AHOY MY FRIENDS. I use this greeting with purpose, for today a tiny plastic anchor was deployed into my uterus, an event I was not anticipating with much zeal.
Y’all might know that I had the Nexplanon (implant) put in around this time last year, and I lasted around 7 months before that came out (I’m sad it didn’t work out since insertion was ~0% painful and my periods stopped completely, I would definitely recommend trying it).
I’ve been on the lookout for another LARC (long acting reversible contraceptive) since I had the implant removed, as I’m too old and fat to go back on the pill and would much rather use something I can forget about completely; I knew an IUS/IUD was next on the list.
Folks, listen up, the best thing I can tell you is that:
- everybody/every body is different
- every uterus is different
- every experience is different
- I think that how you prepare for it counts for a lot
You can read all the stories/watch all the YouTube videos, but they range from the sublime to the ridiculous so really, what’s the point? (Lolz I watched a million.)
Sure, it’s helpful to know what you’re in for. In a nutshell it goes like this:
- Insert speculum to get a nice clear view of your expectant/unsuspecting cervix (not painful in the slightest, kinda weird and embarrassing if you haven’t had a smear test before but ultimately no bother whatsoever).
- Possible swabbing to do simultaneous smear/testing for STIs (didn’t feel it).
- Tweezy-grabby device holds onto the opening of your cervix to make the insertion easier (grabby, but not painful).
- ‘Sounding’ the uterus – this isn’t much fun, but it’s very quick. It’s a bit like using a dipstick to measure the oil level……big long stick into the cervix to find out how deep your uterus is (the OMG bit is when it hits the back of your womb, it feels weird and a bit like a cramp).
- Once they’ve measured, they know how far to put the coil-deploying stick in, and in it goes, and CLICK and it’s out and The End.
- Oh, aside from snipping the string. The End.
I was a bit unlucky in that the Mirena-deploying stick was a bit too big for my sad little narrow cervix. The doc tried three times to get it through, but my cervix was just like NOPE. She made an executive decision to go with the Jaydess (precisely the same function as the Mirena, but smaller and therefore lasts 3 instead of 5 years). Even those 3.8mm were a bit of a job and I did feel that final SHOVE as it went in.
Despite all of that, it really wasn’t the worst ever, and the good humour of my doctor and nurse helped enormously. It was absolutely nothing that isn’t worth 3 years of highly effective forget-about-it contraception.
And so….I say, sure, go ahead and read about others’ experiences and ask your friends about their own, but don’t get in a panic about it!
Instead, I suggest that you make a really great plan and go in with as much positivity and humour as you can muster. The first thing my doctor told me was “you are in control, if you say stop, we stop”. Even if your doctor doesn’t say that to you, remember that it’s true! If you’re unhappy or uncomfortable, just say. It’s not going to be particularly good fun, but you can make it a much better experience if you follow Jenny’s Top IUD Fitting Tips™️.
1. Find a good pal to escort you.
My lovely friend Emil once accompanied me to my sigmoidoscopy, a delightful shoving of a camera up the bumhole all the way to the beginning of the intestines. I was lucky enough to be given the most wonderful happy gas during that experience, but it was still a little grim. Emil brought along sticky buns, came with me for lunch afterwards and didn’t mind at all that my gut had been pumped with air that might parp out at any time (in Waterstones, much to my horror). Friends are good. Would recommend.
2. Get the best over-the-counter painkillers you can bargain for.
I strode purposefully into a pharmacy the day before my appointment and laid it all out for them; HELLO I AM HAVING A COIL FITTED TOMORROW AND I NEED THE STRONGEST THING YOU’VE GOT. The pharmacist was tremendously sympathetic and sold me some ibuprofen with codeine and all was well.
3. Get yourself a bath bomb or three.
I enjoy a soak in the tub at the best of times, so I knew that the impending Crampathon 2017 would benefit greatly from a hot bubble bath. I popped into Lush the day before and grabbed some bathtime treats and I suggest you do the same.
4. Get the treats in (cake and more cake also Chinese food).
When I was shopping for Coil Day supplies I paid a visit to V Rev, Manchester’s own purveyors of fine vegan junk food, and stocked up on donuts and cake. I also promised myself a Chinese take-out delivery the same night. Treat yoself!
5. Heat HELPS – keep a hot water bottle handy.
I once suffered the grimmest acute muscle spasm in my neck; it lasted 3 days and the only thing that helped it loosen up was a hot water bottle or a very hot shower. For me, the heat also helped the post-IUS crampy feelings a heck of a lot.
6. Take some time out.
I booked the day of my fitting off work, and the following day as well. I shipped the dog off to stay with her Dad so I could be entirely free to curl up in bed with cake, pharmaceuticals and a hot water bottle.
7. Get the Always Ultra in.
I haven’t used pads since I was a ween, but believe me when I say that you ain’t gonna be in the mood to stick ANYTHING up there in the day or so after your fitting, and your angry cervix might have some protest-bleeding to do.
8. You don’t have to hide it!
See, look folks, there was a part of me that wanted to write about how the burden of long term contraception falls on those of us with wombs, or about how there’s still so much stigma around ‘women’s’ ~issues, or around anything that involves vaginas and unpleasantness, but I’m altogether a bit too crampy for that, so I’ll just say that you should be absolutely unapologetic about taking some time out for yourself to feel better after your poor uterus has been assaulted. You have my permission <3