I came in for the annual physical exam and found out that my IUD was malpositioned.
Typically, women in their 20s are recommended a physical exam with an HIV and PAP smear test. Upon swapping some cells in my cervix, my General Practitioner Dr. checked the strings of my IUD and noticed the IUD itself was hanging low. It was considered ‘ineffective,’ and I was advised to come in to see an OB/GYN Dr. as soon as possible.
*If you don’t know what an IUD is, it is a T-shaped Intrauterine Device (that is inserted into the uterus to provide birth control).
My first IUD experience:
I had an IUD put in two and a half years ago and thought I would be good for another 10 years.
At the time, I opened up to a few coworkers prior to making a decision on whether I should get one and what type, and to my surprise, most of them were really open with the topic. I went with the copper IUD called Paragard, and it was all free with insurance through work.
My background: I was born and raised as a traditional Vietnamese and Catholics. For obvious reason, the idea of any sorts of birth controls was never a topic of discussion in the household. I know about the T-shaped device that women who do not want ‘more’ kids would get that procedure done. If my mom (or any conservative individuals) read this blog post, she (or they) would probably freak out! My reason to have this procedure done at that time in my life was totally personal, and I did not want any unwanted pregnancy.
I had a lot of cramps within the first few weeks after the Paragard was put in. Cramps were considered normal, and I had a consistent monthly period. Cramps typically bothered me the most on the first day. A week prior, I get quite moody (mostly sad!), and my anger is triggered really easily. I’d find a long hot bath, laying down, or going to sleep early help the most on my first day! Please note, my period has stayed light and lasted about 5 days, before and even after the Paragard.
Copper IUD vs. hormonal IUD:
I decided on the Paragard since I wanted to go hormone-free. Copper interferes with sperm transport and fertilization, hence, it prevents implantation. Paragard is good for 10 years.
Other popular IUDs are hormonal ones called: Mirena, Kyleena, and Minerva.
Mirena is the most prescribed IUD in the US. Mirena is made of soft, flexible plastic, and is slightly smaller in size compared to the Paragard. It has a total of 52 mg of levonorgestrel that is released at a rate of approximately 20 mcg/day. This rate decreases progressively to half that value after 5 years.*
Hormonal IUDs are often the better options for those who have heavy periods since most release progestin, locally in the uterus. Progestin thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering the uterus, weakens its mobility, and thins out the uterus lining. Hence, periods are irregular and lessened, and some experience no periods at all (20% of users after year one*).
Common facts: IUDs are considered one of the most effective forms of birth control by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)*. IUDs do not protect against HIV or STDs. Side effects vary upon individuals, but they should not affect one’s fertility.
Then one day, my body rejects it!
Fast forward to couple weeks ago (as told above), my Dr. saw that my IUD had been (almost) expelled from my uterus. She asked if I had experienced any severe cramps, and I said no. I had just got done with the January period. She told me that it typically got expelled with period and that the IUD might have been too big for my uterus. That is quite a bizarre thing to hear, but apparently, it has happened to a lot of women.
My Second IUD:
This time I decided on the Mirena for the reason being it is smaller than the one I previously had.
I used to be scared of any hormonal changes in my body since I heard it affected a lot of women’s body physiologically and their moods. Unlike other birth control methods, such as the (underarm) patch or pills, the Mirena only releases hormone locally/inside the uterus and not through the blood stream, so it is less likely to affect the body.
I am currently a week in with the Mirena, so I cannot speak so much about the experience and side effect (if any!) yet! I am experiencing some spotting and slight cramps though.
This second IUD experience sparked my desire to share:
On the day of the new IUD appointment, I was told to take 4 ibuprofen pills (100mg each) with a light meal about an hour before the appointment. That was to help ease the pain when the IUD was being put in.
I saw a really good Dr. (Dr. Omen) who was careful enough to notice my pain once the speculum (a device that opens the uterus) was put in me. She injected a numbing medication and let me wait for 10 minutes before she continued the procedure. Another Dr. pulled in an ultrasound device with a TV monitor to help dr. Omen locate the direction of my uterus. I got to see the white T-shaped device on the screen at the end which was quite cool. To be honest with you, that moment when two other women worked together to help put that IUD was quite powerful. I felt very lucky to have had that opportunity, and yay to women’s right and reproductive freedom! Dr. Omen gave me a high-five at the end saying congrats as we successfully made it!
I walked out the patient room with such a big relief and a smile even though I was in such an awkward pain and a faint headache. I felt inspired and needed to share this experience with more women out there.
Other women’s birth control experience:
I did an Instagram Poll asking if any of you guys used or were on any birth control methods, and I got a lot of response, surprisingly. I was a bit nervous at first thinking this topic was too-much-information or too personal. There were 39 people who actually participated in the poll, 14 people said ‘no’ and 25 said ‘yes’ to the question.
Majority of these people are frequent and active followers/friends of mine on Instagram, so I thought it was interesting. My second question was ‘if yes, what kind of birth control? And your thoughts/experience with it?’ I did ask for permission to post these responses and credit them below:
@kaitlinners: Currently on a Mirena IUD that I got it last year! It definitely has its pros and cons, but I’m happy!
@nelsonre24: IUD! Love it but painful when it’s put in.
@ashleynreed1: For awhile I was fine, but lately I’ve felt as though it’s affecting my mood in various ways.
@hey.dua: On the patch now. It’s worked for me, but I feel like I shouldn’t be on it anymore?
@angel_burford: I’m on the pill, I tried getting an IUD and they actually inserted it but my cervix was too small!
@diannaelaine_: Mirena IUD, for almost a year now and so far the experience has been great!
@alisarosie: Mirena. Best yet for me – low hormone and my hormones get imbalanced easily.
@syljas (Sylvia): Was on the pill, now IUD. Pros/cons of both, but overall it’s good for me. Love that you’re asking this.
Sylvia further explained this in the DM: ‘I started on the pill and really liked it. Besides being so effective, I especially enjoyed it because I was able to control when I had my period and it helped with acne I’d had since middle school. A couple of years ago, I transitioned to the IUD because I wanted something more long term that i wouldn’t have to think about daily. I really like that part of it, but the transition from pill to IUD (and corresponding hormonal changes) was so hard on my physical and metal health (developed anxiety and had bad mood swings). Even now, a little after 2 years since getting it, I just feel like I’m getting back to my normal. Overall, the benefits of birth control for me outweigh any negatives, and I feel very lucky to have access to it.’
My final thoughts:
I know IUD would help women who have heavy periods and would spend a bunch of money on Plan B medication. However, it depends on certain individuals. Some prefer the pill route since it reduces acne and helps with their skin. Some have tried the IUD route, and I see happy results.
In short, I hope my story and other women’s stories featured above give you some insights into this very sensitive subject. This blog post is just for educational purpose since I thought it would benefit lots of women (and men) out there. I hope that more women can be open to talk and have options to get any birth control methods that they want.
I was able to come in and had a new IUD put in right before my insurance coverage was over. So that was a big relief for me as I was so nervous in many levels. Thank God, things worked out at the end. As shared above, I felt blessed and privilege to have control over own body and have this freedom to decide on when I want to have kids. To be honest with you, having an IUD done has been one of the most liberating experiences in my 20s for sure!
Feel free to share your story below!
Disclaimer: Please seek professional help to learn more about birth control methods in details and what is best for you. Information marked with (*) was taken from user handouts/bulletins that I took from the clinic. Above stories are either from my own experience and knowledge or other women’s who submitted their stories directly to me.