Tuesday, April 15, 2014

IUD (TMI), Part I

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for matcha green tea powder!

Those of you who know me in real life know that I am an open book: there is pretty much nothing I won't talk about. (And honestly, those of you who know me in blog land have probably figured that out, too.)

One thing that I like talking about -- and one thing I think more women should talk about -- is ladies' issues: for instance, birth control, gynecological exams, weird shit that happens down there, etc. I mean, if we don't talk about it, how will we know stuff? How will we share advice and help each other out?

Also, I'm a doctor's daughter: absolutely nothing was off-limits for discussion in our house. That has clearly translated to my adult life.

So on that note, I am going to tell you all the gory details of my IUD insertion last week. You can either stop reading now or thank me later. :)

Such a fun position to be in: "Just relax and scoot a little further down."
First, let's chat about why I opted for the IUD.

I went on the birth control pill when I was 17, and I went on it for period control (and okay, a little "just in case" insurance since I did have a long-term, serious boyfriend). The first pill that I took was Yasmin, and it worked really, really well for me.

Over the course of several years, I got switched to the generic versions, both Zarah and Ocella, since my insurance would not cover the brand-name pill if generics were available. When I initially switched from brand-name to generic, I had some definite issues (mainly irritability and other PMS symptoms) that I discussed with my doctor. She suggested going back on the brand-name pill because the hormone dose can vary quite significantly from brand-name to generic, making the generic almost an entirely different drug. (I am not going to pretend I wholly know what I'm talking about here due to my lack of pharmaceutical knowledge, but I one-hundred percent know that the doctor told me this.) However, I was not about to spend $50 per month on one medicine, so I decided to buck up and deal with the generic.

Yep, the pill that makes people die. Awesome.
A few years ago, I started having more issues: these ones, however, were much more serious. For about a year, I got a migraine about once a month, and I had never had a migraine before. It took me nearly that entire year to notice that each time I got a migraine, I was on the placebo pills, not on the active birth control pills. Being the Type A person that I am, I immediately did some research and realized that I was most likely suffering from menstrual migraines, migraines that resulted from a lack of hormones being pumped through my body.

Initially, I pretty much just thought, "Well, this sucks," and dealt with it. Yay, Ibuprofen.

I talked to my doctor at my yearly appointment, and she decided to have me take four packs of pills at a time, skipping over the placebo pills, so that I only got my period once every three months. This was awesome: getting my period fewer times sounded heavenly to me.

And it started out great. The first cycle went swimmingly -- until my period came, and with it the most killer of all killer migraines. It was like my body had saved up all of its headaches for three months, simply to pummel them at me all at once. It was debilitating, and I stayed at home in the dark for two days.

But, I thought that if that only happened once every three months, I could deal with it. So, I kept on truckin'.

Then, I started getting my period randomly. Maybe I was on Day 21, or maybe I was on Day 47, or maybe I was on Day 53 -- my body seemed to not care at all and gave me my period regardless. Some days my period only showed up when I wiped, and others it was full-blown, I-need-a-tampon-right-now. Some days I had major cramping, and other days I had no idea anything was happening down there.

And whenever my period decided to show up, it decided to last until it was supposed to come -- and then it just came more and more and more.

So essentially, instead of only getting my period once every three months, I was getting it once every three months for approximately eight weeks at a time.

I'm sure you can imagine how fun that was.

Of course, I discussed these issues with my doctor. She decided that instead of the Yasmin/Ocella/Zarah/whatever I was taking, I should switch to something with a lower-dose of hormones. (It was around this time, too, that I really started questioning the amount of hormones that I was ingesting, the amount of weird shit that was coursing through my veins on a daily basis.) So, she switched me to Loestrin, a very low-dose birth control pill.

Again, the first cycle was amazing: nothing was abnormal, and I just had a teeny migraine when I got my period.

The second, third, fourth, etc. cycles were a different story. Again, my body said, "Screw this shit," and gave me my period whenever it damn well pleased.

Meanwhile, all of my friends were raving about their IUDs, saying they were life-changing, that they cannot believe they didn't get them sooner, that it was the best form of birth control they'd ever used, etc. This entire time I was telling them that the IUD made me nervous because of how allergic my body is to absolutely everything: I was nervous that if I got the IUD, my body would attack it, and my uterus would get hives, start sneezing, rebel against me, etc.

Recently, though, I had had enough. I did not want to ingest crazy hormones anymore, I did not want migraines every time I stopped taking pills, and I did not want to get my period a.) sporadically or b.) all the time.

So, I discussed some options with my doctor. She mentioned a different type of birth control pill, one that would vary the amount of hormones throughout the month. And I mentioned the IUD -- specifically Skyla, the IUD with the lowest dose of hormones (aside from Paragard, the copper IUD that has no hormones).

We discussed the pros and cons of each, and my doctor (whom I love so much and trust entirely, one-hundred percent) strongly recommended the Mirena: it has hormones, yes, but it is a very low dose of hormones and is localized to my uterus, not pumping through my bloodstream like the pill. And, because it does have hormones, it will help lessen the duration (and oftentimes frequency) of my periods.

Since, like I said, I trust her wholeheartedly, I opted for the Mirena.

On the day that we decided I'd be getting an IUD, the doctor "measured the depth of my uterus." Friends, let me tell you about that: holy f'ing shit. It does not feel good. First, she inserted the speculum, just like at a normal gynecological exam ("You're going to feel some pressure"), and then I'm pretty sure she shoved something poke-y and stab-y up to my lungs through my cooch.

Apparently this is what the uterine sound looked like:

But for you visual learners, I'm pretty sure it actually looked like this:

Thankfully, that fun only lasted about 20 seconds until she told me that my uterus looked good and that if I can handle that, I can definitely handle the IUD insertion.


While she was all up in there, she also did a quick check for gonorrhea and chlamydia, as those are apparently not so great, especially with an IUD, apparently. (Don't worry, y'all: I'm a-okay in that regard.)

I did some quick math to figure out when my period was supposed to "for real" arrive and made the actual appointment. (Doctors recommend getting the IUD insertion during menstruation for two reasons: first, it means there is no pregnancy, and second, the cervix is more open.)

So, April 9th became The Day.

If you made it this far into the Emmy Birth Control Saga, congratulations! And please stop by tomorrow to get the real scoop on how the actual insertion went. :)

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  1. Not so sure about those socks you wore to your exam ;) Hope the IUD calms things down for you, I can definitely relate to birth control issues. I hated being on birth control so much I decided to go off and then I got this little things called a child.