Hi friends! Long time no post! I'm trying to gear myself up to do some posting about life in Seattle since moving here and my upcoming trip to Japan in a week (!!!), and figured I could do a little warm-up routine by assigning a topic to myself. I decided today to detail about my experience of my procedure today of removing my old Mirena IUD and inserting a brand-spanking new one.
SQUICK ALERT: If medical details make you squeamish, now is the time to turn back. If information about contraceptives or female reproductive systems make you squeamish, then educate yo'self. If talking about this stuff is like "TMI" for you, then we're not very close, are we?
Since getting my IUD back in February 2011, I have become the Mirena and general IUD poster child. I like to think that I've helped several friends make the decision to get this super easy, effective, reliable, hassle-free contraceptive device, all of whom are equally thrilled with their choice. Once inserted, you never have to think about your birth control again, for the next 3, 5, or 10 years.
HOW COOL IS THAT.
An IUD, when inserted correctly (and if you go to your local GYN or Planned Parenthood/sexual & reproductive health clinic it will be), is 99.9% effective. Oral contraceptive ("the pill") is only 98.9 percent effective, and that's only if you take it every day, AT THE SAME TIME OF DAY and never skip an active pill. Um, I don't know about anyone else, but I actually have a life and ain't nobody got time for that shit. I mean, if you're on top of it, cool beans, but I knew many friends (myself included) who would repeatedly take 2, 3, sometimes 4 or even 5 pills in one go 'cuz we just got better shit to do than to remember to take a pill. Whoops.
So, you might be asking yourself, what is an IUD? Well, child, this post isn't about that, but I can happily guide you to Planned Parenthood's handy dandy page on IUDs. The basic gist, to catch you up to read this particular post, is that after a certain amount of time (3, 5, or 10 years, depending on the IUD), if you enjoy having an IUD and still don't want to have children, you can opt to have the now expired IUD removed and a new one inserted.
So guess who got her old IUD removed and a new one inserted today who has two thumbs? This girl! Thaaat's right! Just a bit of background information on me: I'm a (nearly) 30 year old woman in a heterosexual monogamous marriage with my husband of 3 years. I have never been pregnant and my husband and I don't foresee ourselves becoming pregnant for at least a little while longer, if ever. I'm practically a perfect candidate for an IUD.
I won't get into the misconceptions about IUDs and won't get into detail about the insertion since you can read all about that on IUD Divas, but I'm more going to go into the process of the removal and what the insertion was like after that, having experienced a previous insertion.
What It Was Like:
Removal: This was so easy but also so bizarre and weird it took my brain way too long to process it. The doctor opened my vag up with a typical plastic speculum (hers lit up-- how cool is that?!). She mentioned that my cervix was low, which I read here, meaning that my cervix was responding to a low-fertility and was probably also closed and firm. For a removal this is fine, but for an insertion this is less than ideal-- but still do-able.
For the actual removal, the doctor just reached in, grabbed my strings dangling from my cervix, and gave it a nice firm tug and out popped my 5 year old Mirena.
I forgot that my cervix existed. I forgot that a piece of my body, so full of nerve endings and imperative to my reproductive health, was still there. THAT reminded me of what the insertion was going to be like.
Dig, if you will, the picture: You're on your period (really pretend, non-identifying women readers), it's like, the first or second day, right when the cramps are at their worst. For the most part it's a dull reminder of your female anatomy and then BAM! you get that zinger of a cramp just debilitating enough to make you go in double for a second from the shock, but then it's over (hopefully).
That's kind of what like getting it removed was like for me.
The pain/cramp/weirdness/awareness was there for maybe, maybe 30 seconds, and then it was gone. I really wanted to cross my legs just to ease the bizarre feeling of it, but with a speculum up me, that wasn't going to happen.
Bonus: Dr. Tiffany showed me my old IUD once it was removed, so I got to say a silent so-long and thanks to the little guy.
Insertion: This took a lot longer than my initial insertion. I'd like to make a shout-out to my former place of employment, The Cherry Hill Women's Center, most specifically to nurse Paula for making my first insertion a quick one-and-done type of ordeal. While Paula inserted my first IUD as if she was working in a fast food joint (in the best way possible-- like a Chipotle or Panera), my new doctor, whom I still really like, was more like going out to a brew pub where the wait staff lets you sit at the table and enjoy your drinks.
Maybe it's East coast versus West coast. Or maybe the procedures have changed a bit in 5 years. Or maybe it's just different styles. In any case, I don't think my cervix has been bare to the world for that long ever.
I was reminded why I don't want kids if that's what having a vaginal birth is like.
In any case, despite the longer length it took Dr Tiffany to stuff up the new IUD, the pain wasn't as bad as I had expected. Maybe because I was prepped with the recent cervical awareness from getting it removed, or maybe because I had already had a previous insertion, I kind of knew what pain to expect.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that everyone (including me) forgot that I should take 800MG of Ibuprofen before the procedure to lessen the pain. Whoops.
Even despite that small set back, I didn't scream "OH, FUCK ME!" like I did the first time the IUD was inserted (sorry, Paula). If anything it was mid-volume "Hahhhhh!"s. And it was only two of those (when she inserted the insertion device, and when she actually inserted the IUD). The cramping, as with the first insertion, was typical and totally expected.
Afterwards, in my typical baby way, I became white as a ghost and milked all of the sympathy out of the medical staff, my sister, and my husband that I could. Thanks, everyone.
TL;DR: I believe my previous insertion experience prepped me for the bizarre feeling/pain that I experienced in today's event. I think this is pretty self-explanatory, but it made the whole ordeal that much less mysterious and therefore less shocking.
I hope this has helped someone in gaining a better understanding of an IUD removal and insertion procedure. It probably hasn't, but oh well. :-)