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 . 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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The FDA Just Approved A Birth Control App And We’re Suspicious

There is an app for everything in your life. There are apps for ordering coffee in the morning, and now there’s one for making sure you don’t get preggers. The FDA just approved an app called Natural Cycles as a form of contraception. Considering there is still an ongoing debate in the U.S. over women’s reproductive and abortion rights, which could affect access for some to contraceptives, this app could be a saving grace. Natural Cycles is meant to give women control over their bodies and prevent unplanned pregnancy, which sounds great, but wtf is it and how does it work?

How TF Does It Work?

The app requires you to enter the correct information about your cycle and take your basal temperature, aka your lowest body temperature achieved at rest. It then uses an algorithm to determine when you are fertile. On the days when you are fertile you’re supposed to practice safe sex, or just give the vag a day off. Whatever you prefer. The only problem with this is that a lot of are still taken by surprise when we have a visit from good old aunt flow, so how TF are we going to enter all of this information in?

What Are The Benefits?

The positives of this app are that if we end up like in the Divergent movies (but with a phone and hopefully the guy who plays Four), this app will let women continue to practice safe sex. Post apocalyptic planning aside the app means that women don’t have to rely on hormonal contraceptives such as birth control and IUDs. We all have that friend with an IUD horror story or who took a birth control that made her totally nuts. (Unless you are that friend, in which case, my apologies) More importantly app claims to have a failure rate of only 1.8 percent compared to the 9 percent that condoms have. Remember though, this failure is not getting an F on a midterm you never studied for its having a child… so not something you can just cry your way out of at a parent teacher conference.

What’s The Downside?

In general this just seems like a lot of maintenance and personal responsibility which, considering how most of us have to set an alarm to remember to take a pill every day (and then still forget), can lead to problems. The other downfall is that the app costs $79.99 annually. For a lot of women, their birth control is covered by insurance (thanks Obama!) so that seems like a lot of money for an app that doesn’t even play Candy Crush or airbrush photos for you. However, if your birth control isn’t covered, then it is a lot cheaper than having to pay for your monthly set of pills. Or, you know, having a baby for the rest of your life. Either way this is the first of many new products that will come out of the femtech industry, tbh can’t see what else they role out!

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Male Birth Control Works On Monkeys & May Soon Work On Fuckboys Too

Gotta love modern medicine. According to a new study, a new form of male contraceptive has been successfully trialed on a group of 16 monkeys and prevented pregnancies for over two years of testing.

The new contraceptive—aka male birth control—is like a vasectomy, but less invasive. No snipping, if you will. The scientists injected the monkeys with a gel called “Vaselgel” that blocks sperm from escaping the body. Plus, it’s a 100% reversible procedure, although Michael Scott will still tell you it’s not altogether pleasant. 

The male monkeys were each given the injection and released to live with all the little birdies female monkeys for an entire two year breeding season. TBH, this is more information than I’ve ever wanted to know about the monkey reproductive cycle. Anyway, these monkeys were fucking chilling and didn’t get any of these single, independent female monkeys pregnant even with all that casual sex on the reg.

Before you go throwing your birth control away, Vaselgel hasn’t been tested on humans (yet). But it’s now been trialed successfully on monkeys and rabbits with no side effects and no pregnancies, so it sounds like the greatest fucking gift to mankind ever. The makers of the gel, the Parsemus Foundation, are testing on humans next and anticipate releasing the treatment on the market next year. This mean’s we’re one step closer to to turning the tables on that fuckboy so we can ask “are you on the gel?” before he tries to get it in. 

Over-The-Counter Birth Control Could Be A Thing Soon, Yes Please

Since the dawn of time, contraceptive use has been an issue between women and the men who think they have the right to tell us what to do with our bodies. Between abortion and Plan B, the government has an unhealthy amount of say in whether we have a child or not. Not to mention, they have a large hand in whether we get acne/cramps/other problems related to being a woman that birth control fixes for us so our lives aren’t completely unbearable, so thanks a fucking lot for that. However, considering the shit show that was 2016, 2017 seems to have risen in a much brighter and healthier light: French pharmaceutical company HRA Pharma has teamed up with Ibis Reproductive Health, a research nonprofit, to make birth control available over-the-counter.

HRA Pharma and Ibis Reproductive Health have been trying for a while to make this wish a reality, and originally hoped to get this shit approved by the FDA within the next few years. And it seemed like things were going pretty swimmingly—OTC birth control pills have the backing of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, aka the big guns. California and Oregon had already approved legislation to make birth control available directly at the pharmacy without a prescription. The world was bright and shiny and full of hope.

Sound of Music

UNTIL. Until Trump got elected, because now everything’s fucked (shockingly). If Trump and the Republicans in Congress succeed in repealing the Affordable Care Act, it’s going to make it really difficult to make over-the-counter birth control happen. However, all is not lost (yet). Luckily for us, the FDA makes decisions based on science and not the sexist idea that women should not be allowed to have bodily autonomy  politics. So in other words, even if Planned Parenthood is defunded, abortion is made illegal, and we all live in a real-life version of The Handmaid’s Tale where women exist solely to pump out babies for the rich and powerful, none of that shit would theoretically matter to the FDA. And the good news is that science has our back on this—the majority of the evidence, real evidence, supports the idea offering the pill OTC is safe for women.

In conclusion, if Trump decides not to ruin everything for women (and everyone ever), birth control could be made OTC. So like, keep your fingers crossed.

Fingers crossed