So now for something a bit different on this blog! I’ve seen so many mixed reviews of IUDs and the copper Paragard in particular and wanted to share my own, awesome experiences.
If you didn’t know, the IUD, or intra-uterine device, is a T-shaped birth control plastic stick with two strings attached that gets inserted via the cervix into the uterus and can last up to years if it’s the hormonal Mirena and 10 years if it’s the copper Paragard IUD. How cool!
As someone with bad reactions to hormonal methods, I had used barrier methods, specifically condoms with spermicide, but was getting sick of condoms occasionally failing and the hassle of having to stop mid-makeout to apply spermicide. Condoms are wonderful inventions, but can decrease spontaneity. Definitely use them if you’re with a new partner and don’t know their STD status, but condoms are not needed with IUDs if you have both been tested and the test comes back negative!
I like the feel of sex without a condom better and the power of taking my reproductive health into my own hands by having 99% effective birth control. An IUD is more effective than female sterilization! As a biologist, I find how Paragard works so cool: it makes your cervical mucus inhospitable to sperm and literally cuts off their tails, plus prevents the implantation of the egg. The only possible side effects are expulsion, which is less than 3-8% in the first few months and most likely to happen in the first six weeks, then they tend to last the full ten years, perforation of the uterus, which is less than 1%, and a heavier period, but that is only in 33% of patients and clears out after the first three months on average, but can take up to six months.
So how was insertion? Totally easy! To prepare, I went in for a consult with my nurse practitioner who took me through birth control options, tested my blood (came back with high white blood cell count because I had just gotten tattooes!), and tested for STDs, which luckily I have never had. Then insurance cleared the Paragard order and it was ready to go by my next period.
What to expect: I had expert placement, even though I have a tilted uterus, and my doctor was amazing. I don’t mind speculums but they put one in and apply antiseptic to prevent infection, which is very rare and can be noticed by smelly, colored discharge, which is a sign you should get it taken out. Your cervix is open during your period so they insert a little rod to measure the depth, then insert a tube with a spring and the IUD inside to place it. The whole process took a minute, and while it felt weird to feel my cervix the insertion just felt like a big cramp. Then they trim the strings and you are babyproofed!
After Insertion: I cramped for a day and that was it. You can spot up to three months intermittently but I never did. After that it was amazing!
My First Paragard Period: Paragard actually LIGHTENED my period when I initially inserted it – I usually have a clockwork six day period, but instead it just made me spot after I got it and stopped the blood flow. Exactly a month went by and I started spotting a bit the day my period was supposed to arrive with light cramps. The spotting went away until four days later, my actual period began. The first day was moderate flow, the second was heavy, and now I’m on my third day with barely any flow and not even using tampons, just pads. The cramps were pretty bad the night I got my period, but nothing I’m not used to, and it seemed to speed up my period, with the majority of the bleeding happening the first two days and then barely any bleeding the third!
So what did Paragard do? Give me birth control that is the most effective on the market, on par with sterilization and COMPLETELY reversible – you take it out and can get pregnant that day. It has immensely lightened my period and sped things up – I spot a bit beforehand and cramp a wee bit, bleed moderately to heavily for two calendar days, then taper off drastically. The strings soften and curl up around the cervix after a few weeks so your partner can’t feel them and you really have to go looking for them to find them. It’s important during the first few months, especially the first six weeks, to make sure you don’t feel any displacement, but the chances of that are very low. Other than that, have amazing sex and know you won’t be having a child any time soon!
What kind of birth control do you use? Tell me in the comments down below!