IUD and Me

Omar Bárcena via Flickr

Omar Bárcena via Flickr

I sucked at taking birth control. I’d acknowledge my alarm like I would spam mail, eventually forgetting about it altogether. As a result, I would take abnormal dosages, unleashing my unbalanced hormones upon friends and family.

When I heard about intra-uterine devices (IUDs), I immediately scheduled an appointment at the Island Sexual Health Clinic. An IUD is a small device placed inside the uterus and is considered the most reliable contraceptive method to date. It is 98–99 per cent effective and lasts for up to five years after insertion.

Referring to my life’s itinerary, I concluded that it was in my best interest to remain barren, while relieving my daily pill struggle.

My first appointment consisted of mandatory paperwork and a pre-screening examination. Afterwards, I was ushered into a room filled with anatomy posters and pamphlets telling me that “no glove means no love.” If that were true, I wouldn’t be here, getting something that looks like a flat fish hook shoved up my vagina, but nice try. They sat me down to watch an educational video, where a woman with rainbow-coloured hair explained everything I needed to know about IUDs.

There are two types of IUDs: copper-releasing and hormone-releasing, the latter of which is called Mirena. The copper IUD is hormone free, with a stem that releases copper into the uterine cavity. Copper ions are toxic to sperm, inhibiting mobility to the egg, and also prevent fertilized eggs from implanting onto the uterine lining.

The Mirena IUD contains levonorgestrel (it’s okay, I can’t pronounce it either), a hormone which causes the cervical mucus to become thicker, so the sperm can’t reach the egg. The Mirena causes a 90 per cent reduction in menstrual blood loss, and according to the manufacturer, causes about one out of five women to lose their period altogether. The rainbow-haired woman assured me that IUDs do not cause abortions, by repeating it five times to countering any moral dilemmas which could arise.

I arrived for my second appointment, ibuprofen consumed, and ready to go. After providing a urine sample—an ungraceful task for any female—I proceeded to a room which looked like a gift shop for my vagina. I spent $100 on a copper IUD, securing a childless short-term future for my uterus.

I entered the procedure room in a mild panic. Sensing this anxiety, the doctor told me to just focus on the hand-crafted butterflies hanging from the ceiling. Now, expressed verbally, this suggestion may sound ridiculous but if you could see these butterflies—which somehow embodied every virtuous quality on this earth—you could see how it was easy for me to let go of any fears or doubts.

“Okay. You’re all done. You did great!” The doctor removed the speculum and reminded me not to forget my complimentary juice box and granola bar. Wait, that was it? I prepped myself for war, and this was a walk in the park. I mean, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest but I thought it would be a hell of a lot more painful than that.

It’s different for different people. My lack of discomfort may be an excruciating experience to another. Maybe I was just way too focused on the butterflies. Regardless, it’s definitely a procedure worth looking into.

IUDs are typically recommended to those who have already had a child or abortion, but are slowly being introduced to a younger demographic of women. Ensuring that proper birth control methods are reliable and safe should be a priority to the sexually active community. So, if you don’t plan on being knocked up for a while and want to score a free juice box, I’d definitely recommend getting an IUD.

Consult a health care professional first to determine if an IUD is right for you.

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