Warning: I’m going to go all TMI on you to share the bloody truth about my experience with an intrauterine device, also known as an IUD. If you have no interest in hearing about my contraceptive woes, consider yourself warned and come back another day when I’m in a better mood!
Remember about a month ago when I made you all suffer through my bitching and moaning about the ridiculous pain I experienced during my IUD insertion?
You know what would be even more awesome than enduring that procedure, followed by a month of near-constant bleeding? If it was all for nothing.
You guessed it. The Paragard has left the building.
Let me explain.
To recap: I had a Paragard IUD inserted in late August. Thanks, in part, to a miscommunication with my midwife, I did not take ibuprofen before the insertion. Who knew that not taking a couple over-the-counter pain relief pills would have such an impact?
The insertion process was horribly painful for me. I won’t bore you with the details a second time, so you can go read about it yourself if you missed it the first time.
My midwife warned me that I would probably experience some bleeding over the next week or so after the insertion but that the cramping shouldn’t be so bad after the first couple days. I left her office with instructions to immediately take 800 mg of ibuprofen and take it easy. We also scheduled an appointment for me to return a month later so she could do an ultrasound and make sure the IUD was properly attached to my uterus.
Before we decided to go the IUD route, she also advised me to stay on the birth control pill for another couple months. She said it would help keep my period regulated and should assist with any post-insertion bleeding. I’ve been on the pill for this many years, so another couple months couldn’t hurt. Thank God I took her advice (that’s foreshadowing).
In the days and weeks after the IUD was inserted, I experienced a lot of bleeding. A lot. I’ve been blessed with pretty light periods for most of my life, and this was far worse than anything I’d experienced other than the first couple weeks postpartum. After two weeks, I called the doctor’s office and talked to the nurse. She said as long as I wasn’t soaking through two tampons an hour, I was within the bounds of normal side effects. And since I wasn’t experiencing any cramping, she said I’d just have to ride it out but to call back if the bleeding got any heavier.
So I endured my month. And in the interest of telling you every side effect, hopefully my husband won’t kill me for telling you that the couple times we attempted to have sex, it hurt like hell and we had to stop. Dr. Google and a few friends told me that although this didn’t happen to most people it was a little unusual (and my midwife had told me it should have no impact on sex).
Finally, a couple days before my ultrasound appointment, the bleeding started letting up. Of course. Doesn’t it always happen that way?
By the time I walked into the office for my appointment, I was feeling better and hoping that I had 9 years and 11 months of hormone-free, pain-free living ahead of me.
For starters, I got to experience that special joy of receiving a transvaginal ultrasound. That’s just good times right there. It was made even more fun by the fact that apparently my ovaries like to “hide,” leading to a lot of poking, prodding and apologies from the lab tech.
Finally, I was sent into the exam room to wait for my midwife. She was handed the scans just as she walked in, and we read the good news together — my IUD was not attached to my uterus. It would have to come out.
Basically, the reason I had such heavy bleeding all month long was because my uterus was constantly contracting until it expelled the IUD.
I looked at her and said, “So let me get this straight. My uterus was unable to push out my 9 pound, 6 ounce fetus, but a microscopic copper device? THAT it wants to get rid of?”
Then it was time for someone else to apologize. She remembered how agonizing the insertion had been for me. She said the good news is that the bleeding and pain would stop. When I told her I’d had no pain, just bleeding, she was stunned. She told me that in the several years she’s been inserting IUDS, only four or five have been expelled and in all the other cases, the women experienced extreme pain until the IUDs were removed.
So at least I had that going for me.
I told her that the only time I’d experienced pain was during intercourse. She suddenly got a panicked look on her face. “Are you still on the pill, Jackie?” “Yes, why?” “Phew. Because if you weren’t, you could have gotten pregnant. Since the IUD wasn’t attached, it wouldn’t have provided any contraception.”
So to recap. I had a horrible, horrible insertion, followed by a month of constant bleeding, some cramping, and oh yeah, I almost ended up pregnant.
Man, this was a good experiment.
Now what? She said she’d start the insurance process of seeing if we could even get another one. She didn’t have a definitive reason why it failed. Perhaps I was too tense from the pain during the insertion. Perhaps it was the wrong time of the month for my body. Perhaps it was the device. Perhaps it’s just one of those things.
She did assure me that if we do try it again, she’ll give me valium and ibuprofen before the insertion.
In the meantime, I’m still on the pill, the bleeding stopped immediately, and I’m trying to decide what to do moving forward.
I also want to stress for others considering an IUD that I seem to be the rare exception, not the rule. In my previous post, so many others said they had none of the same issues I had. I guess there’s got to be someone to experience all those side effects they love to warn about. I’m just one of the lucky ones.
And now I get to rethink my options for contraception. I’d really love to get off the hormones or at least significantly lessen them. I have no interest in charting.
What else is out there? Should I give the IUD a second shot?