I spent a romantic Memorial Day Weekend with a special someone…and the best friend Flo.
Cue me writhing in agony for four days with my usual menstrual cycle of hell, while my supportive yet helpless partner watched and suggested different ways to relieve my discomfort.
Aunt Flo day four dawned bright and early on a Tuesday, and I had a mission: Get an IUD. I was instructed to call to schedule my insertion within five days of starting my period. A short phone call later and I landed myself a date with the nurse practitioner later that afternoon. In my head I had visions of dancing birth control pills waving me goodbye, condoms singing me a sad ballad of true love, and Plan B being left un-purchased on the shelf. Because really, who can afford a $60 pill anyway?
Yes. I admit it: I have white coat syndrome. And unfortunately, the more I thought about it – as I peed in a cup, stepped on the scale, and answered the short questionnaire – the more I realized I couldn’t reason my way out of fear. I knew all of the reasons that I chose this: no hormones (because they make me crazy), no pregnancies for ten years, no more pills or pregnancy scares…but that didn’t help when I entered the exam room and saw a table covered with the tools necessary. It also didn’t help when I found my bare butt sitting on a crinkly pad that was meant to soak up any spotting.
Luckily the nurse practitioner was amazing, explained all tools, all parts of the procedure, and answered any questions. It was over quickly after a few moments of pain; I honestly cannot compare it to anything because I’ve never experienced a sensation such as that before.
I also cannot explain the amount of relief I felt when she wrote on my chart, “Good until 2025.” And I can breathe easy knowing that when I’m ready, my body will be too.
It probably took about four days for me to bounce back completely. However it is important to keep in mind that every woman is different. I had an additional two days of spotting, which is not totally uncommon for my period, so I’m not sure which to attribute it to. My biggest issue was how I was moving like I’d miraculously aged forty years overnight. After having it inserted, I went back to work for two hours and headed home. I couldn’t wear a belt, and I couldn’t straighten up. My waistline felt odd, and I guess since the uterus is a giant muscle, it explains why I felt super tight and unable to bend. I had what my nurse practitioner called “aftershocks” for the rest of the day, though I felt well enough later that evening to go on a long walk. I woke up in a fair bit of pain that night, but three ibuprofen pills later I managed to sleep.
The next day was terrible. I woke up 10 minutes after I was supposed to be at work, still feeling like any sudden movements could break something, and popped more ibuprofen than was probably healthy. I would definitely recommend asking them to prescribe you something a little bit stronger if you’re concerned. I would have had I known. I went home and straight to bed after this day in complete agony. I felt like I was experiencing my worst period on steroids, my uterus had some pretty serious rage at being poked and prodded. The next day was an incredible improvement, though I still had to slouch in my chair to accommodate my bloating and the occasional major cramping. By day three I felt almost 100% better with the exception of some minor cramping.
I have no regrets; I know this was the best choice for my lifestyle. I don’t have to deal with any of the usual symptoms that accompany birth control pills (the hormones give me headaches, nausea and mood swings), and I don’t have to worry about a condom breaking. I was prepared from various horror stories about the adjustment period, and I was cautioned that the next few months would be somewhat more difficult when it came to my period. But I couldn’t tell a difference until that time of the month, and when I finally experienced my first period post ParaGard, I can honestly say the waiting is the worst part. When dealing with my menstrual cycle, my PMS symptoms are almost always worse than my period itself. The cramping (beginning about a week before my period) proved very painful for me.
I had initially blown off the checkup that I was supposed to schedule for four weeks after my insertion (I didn’t want to have to take the time off work if I could just feel for the strings myself), but after my period was four days late and I was still in a lot of pain, I bit the bullet and went in. Luckily everything was good to go, I took the minor painkillers prescribed, and beyond a crazy heavy flow, everything was smooth sailing from there – but I am very glad that I went in nonetheless.
All in all? I’d do it again. Though I think I should recommend that the nurses keep mini bottles of booze around for us afterwards – I mean kids get lollipops, right?
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.