A little backstory: I am 24 years old, have never been pregnant, am in a monogamous and STD free relationship.
Condoms: Aside from general dislike (uncomfortable, mood killer, that rubber taste/smell that just lingers), I have a latex sensitivity which is no fun when my vagina is involved. The only kind of non latex condom that is readily available in my area turned out to be too small and ripped on several occasions, which resulted in me having to take Plan B a couple times.
HBC: I tried two different pills in a 7 month period, and considering my history with depression, that did not turn out well. I became insecure, jealous, and suicidal. I stopped taking hbc altogether when my boyfriend had to drive me to the ER and check into the psychiatric unit because I pretty much stopped being able to function.
Withdrawal: My cycle has been fairly regular for a number of years, but still varied from about 27-36 days. That window was far too big for my hypochondriac self, plus some more general dislike that probably belongs in the TMI community.
I almost backed out of getting my Paragard because of all the negative stories I heard, but so far I am VERY glad I didn't! Insertion was quite painful, and my OBGYN didn't really explain what was happening at all, just went about her business and made some idle chit chat. I was fine almost immediately after, though, and could have driven myself home although I took friends' advice and got a ride. I put on the horrible, diaper like pad the Dr. gave me and went about my day. My periods were generally very short and very light (usually 1-2 days of pretty bad cramping and only 4 days of light bleeding), and as I had it inserted on day 3, bleeding had almost entirely stopped later that night. Cramps got pretty bad with some cervical discomfort about 2 hours after insertion, they were worse than typical period cramps, but nothing I couldn't handle. As much as I was looking forward to the instant protection it offered, my cervix was way too tender for 2-3 days to even THINK about anything going near it. My first full period with the Paragard was 7-9 days, with the first few days being far heavier. I'm currently a couple of days into my second period, and it's much the same.
All in all, the Paragard was definitely a GREAT option for me. The only mildly negative comments I have: I occasionally get a twinge of something in my lower abdomen that I think may be the IUD poking me (my Dr. did say I have a small uterus), but that is getting less and less as time goes on, and increased vaginal discharge. I'm hopeful that my periods will eventually get back to where they used to be, but it's worth it to me even if they don't. Not only has my mood significantly stabilized, I find that sex has gotten much better for several reasons:
1. I don't have artificial hormones interfering with my sex drive or ability to self lubricate.
2. There is absolutely no interruption during sex to find a condom, wonder if I took my pill, worrying if he's going to forget to pull out, etc.
3. It's the most effective form of reversible birth control. As people who are genuinely undecided if they will have children at all, this is a HUGE plus for us!
All that being said, I do still have one question for you guys: Now that my period is heavier and longer, I would really like to be able to use a menstrual cup. I've never used one before, and I've heard very mixed things about using them with an IUD. I mean to ask my Dr. next month during my annual check up, but wanted to get some advice in the meantime. I know there are a bunch of posts on the subject already, but I don't know whether or not it makes a difference that I've never been able to feel my strings. I've tried at various times during my cycle, and my Dr. never mentioned a self check, so I'm thinking it's her standard practice to cut them flush against the cervix.
And thanks for all the great info I've gotten from the time I spent lurking these past few months!