What I’ve learned about IUDs

iud cookie
Photo from OB Cookie: Contraceptive Confections – this makes me happy.

Update: Read about the insertion here.

I went to Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital for a consultation regarding IUDs. IUD stands for Intra-Uterine Device. Acronyms sounds less scary though. Before the consultation I figured a fishhook would be shoved up my body, tearing up everything in its path. I have also read and heard the tales of those who are anti women’s reproductive rights, and despite my best efforts, I could not shake the image of this scary IUD puncturing the head of a fetus for I would inevitably become pregnant because that’s why women have sex and I’m a dirty bad girl that needs to close her legs. PHEW.

Luckily, I learned differently.

There are two different IUD types available: copper and hormonal. The hormonal device is called Mirena. Both are shaped like a T and placed inside the uterus. They are not nearly as big as I imagined. It is best to have an IUD inserted while on your period. You’re clearly not pregnant and you will probably experience cramping after insertion, so may as well get cramps while you are already cramping anyway. Neither types prevent from sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Both will not need replacing for five years.

Copper devices are 98-99% effective. The Women’s College website reads, “There are several theories of how they work, but we believe that they prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. To a lesser degree, they may also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus.”

Mirena contains low doses of progestin. Progestin is used in birth control pills. Mirena is over 99% effective and will most likely lighten your period, as there will be less uterine lining to shed, if not eliminate it completely. If you do not get your period while using the copper option, that is a bad sign and you need to contact a doctor.

The copper device is around $50 while the hormonal option is about $400. So, unless you have the money to invest or a benefits package, there may not be that much of an option for you.

The nurse I saw was amazing. She answered not only my questions, but questions I was asking on behalf of my friends too. She was patient and not judgmental at all. I get scolded at a lot of doctor’s offices for not relaxing enough during ultrasounds and pap tests (I cannot be the only one whose vagina is like, nope! Am I?) I am near convinced such shaming and hostility will not be a part of the insertion process come February. Stay tuned!

Update: Read about the insertion here.

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