless woman. At first the doctor fished around a bit and said that she didn't think she was going to be able to get it to go in. Then I felt a stab, and we were clear for takeoff. I went right back to work that day, but I had horrible cramps unlike I had ever felt before. Within a couple of days I was back to normal.

    At first my fiance thought that he could feel the strings of the IUD during sex and it freaked him out a little, but gradually he started to feel it less (and he also realized that, either way, it wasn't going to do any damage to him). My first few periods with the IUD were painful and extremely heavy, but they have lightened up now to an almost-normal flow and little cramping (though I can scarcely remember what my normal period was actually like, I was on the pill for so long).

    I noticed a difference in my sex drive right away. I've read enough about psychology, though, that I had to wonder if I wasn't just experiencing the placebo effect. Not thinking too much of it, I went back on the pill for a few short weeks in the spring in order to "reset" my period so that I wouldn't be on it during my wedding and honeymoon, and I immediately felt completely dead in terms of sex drive. Luckily, its effects did not last and the honeymoon was not spoiled in the least. And my libido has been at a level that my husband and I are both very happy with ever since.

    So here I am now with what is practically a perfect method of birth control. I'm not the least bit worried about getting pregnant, my husband is happy with it, my insurance paid for it, I don't have to buy pills or condoms or rings, I don't have to remember to take anything, and my body is practically its own natural self. I highly, strongly, enthusiastically recommend that other women give the IUD a try. The only thing I miss about the pill is having fewer periods, and most women who take the pill don't seem to opt for that anyhow. 

    Well—and I also really miss being able to (barely) fit into a C cup. But what good are boobs if you don't want babies or sex?

    35 comments:

    Ashley, the Accidental Olympian said...

    I am SO over hormone related birth controls and getting pretty sick of using condoms so this sounds like something I need to research. Thanks for the details!

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