The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

What’s it like having an IUD?

Let’s talk about sex, birth control, and how to become a work of art
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

I love having my copper Intrauterine device (IUD).

As an individual who does not like the idea of having hormones added to their body, but does want the highest level of protection during sex — it was the perfect option.

If you don’t know, an IUD is a small, T-shaped device with two hanging strings, that you can get inserted into your uterus. Yup, sounds terrifying. At least, that’s what was running through my brain while I sat fidgeting in the waiting room for 40 minutes.

When I was considering getting the copper IUD, there was a major downside. It increases period cramps and flow, and is typically recommended for people who have lighter menstruation cycles.

But hey, I already had a painkiller prescription for my cramps: you know, the type of pain where you have to imagine you’re a Viking warrior with a stab wound — those menstrual cramps. Fun.

My doctor’s response to my IUD request was something along the lines of, “Are you sure? Let me give you another prescription too, just in case.” This naturally made me more apprehensive of the procedure, but I knew that any hormonal option would impact me more than extra cramps.

I also knew that I could get my IUD taken out anytime after its insertion — the myth that you’re trapped with it for the next five years is not true. It is, of course, better to wait two months and see how your body adjusts, but after that, do whatever you want! Now, having had my IUD for a year, my cramps have remained exactly the same.

People often hold on to what’s conventional and I’m grateful to have access to any method of birth control around me at all, but I also know that I should have the final choice over what goes into my body.

What works for one person might not be what’s right for someone else. That is to say, my experience is just one story. When I was growing up, no one taught me about any options beyond abstinence and the pill. That’s why I think it’s important to talk about other forms of contraception, like the IUD.

When I finally got into the insertion room, my doctor was nowhere in sight. After 20 minutes of staring at the harsh fluorescent lights, eyes roving over cheap ceiling tiles with my back pressed into the operation table, I heard a knock at the door. She came in to tell me that they were waiting for the instruments to cool down from their time in the dishwasher, which gave me a whole host of visuals that I didn’t ask for.

When she returned, she placed a little plastic tool inside of me that held the area open, sprayed an antiseptic down there, then talked me through the insertion cramps. I’m endeavouring to be nothing but honest and informative — and maybe, just maybe, slightly entertaining.

Afterward, I rated the pain of having the IUD placed inside of me as a seven out of 10. This may seem like an arbitrary detail, but I want it out there for any person trying to decide what they want to do to have a fun, safe sex life. I’ve had enough friends ask me about it and then decide to get one themselves, that I wanted to share with a bigger audience.

I didn’t have any cramps after the operation was done. I even went to a party that night.

However, some people have reported experiencing pain afterward, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. You don’t feel the IUD itself inside of you at all. You don’t beep going through airport security or anything like that either. Although, I do like to think that the fact that it’s up there makes me a cyborg.

I made the customary second appointment to have my thread checked a few months later. The threads allow the doctor to ensure that the IUD is sitting correctly in your reproductive system. My IUD is soft and high enough in your cervix that it shouldn’t be noticeable. It also curls up with time into a practically non-existent little ball.

Like birth control pills, for a reason that I don’t understand, the copper IUD has a name. Only instead of sounding like something a kid would name their Barbie doll, it’s called the Mona Lisa.

So, if you do decide to go ahead and get one, keep in mind that you are officially a work of art.