Two Strings Attached

I had no idea that me getting a piece of plastic inserted into my womb would cause more of a response to my instagram DM box than anything else i’ve ever posted. I booked my appointment about a month in advance, and asked on instagram what people’s experiences were with insertion and the aftermath. I had a LOT of responses, and they were mostly good saying that it wasn’t too painful with a few “I actually passed out afterwards” scattered int here. It’s safe to say, when it came to the day of my procedure, i was shooketh. I contemplated cancelling the appointment for ages, but after experiencing an anxiety attack in public (which have worsened since starting oral birth control 4 years ago) and then having to deal with almost a week of bleeding, I knew I was making the right decision.

Ideally the Doctor/Nurse may want to insert the device whilst you’re menstruating (at the beginning of your period) because the cervix opening would be more dilated and the process should be a lot smoother and less painful but it’s not an absolute must (I wasn’t), and I don’t believe they will refuse to do it the procedure if you’re not menstruating. My appointment was midmorning; I made sure to take ibuprofen, codeine and paracetamol about 45 minutes prior and to eat – at least something small – so that I didn’t feel too nauseous on an empty stomach or pass out from low blood sugar. Konrad (my boyfriend who also doesn’t want babies right now) came with me and stayed throughout the entire thing. Some people were a little shocked when i mentioned this on instagram, because their partners weren’t allowed to be with them for theirs which I personally think is absurd; as long as they’re not the in way then they should be able to sit there and at least hold your hand or distract you – push your doctor to explain why if they say no!

  • Firstly the doctor (who I love with all my heart) asked me why I wanted to change my birth control, and what device I wanted. There are a few different kinds but it essentially comes down to a hormonal device or non hormonal copper device – they both different side effects. The copper iud was likely to cause heavier bleeding with periods throughout its duration whereas the hormonal iud commonly lead to your periods stopping altogether. For me it was a no brainer, and I wasn’t overly concerned with the presence of hormones as they’d be localised as opposed to dancing all around my body like with the pill. The doctor told me that the hormonal iud aka Mirena stays in place for 5 years, which is a massive selling point of the whole thing.
  • As I mentioned before, I was taking oral birth control and on the day of my procedure, had a few days left before the 7 day break. I didn’t continue taking them after the iud was placed – although through internet searching (I know, naughty naughty) suggested they be continued for another 7 days after iud placement. I have a feeling it was targeted towards people who would be sexually active (thus at risk of pregnancy) soon after the iud placement (Mirena is effective after 7 days), but baby if you feel as bad as I did – sex will be nothing but a fond memory. If you’re concerned about how to work your previous birth control crossing over with the iud placement, ask your doctor what they think you should do.
  • I took my clothes off, bottom half only of course and lay on the bed wondering if I should’ve done more *maintenance* down there. I trimmed at least, but this was actually not the first time this doctor had seen my vagina so I feel good about that at least. Ultimately they’re about put some plastic or metal in your womb – they will not care if you had a Hollywood or not. I had my legs apart and made jokes with the doctor about how most men who accompany their partners pass out more than the people getting the procedure done. She reminded me to relax as being tense will make the whole thing worse.
  • The speculum was first – if you’ve had a smear test done, you’re obviously familiar. it’s a device that winds open your vagina so that the doctor or nurse can get a good view of your cervix and have their hands free to do their thang. It’s a bit uncomfortable and I kind of felt a stinging or burning. My vagina has never pushed a human out of it and as my first smear is due this year, I’d never had it wound open with a speculum before either so it was a weird sensation. It was bearable as long as I was chatting away and not concentrating on it.
  • The doctor applied local anaesthetic I guess on my cervix – I don’t know if it was a gel or spray but a squelching sound happened and she said “that wasn’t me!” and it only dawned on me after that I may have queefed in my doctors face…
  • The next bit was definitely a good few ramps up on the pain scale from the speculum; they have to hold the cervix in place with clamps. It’s a very invasive and horrible pinching feeling that shocked me and almost made me jump off the table. Again, not unbearable but definitely worth preparing yourself for. It’s something i quickly forgot about when the real show went down though.
  • They have to check the depth of your uterus – if it’s too low then the iud may not be able to sit in properly and is at risk of coming out. I was an average 7cm apparently, and my uterus was roomy enough to accept a plastic flatmate. The probe is grimmmmm, it was sharp and my made my whole body go numb. I was shouting and starting swear words my mouth couldn’t even find a way to finish because of the pain. It was quick but enough to make me want to get off that table instantly and call the whole thing quits. I had to take a break.
  • Now here’s the thing; I assumed the iud was somehow attached to the depth probe and after that painful bit – we were done because they’d just pull it out and leave the device in there. WRONG. I had to go through the pain all over again, because they are two separate things –  i had no idea but this is what happens when you get your advice from 6-year-old american health forums. The second time i really had to gear myself up for; it didn’t matter how many deep breaths I took, I just couldn’t get through the pain – my face contorted to that of a gargoyle, and I was hot and sweaty all over, I was winded and my stomach was aching as if something was trying to burst out of it. I have a relatively high pain threshold, but there’s nothing I can compare it to – it’s not like breaking a bone or getting a tattoo in a really shitty place. It’s so invasive and overwhelming that all I could do was lay there in shock. It felt like it was going on for at least 5 minutes but in hindsight, it was all over quickly (seconds) – although I was very shaky after, I felt fine to walk the short distance home (although not alone).
  •  As soon as i got home, I took off all my clothes, got into bed and wrapped myself in to Konrad and had a tiny cry. He went and got me a hot water bottle and some panty liners and gave me food and drinks all day as I lay in bed. The cramps started immediately, and got worse throughout the day – but warned off mostly with the paracetamol and codeine combination I took. Every move was painful, and I couldn’t get out of bed for a good few hours. I couldn’t even poop because a) i felt like if i did, the device would fall out (it wont) and b) those muscles just weren’t co-operating. During the night, I had an intense wave of pain that woke me up out of my sleep – it was painful enough that it caused me to throw up. However after some sips of water, a few minutes of deep breathing, and more pain relief (which i suspect had worn off causing the sudden slap of pain) i was able to fall back to sleep.
  • The next day, I regretted not taking an extra day off work. It wasn’t impossible to get through the day; as a Veterinary Nurse, I definitely have my fair share of running up and down stairs and restraining aggressive dogs but I could’ve done with another day in bed. I took my hot water bottle with me and filled myself up with painkillers galore. I had constant cramps all day and didn’t even want to eat (but at least i could poop in peace now). I definitely started hitting the peak dose of pain relief meds because I was low-key delirious and slurring my words towards the afternoon. I think I took an uber home because I didn’t want to walk or get the bus, but i honestly cannot remember – I think the codeine wiped my memory, so shout out to you Solpadeine.
  • The bleeding was very minimal for the first few days after the placement – at first it was just minor trauma bleeding from having the device placed (more watery light blood than anything period like). As i was approaching a week of being off my oral birth control and a week of having the iud; the spotting increased. It was never full-on-i-need-a-pad-right-fucking-now bleeding but I am glad Konrad bought a multi pack of liners. It still hasn’t completely gone away and it’s been 12 days. The spotting can last 3-6 months with the Mirena device so i’m just gonna ride it out and hope it stops soon.
  • I stopped taking pain killers altogether 4 days after the placement. I still felt a little tender and got an occasional cramp out of the blue, but nothing debilitating. It was uncomfortable to bend over but luckily I didn’t have to do too much of that.
  • My mental state felt wobbly at first; as i mentioned before, i believe the oral birth control was causing an increase in my anxiety and general mood swings. My body had to readjust to a shift in my hormones, but I feel a more clear headed and happier already. The anxiety hasn’t disappeared and to be honest, i’m sure it’s too early to tell/it may not even disappear but so far no more attacks.
  • There is a risk of it expelling out of your uterus for the first few weeks after getting it placed; for that reason I’m abandoning my menstrual cup temporarily and abstaining from sex until I feel a bit more comfortable that it wont fall/get pulled out. I’m still laughing at the story one of my followers told me about going to pee and seeing it in the toilet – i’m praying for mine.
  • You have to go back around 6 weeks after to have it’s placements checked and be sure it hasn’t perforated your womb (to be clear; you’d likely know waaay before 6 weeks that this has happened due to the constant pain you’d feel – I also don’t believe this is very common).
  • Side note: my pill took my boobs with it. I got bigger breasts when on the pill but they’re gone now and i need y’all to fund my surgery.
  • (me immediately after getting my iud saying fuck u to the pain and my uterus for punishing me)

So, there you have it – my shitty but not too terrible experience having my iud placed. Some people messaged me and said they felt nothing but a scratch, some said they weren’t even able to go through with it after the clamps were placed. I think you should be proud of yourself either way for even volunteering to put yourself through something like this because it gave me a whole new respect for my body and how people deal with their reproductive (or non) health. I wish the NHS would be clearer with their page on this topic because for some it is far worse than “discomfort” and had I known the steps in more detail and what to expect, I maybe wouldn’t have been crying at home afterwards feeling like my cervix had been physically assaulted.  I hope this helps at least one person with preparing for their iud placement. I certainly have no regrets so far, and I will update anyone who has questions about it!

until next time,

Demi – Colleen x