An IUD, or intrauterine device is primarily a small contraception device that is prescribed by a doctor and inserted (sometimes painfully) into your uterus, staying there for roughly 5 years. IUDs slowly release a hormone which thickens the mucus at the entrance to the uterus, as well as thinning its lining. Everyone has their own experiences with these - some positive, some negative. We spoke to Annie, 30, about hers.
Here are four things she wishes she knew about IUDs before getting one.
- That they exist. Period.
“As a lesbian, I didn’t need an IUD for contraceptive reasons, but rather because I had had earth-shatteringly horrifying experiences with period pain, and heard that these little contraptions could help. I was willing to try anything, but didn’t hear about IUDs until my late 20s. My biggest regret is that I didn’t know they existed sooner - I could have saved myself a lot of agony. I don’t know why there seems to be relatively little awareness about these things, they are magic.”
- Yep, the procedure hurts like hell.
“When you get a prescription for an IUD, you have to go to the chemist to pick up the device. The size of the box you are given is nothing short of terrifying, it is enormous. And you think to yourself… ‘that’s going in my uterus?’. The reality is, after unboxing it, it’s way less scary - the actual IUD is actually very small. That being said, the insertion is quite invasive - and really does hurt, if only for a few minutes. I definitely threw a few expletives around the room when it was going in. They also only gave me a nurofen to help with the pain, which seemed a bit ridiculous considering.”
- Farewell period.
“I knew (or desperately hoped) that the procedure would help with my period pain, but didn’t realise how dramatically it would influence my actual periods. After the initial adjustment period, which was a few uncomfortable months, I haven’t needed to use a tampon or pad in four years. Sometimes I will lightly spot bleed, and put down a precautionary liner, but that’s it. I also haven’t ruined any of my bedsheets, undies or pants in a long while, which has really given me a new lease on life.”
- (For me) It’s worth it.
“The process for me to get an IUD was incredibly difficult. I tried to get one through the public health system initially, and they took me on an insufferable wild goose chase for over a year. I eventually folded and got a private prescription, I think it was around $350 all up, but I was able to get it done almost immediately. Yes, the procedure was uncomfortable and painful, and yes, it took my body a while to adjust. But to now be able to live a life without excruciating period pain, without ruining my clothes and bedding, without needing to shop for tampons and to not have to even think about my period - it’s bliss. I would do it again in a heartbeat.”IUDs are not for everybody, but can help with contraception and period pain for some people. It’s important to note that not everyone will have the same experience, and there are some medical risks involved with the procedure. Your best course of action if you’re considering getting an IUD is to do your research and chat to your GP about your options.