A Very Special I.U.D.
This is a personal narrative about what happened with my I.U.D. As such, it does contain some pretty personal details, so if you know me in real life, be prepared! CW for some blood (mostly on page 5), dental trauma (page 9), medical procedures and details (throughout). Click here for a printable PDF and here for a black and white version. Text is captioned after every image.
Page 1: Hello, and welcome to Sexistential Joy, with your host, Julia! Today I’m going to tell you about my experience with an I.U.D., A.k.a. an Intrauterine Device. Check out Scarleteen and Planned Parenthood for info on how they work!
Page 2: (An arrow points to the I.U.D. entering the vagina) The I.U.D.’s arms are folded down during insertion. They fold out and only fold back down when the strings get pulled and it’s ready to pop back out. Getting it in actually sucked majorly. I’d forgotten to take ibuprofen ahead of time, and I’ve never given birth, both of which made it more painful for me. My cervix felt like it was yanked open! See, in order to put something in a uterus, it has to pass through both the vagina and the cervix. The cervix is a donut-shaped part that usually only lets babies and menstrual products out, and sperm/egg combos in. This is mostly to close the uterus off from infections. After all, the vagina naturally grows a lot of stuff, most of which is super good for you -as long as it stays there. Holding the cervix open is uncomfortable at best. In my case? Easily the worst pain I’d ever felt.
Page 3: As pregnancy protection, it was great, but… well… I had an increase in infections, including a few months of on-and-off green, stinky discharge. Also I had cramps that became worse, and moved lower in my pelvis. Felt like a bad U.T.I. (Arrows point to the location of the old and new cramps). Cramping also happened during orgasm. This defeated the purpose. And the final straw was when I simply couldn’t find the strings. You’re supposed to see if they’ve moved. So, after one and a half years, I got it out!
Page 4: My experience getting it in isn’t unusual. Lots of people decide to take short term pain because the I.U.D. is, straight up, one of the most effective birth control options. Plus, it doesn’t need to use hormones for it to wor, unlike pills, patches, rings, etc. Many people I know love their I.U.D. and would get it again in a heartbeat. I think I’m just super unlucky, though. Because the hassle with my I.U.D. wasn’t going in… It was getting it out.
Try # 1 Nurse: Wow! I’ve never seen this before!
Try # 1 Julia: Aaahh stop it hurts!
Try # 2 Doctor: Hm. This is not too common.
Try # 2 Julia: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIII
Try # 3 Doctor: Got it!
Try # 3 Jula: Oh god oh god oh god. How often does this happen?
Try # 3 Doctor: Literally never saw this before.
(Narration continues) What happened to me is rare enough that I didn’t find ANYTHING online, and at least two thirds of the people who tried to remove it had never seen it before. (I forgot to ask the second one, but she didn’t seem quite as surprised). But at least one other person, somewhere, someday, will have the same problem, and they should know what to expect.
Page 5: Basically, my cervix grew over my strings. They couldn’t pull the I.U.D. out without the strings, and they couldn’t pull the strings without ripping the skin (called the “epithelium”) of my cervix. How did this happen? My best guess is that the strings irritated the surface of my cervix, kind of like rope burn. As the area started to heal, the cells of the skin grew and attached themselves to my strings, holding them in place. Kind of like moss grows on a rock over time.
Page 6: Normally, removal problems are limited to the I.U.D. being stuck in the wall of the uterus. The uterine lining (or “endometrium”) tends to grow thick, soft, and fast, so that it can be shed more or less monthly (this is a period). When that happens, a gynecologist can insert a tool to sort of scrape it out. Then, things proceed as expected. If it’s really in there, or if the I.U.D. has poked through the uterus (Super duper rare, I swear!) then surgery is an option. Don’t worry, they won’t go in blind. They use an ultrasound to see where the I.U.D. is. There an outside one on the belly and an inside one, where the probe goes into the vagina.
Page 7: Back to me! I was first seen by a nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood. She explained:
Nurse: “It looks like if I pull it might come out. I don’t feel comfortable doing that here, so I’m going to send you to my medical director. If she can’t get it, then you may need to have a small, surgical cut to unbury the strings.” (paraphrased).
The second try felt even more painful. I cried. I brought my friend to have a hand to hold.
Doctor: “Since this is so painful, I need to refer you to a facility where you can have mild sedation. I could probably get it, but we don’t want it to hurt you more.” (Also paraphrased)
So, after fussing with the insurance, I got a third appointment. My cramping was so bad I couldn’t walk far without having to stop and wait out the pain. I needed this thing out and done.
Page 8: I was nervous going into the appointment. If mild sedation didn’t work, they would have to use general anesthesia and yet another visit for this. First, the doctor took my history and talked about the procedure. Then they gave me the drugs. It took thirty to forty minutes to kick in. When it did, it felt like I’d had a glass or two of wine. I felt sleepy, my pain died down, and I was a little bit lightheaded when I stood up. The doctor and her team made sure I felt in control the whole time. Even with medication, the process still hurt.
Doctor: Ok, I’m gripping your strings.
Julia: OW! Stop!
Doctor: Tell me when.
Julia: Ok, I think I’m ready.
Have you ever had a loose tooth that was not quite ready, but you pulled it anyway?
Doctor: Got it!
Julia: OW! That is what it felt like. But, you know. Out my cervix. (I think I crushed my partner’s hand).
Page 10: And that was it! After I was crampy and nauseated, but that passed soon. Because I had the Mirena, which uses hormones, my hormones went whacky and I had some periods that weren’t totally regular… but every body’s different. Now I feel great! So far I haven’t had any weird cramps, or the other symptoms. Fingers crossed.
Page 11: So, overall, not a great time. The question I keep getting is: should this deter anyone? And honestly, I don’t think so. I.U.D.s give you direct control over reproductive decisions. That, combined with low failure rates, makes it attractive for lots of people. I just happened to get a weird complication and wanted to share!
Lo siento, la traducción no está lista.