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What 7 women wish they knew before getting an IUD

What 7 women wish they knew before getting an IUD

Getting an IUD is a somewhat paradoxical experience. On the one hand: OUCH (and yes, the pain is really bad for many women). On the other hand: you get safe, long-lasting birth control, and you kind of feel like a badass once it’s in (if you can handle an IUD insertion, you can probably handle anything). But if you’re a little on the fence about it, you’re not alone — only around 9 percent of women in the U.S. who use some form of contraception use an IUD as their primary method of birth control. Considering whether it’s right for you? We spoke to seven women about what they wish they’d known before they said yes to the IUD.

“Even though it was a bad experience, now I know it’s not for me”
“I had always been on the pill, but after my breast size increased from a B to a D — which I hated because, well, larger breasts are uncomfortable — my doctor suggested I try an IUD, saying that it might decrease my breast size. I didn’t realize at the time how difficult it was to try something like this. It’s not like the pill, which you can just stop if you don’t like. Getting it in was much more uncomfortable than I expected and there was no reduction in my breast size. The only change was very much mood-related — something I’d never experienced before on the pill. My primary care doctor ended up removing it for me. I wish I’d known that it wasn’t so easy to try the IUD. I guess I should have known beforehand, but once I didn’t like it, I kept thinking, ‘Well, I went through all the pain of getting it inserted; I don’t want to give up on it yet!’” — Ashley, 28

“I wish I’d known how long the spotting would last”
“I have the Mirena IUD. I’d relied on condoms as birth control for my entire sexually active adult life (except for one year in college on the pill) until recently. After settling into a long-term relationship, I was ready to ditch the condoms, and since my boyfriend and I aren’t looking to have kids anytime soon, a long-term birth control made sense. My experience has been mostly positive. I had severe cramping and nausea 24 hours after insertion and spotting for a few months — I knew it would be a possibility, but three months of spotting almost broke me. Since the spotting cleared up, my sex drive has increased and my periods have become lighter over time. However, my acne has increased, and I do have some slight hair loss. But overall, I love my IUD.” — Danielle, 27

“I feel like I have my life back”
“I had been experiencing something called dysfunctional uterine bleeding for about a year. After I had a dilation and curettage (also known as a D & C, it’s done to treat heavy bleeding as well as clear the uterine lining after an abortion or a miscarriage) in 2015, [the heavy bleeding] came back in April of 2016, which is why I got the Mirena about a month and a half ago. So far, the Mirena has stopped the bleeding. I was very sore the first few days, but overall I love it. It’s been great NOT to suffer from intense, heavy bleeding every day. While I would have preferred to have some pain meds when it was inserted — the insertion was so painful and intense I thought I was going to pass out — it’s otherwise been wonderful. I can’t tell you how many sheets and pairs of undies I ruined last year before getting my IUD. I feel like I have my life back.” — Caseyrenée, 29

“I would have gotten it sooner”
“I have the copper IUD. The pill gave me migraines, so I can’t use hormonal birth control. I also hated having to take it every day. The copper IUD lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years, and my insurance covered it, so I paid $35 for 15 years of birth control. I like not having to carry a pill pack with me anymore. Many people report having awful cramps and irregular periods with the copper IUD, but that’s not been my experience at all. The only thing I wish I’d known sooner is how awesome and convenient it’d be for me, because I would have gotten it sooner and saved myself a ton of cash.” — Amy, 28

“It’s the best option for my endometriosis”
“I have endometriosis, which is a condition where the lining of my uterus is found growing in other parts of my body. After having surgery to treat the endometriosis, my gynecologist recommended the Mirena to lighten my periods and ease cramps. Before the Mirena, I was on the combination pill for many years, until I began getting severe migraines with aura and had to stop taking it due to the stroke risk. I then tried the progesterone-only pill, Cerazette. But this pill made me bleed continuously (I had a period for two months!), made me really emotional, and also caused weight gain. It also didn’t help my endometriosis symptoms. Overall, I’ve found the Mirena to be the best option for managing my endometriosis. I’ve had some side effects, such as acne, but they have been manageable, and my gynecologist really prefers the Mirena option when treating women for endo. I have been getting large ovarian cysts, and I have been told the Mirena can cause these simple cysts. But my gynecologist believes I’ve been getting these cysts for years, and that the Mirena is not causing them in my case. I wish I’d known how painful having the Mirena fitted would be though — I would have had my coil fitted during surgery instead of afterward, as it was incredibly painful to be fitted a few weeks after pelvic surgery.”
— Kirstie, 23

“The side effects suck”
“I’ve had problems in the past with the birth control pill, because I’m very sensitive to hormones — even low-hormone birth control had a negative effect on me, which is why I eventually decided to look into the IUD with zero hormones. To be honest, my experience with the Paragard has been challenging. While I love the freedom of not having to take a pill every day, the side effects suck. I’d been told that the the cramps would be worse, but damn, nothing prepared me for the pain that comes around once a month. I’d also been told that light bleeding would occur between periods for about three months. However, mine lasted about eight months and ruined lots of my underwear. I wish I could get the IUD with hormones. I’m pretty positive that all the cons associated with my IUD are purely because I have the non-hormonal one. If my body were not so sensitive to hormones, I’d opt for a different IUD in a heartbeat. But I love that ultimately, I really don’t have to think about my birth control. It’s just there, doing its job. Every time I deal with my horrible cramps I remind myself childbirth will be so much worse, which terrifies me, but also reminds me I can push through it.” — Jessica, 30.

“I wish I’d known I’d have such a bad reaction to the Paragard”
“I first got the Paragard when I was 19 — I figured I might as well get the one that lasted the longest. The insertion wasn’t bad, but right away I had terrible cramps and the worst period I’ve ever had in my life. I put up with it for a few months, but my body eventually rejected it. After that, my doctor tried the Mirena, and it was a breeze. I’m on my second one with no problems, and I haven’t had a period in years, which I love. I wish I’d had my ACA insurance when I got my first IUD. I had to meet my deductible, so I had to pay $1,000 (this was back in 2008) to get the IUD. I viewed it as worth it for five years of birth control but it was still nice to not have to pay out of pocket under my ACA insurance when I got my second IUD in 2013. I’m actually worried about what the cost may be when I go to get a new Mirena in two years due to the political climate and all the calls to abolish the ACA.” — Crystal, 27

  • I wish I’d known it would nearly eliminate periods. I tried the pill and the stick first. Then 4 years ago I got the Kyleena IUD and I have used less than half a box of soft cups to control bleeding. So I haven’t had to buy any period supplies in 4 years! It was very uncomfortable when inserted but I felt normal that evening. No pregnancies (yay), reduced sex drive (ok), no weight change. Not sure if it affected my anxiety or high blood pressure. This year, my breasts grew, without my weight changing, but not by much, and that could be due to other factors since I also started eating a plant based diet and am consuming more soy and such. Overall, I couldn’t recommend this highly enough and plan to get it again when the 5 years is up.

  • I got my Mirena IUD in October 2021, so I’ve had it for a little over a year. At first it was very painful and it took over a month for the cramps to stop. But now I don’t even have my period. It’s like it’s not even there. Unfortunately, before I got the IUD my breasts were already a 34 DD but because of the IUD I switch to a 36 DD a couple weeks ago and recently I’ve noticed that I need to go up a size again. Bras are so expensive and hard to find that are my size now. Also I gained weight with the IUD and ive noticed more acne I also get frequent headaches. I’m very glad that I got the IUD because I don’t have to worry about taking the pill, but im not sure it’s worth having to pay $100 for a bra.

  • I got one nearly 3 weeks ago and it has been an emotional rollercoaster. I got the Merina IUD after my doctor suggested it for endometriosis. I’m 28 so there were concerns about scarring. It hurt incredibly and I’ve had menstrual cramps from day one. My cramps have always been as bad as labour pains(I had a miscarriage so I know the feeling) so having them for weeks is not a joke. The pain is starting to come and go and the spotting continues. Last night the hormones kicked in and I have a lot to complain about. I have intense headaches, a weird tooth pain sensation, tender breasts, nausea, loss of appetite, dizziness and a numb sensation in my arms and hot and cold fevers. I have noticed mood swings but now that the pain died down I’m doing okay. I think the moods are circumstantial. My breasts are tender but thankfully they seem to be getting smaller and I’m losing weight which is very odd because from what I read it does the opposite. Mostly it feels like the first few weeks of pregnancy combined with a heavy, monster period.

  • I have Kyleena and im on the 6th month, which means I’m finally at the part where my periods are supposed to lighten, and when I first got it I bled non stop , very heavy, for 3 months!! That finally went away and now it’s just spotting for like 2 weeks and then it’ll go away. When the spotting goes away my sex drive is like through the roof!! It’s made my life way easier because now I don’t have to remember a pill or freak out because he didn’t pull out fast enough , I just have to keep pain meds on me when my monthly comes around because the cramps do get pretty intense.

  • I had my mirena in for 4 years now.. only cons I would have to say is the spotting from time to time.. sex was a bit uncomfortable because my boyfriend would occasionally hit it and it would pinch me. 🥴 but no pregnancy for 4 years! Which is a pro!! Inserting was a breeze because I was numb.. Which was great for me because I read the stories. And I would’ve probably die!!

    • Hey, did you have any issues with hormonal acne at all? How long did you bleed before spotting kicked in? I’m thinking about getting Mirena but I’m really hesitant about it because it’s the highest dose of hormones out of any of the IUDs. Also, what were you numbed with? How can I ask for that?

  • I was on the pill on and off for a few years, and then this past year my aunt, who is an OBGYN, was talking up the IUD to my sisters and I. I ended up getting the Kyleena 5 year IUD, and like it seems many are saying, the insertion was a lot more painful than I expected. I think pap smears are painful so I knew I wasn’t going to like it, but I almost fainted because I started hyperventilating. Then I had really terrible cramps and bleeding for about two weeks, and since it’s been going well. I never had an issue with the pill, but it is very nice not to have to worry about remembering a pill every day.

  • Paragard was my first IUD and it was AWFUL. First of all that insertion process was genuinely the most pain I had ever felt in my life. The cramps and bleeding were too much and I got it out a couple of months later. Now 2 years later I just got my Mirena in. After I told them about the pain of my first insertion, they gave me lidocaine(?) to numb me so it wouldn’t hurt as much. It was still very uncomfortable (I mean, they’re pinching your cervix 😳) but not as bad as the first time. I had bad cramps and some bleeding the first day and I’ve just been spotting since then. It’s only been a few days so here’s hoping this is my last time trying to find a good birth control. I’m sooo tired of experimenting 😓

  • I’ve had the Mirena for about two years now after the pill gave me nonstop periods and mood swings. After I got past the six months of spotting, I love it! Insertion was a pain in the ***! (I had to come back the following week of original insertion appointment to try again) It has helped with my PCOS symptoms as well. Don’t forget to check your strings! (I make my OB check as well every time I visit.)

    A 22 year old with her sex drive back

  • Just got Mirena about a month ago and while the insertion was painful, I am so pleased to basically get to forget about worrying if I’m pregnant for 5 years. I have been bleeding non-stop since I had it inserted and I think I’ll follow up with a Dr. if it continues much longer. I’ve just been trying to eat well and continue reminding myself that for 50 dollars, I can enjoy sex with my fiance worry-free. I’ve also noticed some bad acne coming back, but I hope my body will find it’s balance again soon.

  • I love my Liletta IUD. I’d tried every other birth control method available to me. All of them had side effects and ultimately, I hope I will stop having periods with it (I’ve definitely had fewer). I would encourage anyone to try an IUD. I know 8 other women who have one and they all absolutely love it. The insertion process for me was so easy. I got lidocaine on my cervix beforehand. It feels weird, for sure, but was not super painful. I had cramps for about 3 days and I get them when I bleed, but other than that I love it!

  • I’ve had the Paraguard for almost 13 years, and it’s been nothing but a blessing! I had some slight cramping during the insertion, but nothing bad at all – I’ve had worse period cramps. I got it inserted 6 weeks postpartum, so maybe that helped. I used to have extremely irregular periods before, but after (I got it when I was 36) I’ve been as regular as clockwork, every month. I’m now 49, and I’m still regular as clockwork. I have light to normal flow, no horrible bleeding at all, and never any cramps. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and my doctor says it will last for the rest of my reproductive life – it’s metal, so no hormones to need replacing. So don’t be frightened by these “horror stories”, just because some people have problems doesn’t mean it will be the same for you!

  • I too wish I would have done more research before getting my IUD. After having two kids, my husband and I decided we didn’t want to have to worry about birth control, so I choose the Mirena IUD. It gave me irregular periods and lots of cramping. After two years I went in to have it taken out and after the doctor was not able to do so, I had to have an ultra sound. Turns out it was not only embedded inside my uterus, but I had to have it surgically removed. If you have an IUD and experience discomfort or feel that it’s just not for you, get it checked out!

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