So you’ve popped out dem babies and now you’ve decided to get a copper Intrauterine Device (street name: “IUD”.) Congratulations! This is a special time. Here’s what you’ll need to know – from someone who has become “with IUD” herself – before you begin your own journey down Pregnancy-Prevention Road with your new little copper friend.
Signs You’re Ready for an IUD: You’re currently not pregnant and you don’t want to be pregnant anytime soon. Your body HATES all those hormone-releasing contraceptives named after would-be Disney Princesses, like Yasmin, Camila, and Amethyst. Plus your “boyfriend jeans” actually look like you’re wearing your fictional boyfriend Channing Tatum’s jeans and not like your Skinny-Jeans-on-a-Fat-Day because – praise be – you’ve finally lost all that baby weight.
But first! Make Sure Your Partner is on Board. Haha JK. You’re golden. Nothing for your partner to worry about here. Chances are he’ll give you a big thumbs up and be grateful he doesn’t have to get The V Word (shhhh! Vasectomy!).
Just Reassure Him He Won’t Feel a Thing. Most men wonder, “will my enormous penis bump up against it?” And the answer is just a slow head shake accompanied by a giant eye roll and a little LOL.
Consider the Circumstances of Getting Your IUD. Some women would like to get their IUD in the comfort and intimacy of their own home, accompanied by incense, a warm bath, and a new-agey midwife. Sorry ladies. This isn’t a thing yet.
What Your Doctor Tells You Getting an IUD Will Feel Like: She will likely tell you to expect it to be like a “5″ on a 1-10 pain scale. “Like a sharp pinch, or a deep cramp,” she might say.
What Getting an IUD Actually Feels Like: Like a sharp, burning hot barbecue skewer has been inserted into your vagina, and is now poking around your uterus. For sport. You may want to consider taking three pills to half a bottle of Ibuprofen an hour before your procedure.
The Three Step System. It is nothing like the Clinique one from your middle-school days of yore. After performing an internal exam to locate the position of your uterus (a little to the left!), your doctor will clean your cervix by rubbing iodine on it with a long q-tip reminiscent of the one used in a particularly frightening “Nightmare on Elmstreet” scene . Next, she will measure the depth of your uterine cavity by “stabilizing” your cervix with the help of some kind of medieval tool that you probably shouldn’t think about too much. Lastly, she will slowly insert the IUD with a long rod (see “Hot Barbecue Skewer” referenced above), until it is in a good position and snip the threads at the end of it. Though this last part only lasts a minute or two, the pain will make it feel like eons. (You should try to go to your happy place while this is happening.)
A Picture for Grandma! After snipping the strings of the IUD, your doc will do an ultrasound to make sure the IUD has been inserted correctly. You’ll gaze dreamily at the little ultrasound screen, because your previous pregnancies have conditioned you to do so. Only this time, instead of a tiny beating heart and an alien-like head, a small, t-shaped copper thingie will appear on the screen. Try to resist asking for a picture to put in your memory book. Try not to muse about the kind of IUD your IUD will turn out to be in five or 10 years, or whatever future date it will emerge from. And whatever you do, don’t name it. (Although, “Mr. T. does sound pretty cute, right? Do you have any ‘T’ names in your family? Hm.)
What to Expect After Your Procedure (i.e. know before you go): Maybe drinks and dinner out with your Mom Friends after the kids go to bed isn’t in the cards. You’ll be cramping and bleeding, so you may want to queue up the last season of Orange Is The New Black, take a muscle relaxer or three, and attach yourself to several heating pads.
Afterward: All of the Feelings. You didn’t want to get pregnant anytime soon, or maybe ever again, but still… At least before getting an IUD there was always that teeny tiny chance that something might happen by accident, and then, well, it would be “meant-to-be”, right? Since an IUD is the most effective birth control out there, there’s no “what if” when it comes to getting pregnant by mistake. Prepare to look at your youngest child with tears of sentimentality in your eyes as you think, “I might never hold a little chubby hand that I made with my own DNA again.” Pour yourself a large glass of wine and start clicking through every image in your iPhoto library starting with your first bump pic ever, straight till now. Soak your keyboard with your tears.
The Waiting Game. This is the part where you batten down the hatches and wait for the floodgates to open. Your first non-hormonally-tampered-with period will be a doozy. Expect not to leave the house for the first three days of it and that the bleeding will last forever. Should be apocalyptic. Fun!
Say Bye Felicia…to any sperm that be creepin’ on your eggs. With the magic power of your copper IUD, sperm can no longer fertilize your eggs. You can now proceed to enjoy your once a week married-with-kids sexy time, WORRY-FREE. (Well, you might still be worrying about what the hell to pack in your kid’s lunchbox tomorrow because you ran out of bagels, or about that thing you forgot to get done earlier, or about the doctor's appointment you forgot to move. But that’s all on you, and not the IUD’s fault.)
Illustration by Nicola Hamilton. Image source.