All you Need to Know about Getting an IUD
Here in the UK, finding the best contraception for you can be daunting and, actually, really annoying. I’ve tried the pill, mini pill, condoms, the pull out method and the copper coil (IUD). One thing I found when I was researching the IUD was that I couldn’t find any real-life accounts of the experience. I effectively went into the procedure blind, and I wish I could have found a detailed explanation of what happens before the IUD is inserted, how and how long the procedure takes, and how it feels afterwards. Maybe if I knew about these things I wouldn’t have gone forward… But what’s life without a few lessons.
Anyway, I thought I’d make a post detailing my experience with the copper coil for those who would like to know more about the contraceptive and the procedure. Personally, I went for the coil as a reaction to being on the pill and mini pill for so long. I was on Ovranette for a long time when I was younger. However, when my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wanted to come off the tablets because of their cancer risk. Once I was at uni, I tried Cerazette ( the mini pill) – this was supposed to be better for me by ending my periods altogether. However, in the long run, I ended up gaining around 2 stone and I would cry profusely at Andrex puppy adverts. Not the life for me. Once that ordeal was over and my body was getting used to its natural cycle again, I used condoms and the pull out method with my boyfriend at the time. Cue anxiety attacks every month. So, in a bid to live without hormones and the fear of harbouring an unwanted fugitive in my uterus, I resorted to the IUD.
Now, in Manchester, I lived near The Hathersage Sexual Health Clinic. The staff were so friendly and I really can’t fault how great it was in there. I felt no bias and I wasn’t ashamed to visit either, which is a big thing for me. The clinic offers sexual health advice, screenings, contraception and the morning after pill. When I went in and asked about the IUD – I was asked to wait until a doctor could talk to me. Once I was called in, I was told all about the IUD, mainly, about the IUD itself and its effectiveness when it comes to its use as a contraceptive.
The IUD (Intrauterine device), or the coil, is a device which can be used by any woman regardless of whether she has had children or not. In terms of contraception, it’s one of the most effective methods you can use, with a failure rate of 0.5% per year here in the UK. The IUD can last up the 10 years and doesn’t require much attention once you’ve had it inserted.
When I was told this by the doctor, I was all for it. Of course, I hadn’t heard yet how it’s inserted or about the pain afterwards. When I asked, I was told all about the procedure and I was given an STD test to ensure I was all good to go before the procedure was due to take place. I also had to take a pregnancy test, as there is a chance of miscarriage if you have an IUD inserted whilst pregnant. I mean, I was told about the procedure, but in all fairness, I had never had any experience with speculums or cervix clamping, so I was a little naïve, to say the least…
So, the procedure. I was booked in for two weeks post-consultation, and I was really nervous I won’t lie. I wasn’t allowed anyone in the room with me, however, they provided a nurse to hold my hand. You may lol at that but she was amazing lmao. Anyway – When I entered the room I was told to remove my bottom half layer of clothing and asked to lie on the bed. I then had to lie down, knees faced upwards, before letting my knees fall to my sides (feet still together). As you can imagine I looked sexy af.
Once this was done – my doctor lubed me up and inserted the speculum. If you’ve never had this done before, it’s a really weird experience. I mean, the insertion is fairly cold and you’re sat there like hey ho okay there’s a metal object inside of me. But then the doctor cranks you open. You may feel like a car being jacked at this point, but it ain’t the worst thing you’re gonna feel my dude. Next comes the clamp. Yep. My cervix was clamped in place in order to steady it. This feels like a dull pain and can feel really uncomfortable, but breathing through the pain and squeezing that nurses hand gave me something to focus on. Once this was done, the doctor inserted a tube through my cervix and placed the IUD. This was the most painful part of the process, but overall the procedure lasted around 2 minutes max. That includes the speculum along with the lubing and the overall awkwardness of everything.
I was then given a drink of water and told to get up from the bed slowly to avoid head rush or nausea. For around 30 minutes, everything felt fine down there. I went for a fat Wetherspoons breakfast and had a cracking time. Then came the horrendous pains. I’m talking like leg numbing period style cramps. I went home – popped some ibuprofen and tried lying down. However, it still felt horrendous and I couldn’t stay still. I ended up bent over my desk wiggling my ass around trying to stop the pain. I even ended up calling 111 for advice on the situation. For around 3 hours I had these cramps. However, I was told to stay calm and wait for the tablets to kick in. They eventually did, and I was back to normal.
For the next 10 months, it felt as though I had nothing going on down there! It was actually great. I still had my periods, and I felt my mood swings chilling out a bit thanks to the lack of hormones in my system. I could also have sex with my partner at the time without worrying to death about pregnancy. Note here that the IUD doesn’t stop STD infections, just in case you’re about the casual sex life. You should still use condoms.
I could also leave the IUD alone (for the most part), only checking that the strings were still in place after my periods had ended. You can check that your IUD strings are still in place by inserting two fingers and feeling around the cervix. The doctor will show you how to do this post-procedure.
Around the 10 month mark, I started having really bad periods. I would end up sitting on the toilet in hot sweats and a boiling lower stomach. This lasted for around 2 more months before I called it quits and had the IUD removed.
Removal is easy. Simply make an appointment with the clinic or doctors surgery and turn up on the day. You’re told to lie on the bed, remove the clothing on your lower half and do the same thing with your legs that you did on the day of insertion. You’re cranked up and told to cough – and in a flash, it’s gone. The doctor gently pulls on the strings and the coil is removed from your cervix. I was asked if I wanted to see mine. Like some sort of weird mechanical T-shaped baby. I was like no, thanks, and bailed. I had no cramping after the IUD was removed, and I felt tonnes better!
When you get an IUD, there are risks you need to be aware of, but the NHS website can guide you on this more than I can.
In the end, choosing a contraceptive for you can be tough – but you should be well researched before trying anything. It’s your body, and you should have the last say on what goes inside of it. I also have to thank my best friend Bryony for helping through my IUD times, she honestly helped so much when I was anxious about the insertion and my cramps.
Hope this post has helped in some way! What are your experiences with the coil/contraceptive in general? Let me know!