SWITCHING FROM THE PILL TO AN IUD
Being a woman is so much fun. Our options for contraceptive are endless. Personally, I find it to be such a relief knowing that we take all the pressure away from men by worrying about all of this stuff so they don't really have to… insert the biggest fucking eye roll anyone could make here please and thank you.
Up until a week ago, I had been on the birth control pill since I was 15 years old. That’s 15 years of taking a hormone pill every single day. Kind of wild when you step back and think about that. For me, the decision to switch to an IUD (Intrauterine Device) was a fairly easy one, albeit, a slight terrifying one. Having to mentally prepare for the hormonal adjustment that can occur from going off the pill (que breakouts, painful periods, and probably a mood swing or two), combined with the unknown fear and questions of going through an IUD insertion can make for a pretty fearful few months.
Before I really dive into things, I want to take a second and say that this blog is not being written to convince you to switch from one method to another. I am not writing this to debate what is best, to scrutinize any other form of contraceptive or offend anyone who may think an IUD is horrible for you. This is my body, my choice, and my blog. I am here to tell you why I made the switch, what to expect if you are considering it, and hopefully provide a little insight to anyone (male or female) who is looking to simply learn more about it.
In an effort to keep this as short, but informative as possible, here is why I Chose to Switch to an IUD:
For most of my life, I have been very lucky with the pill. I’ve never had painful or long periods, had to deal with hormonal acne, spotting, or anything unusual or frankly straight up annoying. That being said, over the last few years, I started having certain issues (which are actually so personal I almost can’t believe I’m going to put it all out there) which has led me to make the switch.
Melasma is essentially skin pigmentation that is caused by hormones and the sun. Some people get it and some people don't. I unfortunately do. This can cause some upper lip discolouration and spots on the forehead and cheeks. It can get worse during pregnancy due to the increase of hormones and can also be exacerbated by the pill. Although mine is very faint, it is there and it is not something I would like to see progress.
Here is a bit more information on melasma. Please leave a comment below if you would like me to do a follow up blog on how I am correcting this issue.
This is probably the most annoying thing in the world to have to deal with and strangest thing to talk about publicly, but the more I speak with friends and other women about it the more I am realising how common it actually is. For me the pill has been causing yeast infections to occur wayyyyyy more than normal. It’s gotten to the point where it is more annoying than it even is embarrassing and I am looking forward to having it all put behind me now that I have made the switch.
Focal Nodular Hyperplasia:
Now this one is a bit trickier to explain. FNH is something that I was diagnosed with about five years ago. They are essentially benign lesions on your liver that are not directly caused by the pill but associated with the pill (still trying to figure this one out myself...). I have had these monitored through MRI imaging since 2014 and have been told that they are growing and multiplying. Hopefully with this change in contraceptive, these will stop and possibly disappear. Alternatively, if they don’t, and they keep growing, they will have to be surgically removed. I am in the processes of having them examined by a hepatologist and will be exploring my options as they see fit.
Now that my personal health is all out there, here is what to Expect When Getting An IUD:
So I’ll fully admit, I put this off for a good four weeks out of fear of having to do it. Looking back on it, it really wasn't that bad. Now before I go saying its a piece of cake (even though it was for me), that apparently is not the case for all women. I had some people message me saying they fainted or could hardly walk after due to the pain. I am so grateful that this was not the case for me and my heart goes out to any of you who had a horrible time with it.
I experienced two moments of “ahhhhhhh” pain. The first was not as bad as the second and I’ll be honest I’m not even sure what exactly was going on during this first moment. The second was definitely the arms of the device latching on to my uterus and it kinda fucking hurt, but only for a few seconds. The rest of it just feels like painful period cramps and pressure. I felt fine leaving the doctors office and immediately took a Robaxacet which is a muscle relaxer and Advil in one. I feel as though this was my saving grace for no pain. I felt absolutely nothing for the entire afternoon after this procedure. Not a single cramp or pain until it was about 6 hours since I last took the muscle relaxer. I experienced minor cramping over the next few days, but it was always around the window of 4-6 hours since my last dose of pain reliever. Very manageable to say the least.
A couple of things to note if you are considering an IUD:
Stay on the pill or continue practicing safe sex until you get the IUD put in. This way there is little to no chance that you are pregnant. They cannot insert the IUD if there is a chance you are pregnant.
Ask for Misoprostol. This is a pill that you insert as far up as you can that will help relax your uterus and make the insertion of the IUD easier.
You cannot have sex or insert anything (tampons) for 48 hours after the insertion.
They dip the devices they use in this brown/copper coloured liquid. This more or less comes out of you later on but it’s nothing to worry about.
There is a string that is attached to the device that extends down into your vaginal canal. This is how they remove the device later on. It can be cut to different lengths and I suggest asking it to be made as short as possible. My doctor said if you or your partner can feel it than you can come back and ask for it to be shortened.
Expect a six week follow up appointment
You can leave the device in for up to 5 years
It usually takes roughly six months for the lining of your uterus to come back once it is removed. This is something to note if you are trying to get pregnant and are wondering why it may not be happening. That being said, it may happen right away for you it all depends on you as an individual.
It costs roughly $420 dollars and is covered by insurance
Types of IUD’s:
There are two types of IUD’s. One is a plastic progesterone based device (called Mirena and is what I got), the other is a copper device and contains no hormones. The both give you the same level of protection against pregnancy, but individually can cause different outcomes with your monthly period. From what I have been told by my doctor, the progesterone one can cause you to bleed/spot for up to six months, but normally results in no more periods. The copper one can cause your natural period to be heavier, longer and more painful. If you already have heavy, long, painful periods, you may not want to get a copper IUD. Thankfully, I have had no bleeding or spotting since a day or two after the insertion. I am hoping to get my period as scheduled and expect to see it decrease over time.
Again, I would like to express that this blog is not here to sway you or debate what is right or wrong when it comes to contraceptives. I am happy to answer any comments or direct responses to anything you have read in this blog and hope you found it informative and insightful.