4 Women Discuss What Getting An IUD Is Really Like

I’m not going to lie to you guys, I’m paranoid as a person. I literally had stress dreams about Brett Kavanaugh being confirmed all last night. I’ve been on the pill for years, and I love it. I didn’t gain weight, I didn’t really have crazy mood swings, and it helped my periods immensely. Before the pill, I was soaking through a super jumbo tampon AND a maxi pad every night (I guess I just have a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina). I also got such bad cramps that I would get nauseated, often canceling plans because I couldn’t move. So yeah, life before birth control wasn’t a fun time. I do not wish to return to that time.

But it seems that I might—or at the very least, my birth control (which already costs me $50 a month) may become prohibitively expensive and I’m considering switching to an IUD. So I did what I do best: Google what it’s like to get an IUD, scour Reddit for answers to the same question, and finally, ask my friends who have one what it’s like to get an IUD. You know, anything but make an appointment with my actual doctor.

Here’s what my friends said about what it’s like to get an IUD. Please note, none of this should be taken in place of medical advice. If you are wondering what it’s like to get an IUD and are considering one, talk to your doctor. And if you want to know more about WTF is happening in our political system rn, subscribe to the Betches ‘Sup for our daily newsletter.

Age 27, Kyleena

Why did you decide to get an IUD?
Truthfully, my decision to start the process towards getting an IUD was largely motivated by the Presidential election results (although I had already been considering the option for a while). Reliable, easy birth control is extremely important to me, especially given that I have been in a heterosexual monogamous relationship for almost 5 years and am currently in professional school (so DEFINITELY do not want any babies at any point in the near future/before a bunch of my debt is paid off). Knowing that some changes in health care coverage could be coming down the political pipeline was the final motivation I needed to start the process towards getting an IUD.

Which IUD did you get?
I got Kyleena because it is physically smaller than Mirena but still lasts for 5 years. I also chose it because I know that my body works best with lower dose hormones, so there was no reason for me to consider Mirena.

Kyleena is brand new and you could only get it starting in October. It last 5 years and you get what they call “scant” periods which is sort of like a withdrawal bleed on normal BC but for me was more like super light spotting for a week straight

What was the insertion process like?
Well, first of all, I couldn’t just show up to my doctor and get an IUD like you can with the pill. I had to have a consultation, and insertion appointment, and a follow-up 4-6 weeks after the insertion.

My doctor told me that they generally recommend scheduling insertion during/at the end of a menstrual cycle because that is when the cervix is naturally most open, which makes for an easier procedure. I had my insertion on the first day of my period and it was absolutely one of the more uncomfortable experiences I have had (imagine a really deep, intense cramp that you can feel inside your body, the doctor described it as “visceral”).

However, it only took my doctor three attempts to get the IUD in place and the pain was over in probably 90 seconds or less. Afterward, I went home and laid in bed, ordered Thai food, and took it easy until the general uncomfortable effects/cramping subsided about 3 to 4 hours after the insertion. I was shocked to wake up the next day with little to no lasting effects and didn’t need to take any painkillers after the day of the insertion.

The side effects were uncomfortable but no worse than bad period cramps. They also didn’t last long at all.

Would you do it again?
YES, I WOULD 100% DO IT AGAIN. The fact that there is literally no chance of human error (like forgetting to take a pill/change your NuvaRing, etc.) is a huge comfort to me. I also haven’t had any changes in my skin, weight, moodiness, or any other thing that is traditionally associated with changing birth control methods.

Age 27, Mirena

What made you decide to get an IUD?
I went to my gyno to get a checkup and refill on my birth control and she asked me if I had ever considered an IUD. She’s a huge proponent of them and explained how they’re much more effective and convenient than the pill. Plus it was 100% covered by my insurance. She had me convinced so I agreed, and then she was like “we can do it today” which caught me off guard. But I said “f*ck it” and went for it! 

What was the insertion process like?
Not gonna lie, the insertion process is pretty painful, but it’s also pretty quick. Afterward, I was cramping a lot, which sucked for me because I never usually got cramps during my period. But it was manageable. I was able to walk back to my car which was like a 20-minute walk across campus. And I also went to a dance class later that night. That wasn’t the easiest and I had to sit out towards the end. But overall the aftermath doesn’t put you out of commission from daily life or anything. You’re a little crampy for a day or 2 after, but I’m a lil bitch and I survived.

How bad were the side effects?
I didn’t experience anything bad at all. I think I was maybe a little more emotional for a few weeks because of the hormones but nothing crazy, I didn’t turn into a BSCB. I also spotted for like a month or so, but after that subsided I literally haven’t had a real period since… which at this point has been about 3 years!  

Would you recommend it or do it again?
I would definitely recommend it! I always say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done, seriously. But it’s not for everyone. I have friends who didn’t react well to theirs, so it’s good to know there are still risks. And yes, I would definitely do it again and intend to (healthcare disaster permitting) once mine expires in two years. 

Age 26, Mirena

Why did you decide to get the IUD?
I never really found a pill that liked my body. I tried a few that worked okay, but none that were fantastic. After a while, my doctor explained that the IUD might be a better fit for me because of the lower dose and it would be less of a worry, she explained how it was good for longevity.

What was it like to get an IUD?
The insertion happened at an inpatient clinic. It was done by a PA. It honestly hurt a ton. I was not really expecting the amount of pain it was. After they asked if I wanted to lay down for a while (and I did for about 20 minutes). I wish I stayed longer because on the subway ride home (I took the full day off of work) I was in pretty bad pain and was a little worried about passing out. Good news, I didn’t! It was all okay, but I wished I had stayed a little longer.

Would you get it again?
For my specific body, I am not sure. I’ve had some bad side effects that my doctor has told me are the outlier—for most people. The transition to having it and the pain that you have each month typically goes down. But for me, it has taken a while for that to happen. I am not sure what I will do when it is time to replace it. Probably get another because of the ease with which my birth control is now managed, but I’m not positive yet. I do really like not being on the pill. It is easier day-to-day for sure.

Age 27, Skyla

Why did you get the IUD?
I got it because I was sick of taking the pill. I couldn’t handle estrogen, and I wanted to get the smallest IUD for the least painful insertion.

How painful was the insertion?
Insertion sucked. Awful. They had me take a giant ibuprofen for it, but it still sucked, like, for 5-10 minutes. It felt like the worst cramp I’ve ever had. I was crying. But then I had no pain afterward, and it was done.

What side-effects have you experienced?
I have had some bloating for sure, but I actually feel a lot skinnier/healthier than when I was on the pill. I’d say my periods are pretty odd now, like every 5-6 weeks and super duper light. But I also sometimes get bad bloating before [my period]. I just need to watch what I’m eating, mainly.

Would you do it again?
I would definitely do it again, I highly recommend, especially if you’re having regular sex, can’t handle estrogen, and don’t want to get pregnant.

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Sara Levine
Sara Levine
Sara cares about a few things, including cheese, cheap white wine (never chardonnay), and the Real Housewives of Potomac. She co-hosts Betches' Not Another True Crime Podcast and posts her tweets to Instagram.