One Year after Getting an IUD: My Experience

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experience getting an IUD - Wardrobe OxygenA year ago, I made the decision to get an IUD. After having our daughter, I tried hormonal birth control and had horrible reactions and decided to try a different route. I did my research and went with ParaGard, a hormone-free copper inter-uterine device which was free with my insurance.

In this post, I share my experience with having it inserted. It really wasn’t that bad, though I believe one should prepare for the worst and expect the best. Don’t go on an empty stomach. Take some pain reliever beforehand. Take the rest of the day off to rest, or if you feel great, to celebrate your decision.

In that same post, I shared the experience of my first period post-IUD. Heavier, but nothing radically different. What was different was the few periods after that.

Period 2: A true week of PMS. Cramps, breakouts, irritable, sensitive, breasts felt as though they were made of concrete, bloating to where loose jeans hardly fit, craving all sorts of random foods. After that, I had ten days of bleeding, full out super tampons weren’t enough and I was grateful for Dear Kates and black clothing sort of ten days. Then after that, I had a week of recovering, so incredibly exhausted and depleted my brain took a while to get working again. Three weeks of being pretty useless sucks, but hey, it’s a new thing in my body, next month has to be better.

Period 3: PMS exactly five days prior, it was so clear when I woke that it might as well have rang my doorbell. So clear, that when I came downstairs after getting dressed and grabbed a mug of coffee from Karl he looked at me and asked if I was feeling okay. As soon as he said it a light went off in his head. He knew, and he knew after that to tell me my hair looked pretty and get out of my way. I hated being a walking cliché of PMS but I felt completely out of control with my body, my brain, my emotions. As soon as I got my period, my mood improved drastically (though the cramps stuck around). I was also excited that it started relatively light. Maybe I’d be going back to how I was pre-IUD! Ha ha, notsomuch. Day 2 was so heavy I requested to work from home. Day 3 was a Saturday and I was feeling miserable. I was reading online and saw some people recommending orgasms for relieving cramps. Karl and Emerson were away so I decided to take care of things. When I accomplished my mission, I had the most severe shocking pain in my womb that I almost threw up. It felt as though the IUD had punctured through a part of me. I was literally seeing stars and crawled to the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit but by time I got there… it was over. I was scared. I kept pressing my lower abdomen but the pain was completely and totally gone. So gone it made me wonder if I was going crazy, but I could vividly recall the pain. The rest of my period was similar to the last – it was nine days long and all but the first and last days were extremely heavy.

Period 4: Five days of stereotypical Midol commercial PMS. The period started relatively light, and Day 2 was lighter than before, though still heavier than pre-IUD. It was Day 3-5, can’t recall but I was feeling really dreadful but to prevent such an experience as last time, I decided to deal with it with some ibuprofen, a heating pad and a nap. Even so, I was awoken by extreme blinding pain. I got up and called Karl and he could see how bad it was by the look on my face and that I was sweating. But then it subsided. But unlike the previous time, it didn’t go away. This pain was a bit like when you get a stitch in your side from running, but it was down in my lower abdomen. When I moved a certain way the pain was stronger. Again it made me feel as though the IUD had punctured me. The pain would come and go, I decided if I still had pain the next morning I’d go to the emergency room. The next day, I felt completely fine. I decided if I had such pain the next month, I’d go and get the IUD removed.

Period 5: Horrible PMS and nine days of medium to heavy flow. However, no sharp pain. I did get more achy of cramps around Day 3, but with some Extra Strength Tylenol was able to get through the workday. I still had a week after where I felt drained, but either I was getting used to it or it wasn’t as intense.

Period 6: Same, though I was down to seven days.

Period 7: Same PMS, though no cramps or aches during my seven-day period.

Period 8: PMS was only for a few days, and not as obvious. I could still wear my pants and jeans, though they were snug. My period lasted for six days, and while one or two days were heavy, the rest was manageable. Only a day or two after where I felt exhausted and braindead.

Around October I told Karl I couldn’t take it anymore. I was done with being useless three out of four weeks a month. It’s as though my body heard me and decided to even itself out.

The New Normal

After that last period, things became more… normal. I do have PMS, but it’s less than 5 days and not as glaringly obvious. I can handle a major presentation if need be, and I can get on my pants though they’re still snug. I adjust my blog editorial calendar to not have photo shoots for outfit posts during this time (Want to really feel bad about yourself? Put on too-tight clothing, slap a bunch of concealer over your dark circles and breakouts, and stand in the middle of your street while your husband tells you things like your necklace keeps lassoing your heavy painful breasts and your pants are giving you camel toe. Then go through the 100+ photos and try to find some where you don’t look insane or on the verge of tears).

The week of my period I am more diligent with staying hydrated, watching what I eat, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. My period is heavier than it used to be, but it’s only 5-6 days long, and I have gone back to using a Diva Cup and haven’t needed backup. There’s little recovery time after my period; I’m a bit more tired but the brain is working properly.

Would I Recommend Getting an IUD?

Heck yes! Sure, there was some pretty rough moments (which from all research and discussions with contraception experts seems to be rare) but I’m glad I got through them. I feel I now own my body and my sexuality, no longer controlled by condoms, calendars, or hormones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you (or your partner) feel it? If I put in a finger and press down, I can feel two little strings the consistency of finishing line. I have to actively be looking for them and adjusting to do so. Karl says he’s never felt them.

How should I prepare for an IUD insertion? Schedule it for the week right after your period ends. Wear comfy clothing, don’t go on an empty stomach. Take a pain reliever before and plan that you may feel gross the rest of the day. Rest.

How is sex after the IUD? Same as sex before. My body reacts the same, everything is the same. It hasn’t affected anything except that we no longer are restricted by condoms.

Can you use a Diva Cup with an IUD? Most literature says no, but sex educator Karyn Fulcher shared in the comments on my previous post that the concern is suction, not getting caught on the strings. If you break the suction before removing your Diva Cup, you should be fine. I started using a Diva Cup again by the 6th month and haven’t had any issues at all.

If you have any questions, do ask them below. I learned so much from all of you with the last post, and I know many of you gained much from the comments as well.  We deserve to have as much information as possible and the ability to own our bodies, our health, and our sexuality! 

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  1. Did you know you can plan your family effectively and naturally with Fertility Awareness method WITHOUT ANY side effects or health risks?? Why put foreign substances in your body that alter your important hormones when pregnancy isn’t a disease?

  2. I’m actually a bit tearful thinking about what a heroine you are to be openly discussing this stuff! You’re such an inspiration! I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such a tough time with it, but glad it’s settled down now.

  3. I just had my 2nd Mirena put in a few weeks ago. I haven’t had children so the insertion was really painful. This time I had a couple days of cramps and then back to normal. No periods for years. I love it and wish I’d done it 20 years ago instead of 5! Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. I’ve had the Paraguard for a little over a year. The flow is heavier than before, but it has lessened and stabilized a bit now and it is manageable. I didn’t notice any worsening of my PMS – I had mine put in at six weeks postpartum, though, so I attributed any hormone swings to that and not the Paraguard.
    My husband does plan to get a vasectomy in the near(ish) future, but this has been a good solution for us for now. I just left my job and I like knowing that no matter what kind of financial instability may be ahead, at least my birth control is taken care of.

  5. Wow. I have the Mirena (which of course does have hormones) and have had nothing like this. It’s been a breeze. I opted for the hormonal one because I have endometriosis and the hormones help to keep it manageable. I am sorry this has been your experience, but it’s great that you are willing to share. I’m sure there are others that have experienced similar!

  6. I’ve had the Mirena for 3+ years & love it. Only had 6 weeks of spotting after insertion & no periods,PMS, or side effects since. It is a very low dose of hormones – undetectable in blood tests – so it doesn’t bother many women sensitive to hormones. Highly recommend!

  7. Another inspirational and revealing post. Thanks, Allie, for a candid revelation of your own experience with birth control.

    When I was younger, I used the sponge (ecch, still remember the awful after effects from the awkwardness of inserting it and then the stinging burn and itch after intercourse), the Pill and condoms. I hated using the Pill, but it was very convenient to take and gave me peace of mind.

    I suffered from severe menstrual cramps since day one when I began my period at age 13. I always suffered during my period and, since my dad worked in medicine and was usually in the hospital when I arrived in the emergency room, he was well aware of my pain and did everything known to medicine to relieve my suffering. Finally, at 37, I could no longer bear the pain from what was diagnosed as an extreme case of endometriosis, fibroid cysts and an enlarged right ovary, so I had a hysterectomy. After that, I was relieved not to have to be “crippled” by my monthly cycle. I feel for any woman that suffers and worries about birth control, but am grateful for no longer having to worry about becoming pregnant.

    Now that I’m older, the hormones I carefully avoided all those years when I was younger are now a part of my regular routine in order to avoid the post menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, severe mood swings, night sweats and loss of sleep. I now feel “normal” after so many years.

  8. I haven’t had an IUD (but have been contemplating it for a while since I am terrible at remembering to take my pill!) I just wanted to thank you for your honesty and openness in discussing a subject that typically doesn’t get discussed much in public 🙂 Out of interest, why did you not choose the hormone one? (As I’ve heard from a few people that the copper one has a LOT more side effects)

  9. When I got my Paragard IUD, I was a hormonal wreck for about a week, but my doctor said that it was probably not related, since the Paragard is non-hormonal. I was skeptical. My periods were fine, about the same as normal. And then, after 7 months with the IUD, I got pregnant. Strings still there and everything. Looking back, I thought I felt the IUD a couple times after sex, but told myself I was imagining things or that that was normal. But it had slipped out of place (but still there, hence the strings). Now I’m 2 weeks away from my due date with my surprise IUD baby! Every single health professional I’ve seen during this pregnancy has been shocked and told me I need to play my odds in Vegas! Needless to say, husband is scheduling a vasectomy for a couple months after the baby (our third) is born.

      1. Another thing we have in common – my husband is a testicular cancer survivor too! (He’s actually offered to have the procedure done, saying, “it can’t be any worse than the cancer surgery!)

        I tried the Paraguard too – after B was born (he’s six) I had painful, awful symptoms for 6 months, and finally discovered that my body was rejecting it.)

    1. I’m with you Ms. Brooks…high five! My husband had a vasectomy after we were done having kids. Reading this discussion I realize how I’ve taken these hassle and discomfort-free years for granted. Everyone needs to do their own thing of course, but it’s been pretty sweet for us.

  10. Whoa! I had all of your symptoms without an IUD. Turned out I had very large fibroids. I’m actually in the hospital right now recovering from surgery to remove them along with a hysterectomy. It’s so important that we follow up with our doctors when our bodies are telling us something’s up. There is so much emphasis on breast health – and we all know to get regular gyno checkups. Quality of life is so important. If you have pain and can’t function half the month or more, go see your doctor! I actually saw a new dr. after feeling the old one was dismissive of my complaints. New dr. recommended an intravaginal ultrasound because she suspected fibroids. I’m miserable now but am looking forward to no hormones, no condoms and no more miserable periods.

    P.S. If the fibroids weren’t an issue, I was planning to go for an IUD. From my own research, they seemed the right choice for me.

    1. I had a similar experience – 10+ years of horrible PMS followed by at least a week of heavy menstrual bleeding and serious cramping. Various doctors assured me that all was fine and refused to do a hysterectomy because I was “too young” at 37, even though I had two kids and didn’t want more. Finally, I ended up having a hysterectomy at 38 because a new doctor found a grapefruit-sized fibroid that no one else had noticed (or bothered to look for). The moral of the story is to speak up and make sure your doctor isn’t dismissing your symptoms without investigating all possible causes.

  11. Had the Mirena for about 6 months before it came out on its own. Most terrifying moment of my life. It was a good thing I was home because I stripped in the middle of the hallway without a second thought. I felt like something was trying to claw its way out of my body.

  12. I had Paragard 2006-2010. My periods were heavier than they were on hormonal birth control, but not as bad as you decribed. I had Mirenas after both babies, and no periods. My youngest is now two and a half and my period has not returned.
    I love not having to worry about birth control and I am a huge advocate for all types of IUDs.

  13. I have had Mirena for two years and I love it! It was rocky for the first 3-6 months with frequent, light bleeding, but now I don’t get a period at all. It’s awesome.

  14. During my 2nd pregnancy, my husband and I decided that I would have my “tubes tied” after our daughter was born. However, a few weeks before my due date, he asked me not to have the procedure done. He didn’t want me to make a permanent decision regarding my fertility in the midst of a temporary situation (a difficult and trying pregnancy). 6 weeks after our daughter Emaleigh was born, my OB/GYN put in the Skyla IUD. The first few periods were difficult – heavy flow and PAINFUL cramps. But now, nearly 1.5 years later, my periods are regular and last 3-4 days with minimal cramping. As someone who suffered from endometeriosis, the IUD is a wonder device. In another year and a half, we will make the decision if we are going to be “done” having babies or expand our family – but this time if we decided to call it quits, hubby is going under the knife….and I am getting another IUD!

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