July 18th, 2013

My Paragard IUD Experience (The First Six Months)

Hi there, divas! I have had my Paragard for over six months now, so I thought I would share my overall experience with you!

Background information
- 19 years old
- Never had a baby
- Monogamous relationship
- No hormonal birth control prior
- Periods prior to Paragard were painful and intense

Insertion
I got my IUD through Planned Parenthood, and because I'm a broke, unemployed college student, it was free. The whole experience was rather terrifying and nerve wracking to me, because I'd never been to a gyno, had a pap smear, or anything like that. The nurse sat me down and asked me questions about my sexual history, to determine if the Paragard would be right for me. She agreed that it was, and went to talk to the doctor. The doctor came in and told me she didn't want to do the insertion that day. I was about mid cycle, and she wanted me to come back when I was on my period. However, I told her I would suck it up, since I was already there, and she reluctantly agreed.

The nurse came back in with the tools, a giant bottle of lube, and the IUD itself in a rather terrifyingly large box. I had changed into a gown, laid down on a normal bed you'd find at the gyno, and put my feet in stirrups. I believe I have suppressed a lot of what happened from here, because it was rather awful. You can easily google the process if you don't know about it. My doctor was very kind, and would tell me whenever I was about to feel pain or cramping. I have a high pain tolerance, because my periods prior were intense. But not even the worse period in the world could prepare me for the pain I felt. About halfway through, the doctor wanted to stop. She said I wasn't ready for it, and insisted I come back on my period. I politely declined and said I was already here, I'll grin and bare it. (There was no way I would have come back to re-experience the first half of the process over again.) So she called the nurse in to told my hand. With a death grip, I bared the rest of the procedure. I experienced the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, twice. It was brief.. maybe five or six seconds each time. But it felt like an eternity. I knew what to expect from reading many insertion stories, and I expected the worst because I have never had a baby, and had terrible, painful periods. But nothing actually prepares you for that pain.

Side Note to Potential Divas
Don't fret. Because everything is worth it in the end. This is a phrase you have to tell yourself constantly in the beginning. And eventually you'll find yourself saying it less and less, until you're not saying it at all, because you've finally reached the end. The key is to never give up. Even when you want to rip the IUD out yourself (and you'll likely want to on more than one occasion), you can't give up. More than likely, everything will balance out by six months. Everyone is different, but your goal should be six months, and go from there.

Post-Insertion
When the procedure was over, I had awful cramping. They started off mild, but grew into something terrible. I had taken a couple of ibuprofen beforehand, but it definitely wasn't enough. It was pretty hard to drive home, but I managed. I then collapsed into bed and didn't leave. I had what equated to the worst period cramps I've ever felt (which means I'm in so much pain, I am constantly throwing up) for a week straight. I was taking ibuprofen around the clock and still had cramps. I was luckily on break from school, and didn't have a job at the time, so I could get away with this. It did not help that my period actually started the day after insertion.. two weeks early. So I couldn't tell if all this pain was from my period, the IUD, or a combination of the both. (But I'm pretty confident now that it was both.)

For about a month straight, I cramped most of the time. I was scared of getting an ulcer from the amount of ibuprofen I was taking, so I tried to stop. I was constantly cramping. Not as bad as the first week, but still wincingly bad. I would often leave class and go to the bathroom, just to sit and cry. This could have been fixed with ibuprofen, but like I said, I was trying to avoid it. I would take one here or there just to be able to pay attention in class.

My second period with the Paragard was awful, and just like the first. I bled SO much. I had never bled so much in my life. I probably bled the equivalent of three or four normal periods. It also lasted for a week. My periods prior only lasted about four days. But I bled heavily for a week straight. My second period also started about two weeks after the first. My cycle became all messed up, and I wasn't even getting off hormonal birth control.

The next three months or so, I would get random cramps. Sometimes they would be so bad, I doubled over and wanted to scream. Sometimes, they would just be a constant minor annoyance. And sometimes, I would actually be free of them. My periods from then on out became more unpredictable. I had one that was a week late, and my next one would be two weeks early. This boggled me, since I wasn't coming off birth control like most divas who report such things. My body really did not like my little friend. However, my periods did slowly become shorter and less intense.

Life With the IUD Now
Eventually, my random cramps stopped. My periods became fairly regular, and I get them every 25-28 days. The bleeding deceased significantly, though I still bleed more than I did before my IUD. My period cramps are way less intense than before my IUD, if you can believe that. I also experienced a cramp-free period when I tried a very strict / healthy diet.

It's safe to say that things are pretty normalized now. There were probably at least 10 times I was dead-set on either going back to PP and getting it removed, or pulling it out myself. But I kept telling myself it would be worth it in the end, and I'm happily there now.

There are some quirks about my IUD I should probably mention. The discharge is really rather strange. I had a LOT of it starting out, but as time has went on, there isn't too much anymore. It will be every (reasonable) shade, from pink to yellow to red to brown, and everything in between. It will have all kinds of weird consistencies as well. It's typically nothing to ever worry about, though it is strange and very annoying. I would suggest knowing the bad kinds of discharge to look out for beforehand, instead of worrying about all the different kinds you may experience. This is something that has diminished over time, though I still get some randomly.

Another quirk is that I am now pretty aware of when I ovulate. I never used to have any obvious signs before my IUD. I now get light cramping the day I ovulate, as well as bloody discharge (only one or two wipe's worth). I never made this connection until I realized it was always on or pretty close to the day my period tracker says I'm ovulating. One could easily mistake this for implantation, but rest assured. I get this on months I don't even have sex.

I really love my IUD. I hated it at first, don't get me wrong. It took me a long time before I even wanted to have sex, or could have sex with all the bleeding and cramping going on. But now I love it. I have free birth control until I finish college, get married, and decide to have kids. I love having a peace of mind with it. I use both condoms and the IUD with my partner, just because neither are 100%. But there is a huge peace of mind when combining the two. It's my little best friend, and well worth the wait. Those six months of suffering you go through are well worth the years to come of free and reliable birth control.