As of yesterday afternoon, I'm an official IUD Diva and I thought I'd share my experience here, since I found this community to be so helpful during my decision-making process.
It's a long story (as I'm very talkative and detail-oriented :P), so to read the full story, click below:
I'm a 26 year old NP woman in a committed, monogamous relationship. My partner and I had been looking at hormone-free, barrier-free birth control methods because, besides the regular benefits of spontaneity, low long-term costs, and convenience, he has problems with condoms. He has sensation issues so he has difficulty climaxing even without them; sometimes we just stop because condoms get too uncomfortable for him. To top it all off, he has a total complex about getting me pregnant before we're ready to have a family. The IUD seemed like the best option for us. (I was looking into the NuvaRing but was later told that it's a no-no for me because I've had a migraine with aura before.)
As I started to research, I really worked myself into a tizzy reading all the horror stories online about how painful insertion is. I didn't really want to do it anymore, but then I had two very encouraging consultations at Planned Parenthood and the Bay Centre for Birth Control in Toronto, where I live. After, I found this community, read some success stories, and decided to go for it, because I really hoped that this could improve our sex life. The IUD would certainly allay any psychological issues he has about getting me pregnant, and sex would feel better for him, without condoms. Plus it requires no upkeep on my part, and I'd have peace of mind because I'd continue to have periods.
My period began on Tuesday, so I called the clinic to schedule my insertion. I was told that it was best to get my IUD inserted on the first or second day of my period because not only am I guaranteed to not be pregnant, but also my cervix would soften, making insertion easier. This was very important to me because the clinic refused to prescribe misoprostol (cervix softener tablet) to me, saying it's not routine. They said that they only prescribe it if they have difficulty with insertion and the patient has to return for another try. I was puzzled as to why they wouldn't give it to me if I asked for it - why risk putting me through insertion twice? In hindsight, I really should have insisted.
Anyway, the clinic couldn't schedule me in until Friday, and I was sure my period would be over by then, so I was very put out. Additionally, my partner promised he'd accompany me and baby me all night, but he had a meeting he couldn't cancel on Friday, so I was very disappointed. But I didn't want to wait another month because I wanted to get it over with, and I knew that I'd chicken out if I waited another month, and I'd never get it done, so I agreed to the Friday appointment.
When Friday rolled around, I was rereading insertion stories and naturally, many of them are horror stories so I was psyching myself out again and was very close to cancelling my appointment - but I ended up going.
As soon as I arrived, a nurse came out to apologize to everyone in the waiting area for the delay because a few patients were "VERY unwell". Great - just what I needed to hear! I ended up not having to wait that long though, and before I knew it, it was my turn. To my delight and surprise, I ended up getting a doctor that a fellow IUD Diva from this community had recommended. You can't request doctors at the birth control clinic and this doctor normally works at the university nearby, so I felt a bit calmer.
I went out to the pharmacy to purchase my IUD and I saw on the prescription slip that the doctor from my consultation didn't specify which one, but at the consult she said I should get the Flexi-T300 because it's smaller and easier to use for NP women. The pharmacist ended up giving me the Liberte380, but I didn't know this until later.
The doctor knew I was nervous, so she was really good about talking me through things. The speculum was fine, the cleaning part was fine, and then she told me when I'd expect the first bit of discomfort - the clamp. I didn't cough hard enough so I could really feel that initial sting! It was a 3.5/10. Then came the sounding. It was moderately painful when she slipped it in, but the pain expanded as the measurement took place and became very painful - a solid 7/10. It morphed from a terrible period cramp to feeling like my uterus was going to burst.
Then came insertion. It felt like a very sharp needle was piercing me in addition to a milder version of the uterus-feeling-like-it-was-going-to-burs
The doctor asked if I'd ever been told that my uterus is tilted and I wasn't. So she gave it a third try and it still didn't work. By the third attempt I was very upset - that this wasn't working, that they didn't give me the misoprostol like I asked for twice, and mostly that my partner wasn't there for me, and that he couldn't witness the agony I was going through in order for us to have a better sex life. And because I knew I couldn't recover at his place afterwards. The whole thing is supposed to take a minute and I'd been here getting prodded for 5 minutes at least!
The doctor tried for the 4th time and because she knew I was distressed and she really wanted to get it in, it really, really hurt. I wanted to ask her to just stop, maybe the IUD just wasn't for me, I'd look for a different method...but she adjusted the IUD and was already going back in, and I was tearing up. I felt the awful, sharp pain of the tenaculum again - the doctor said she had to change strategies and directions and approach this from another angle - and then the most terrible sharp and burning pain - FINALLY, the doctor triumphantly declared that it was in. I still felt this awful pain in my uterus immediately after - in retrospect, I think it might have been the arms coming out - and I wanted to go, "It's in? Isn't it supposed to stop hurting? It's still very painful! Pull it out, this can't stay in there!!!"
But the pain started abating as she cleaned up and disposed of everything. The poor doctor was very apologetic, knowing how hard it was for me, and because she normally doesn't have this much trouble. Apparently I'm one of the lucky ones with a curved uterus AND a curved cervical canal so getting the IUD in was very difficult. She wouldn't give up though, because the sounding device went in fine so she knew she could get in there - it was just that for some reason the IUD wouldn't go in the first four times. She told me I could take my time leaving.
So after she left I laid on the table and cried. After I felt like I wasn't going to faint anymore, I slowly sat up, put on my underwear, and sat in a chair with my head back for several minutes. There was some cramping but it wasn't terrible, and I kept thinking to myself that the worst was over. I bled a fair amount - maybe a tbsp or two - right after but it wasn't too bad.
I left the clinic and had mild cramps but it wasn't too bad at all - could've been the T3, Robax Platinum (ibuprofen plus muscle relaxant), and extra strength Advil that I took, but apart from a few twinges here and there, the pain wasn't terrible. I mostly just felt an odd sensation in my uterus like something was off, but it doesn't exactly hurt.
Today's the morning after - I slept for 11 hours! I spotted mildly all night and am still spotting today but it's pretty mild.
If you're still reading, thanks for sticking through this superlong post!
Will be back to do a short term and long term update. :)