While an IUD may be the perfect birth control solution for some, it’s total nightmare for others.
After having my period for up to 15 days at a time, I realized oral contraception wasn’t effective for me. I wanted more protection than what condoms offer, so I sought out alternatives. That’s why, two years ago, I made a decision to pursue a more permanent form of birth control. I chose the Mirena, the intrauterine device with hormone progestin, because it could last up to five years.
However, the IUD quickly turned into a nuisance. I experienced unbearable cramping and bleeding which made it difficult to return to work, even days and weeks following the procedure. After two months, I went back to my medical provider to have the device removed. Even after it was removed, I still experienced painful side-effects, which echoed vaginismus. It took me a year and half to use tampons without feeling pain; sex has never been the same; and I’ve never been able to use a menstrual cup ever again.
According to Broadly, consultant gynecological surgeon Dr. Ayman Ewies, in her own practice as a medical professional, advises against the Mirena to those who haven’t had children. Her 2007 study showed almost half of the people she surveyed had the device removed within three years.
I’m not the only one with a unique experience, either. Even those who have birthed children have complications. After having a copper IUD inserted, author and parent educator Tosha Schore bled heavily–so much that she changed her tampon every few hours, since it’d otherwise leak–for two months. She also experienced tingling in her arms and legs. Once she had the device removed, she celebrated that the tingling disappeared. However, she never had her period again and hasn’t used birth control ever since.
“I don’t know how to know whether the IUD and the extremely early menopause are related, but they sure seem to be,” Schore, who has birthed three children, added.
Very rarely are the side effects serious, but it is definitely possible. According to Planned Parenthood, some side effects include spotting between periods, pelvic pain where the IUD is inserted, and cramping as well as backaches a few days after the insertion procedure. Additionally, those with the ParaGard copper IUD may experience worse-than-usual menstrual symptoms, such as heavier periods.
Additionally, in a clinical review, Dr. Kari P Braaten says the bleeding and pain following an IUD insertion is often because of malpositioning. Overall, those with malpositioned IUDs are more likely to experience severe side effects from the procedure.
Weeks and months following my IUD removal, I restrained from certain sexual activities and switched from tampons to pads. (Since I was into sustainable hygiene, I got to experiment with period panties and reusable pads.) Two years later, the pain hasn’t completely vanished, but it has been greatly alleviated. Patience has been the biggest challenge for me to personally overcome.
If you’ve ever had a negative experience with an IUD, it’s easy to feel discouraged and disempowered. Fortunately, an IUD is only one of many contraceptive options to pursue, and there are other alternatives.