Our friends at YourTango asked 12 women to describe their experiences with the popular birth control method.
“It felt like labor . . . without the baby.”
Lots of women turn to IUDs as a reliable long-term method of birth control. But the process is not for the squeamish. It literally involves a procedure where a device, sometimes made of metal, is inserted into your uterus. God, that sounds awful. But how awful is it, truly?
How bad is it really to have an IUD inserted? We asked some women what it feels like to get an IUD, and some had pretty gory stories to tell. In fact, some say it is a lot more serious at times than an in-office procedure.
“Fun fact: if your cervix doesn’t dilate well, it is extremely likely your doctor won’t put an IUD in you in the office!” shares one woman who’s been there. Another fun fact: “Sometimes people need to be put under to remove the IUD because they can’t handle the pain of in-office removal, or the doctor needs a little more wiggly flexibility than would be OK with a conscious person.”
Eek. Here’s hoping if you give it a try, your experience will be nothing like any of these. Here’s what it feels like to get an IUD, as told by women who have lived to tell the tale.
1. I drank a bottle of wine afterward.
“Not that bad! I was really nervous about getting it inserted but also knew that, generally speaking, I was pretty tough with procedures (my teeth suck, so I’m used to feeling uncomfortable at the doctor). My doctor gave me a stress ball and told me to relax, explaining I would feel three sharp pains but it would be over fast. The first two were weird but not painful, then she warned me about the last one, saying it would be the worst. I verbally said ‘ow!’ and it kind of felt like a mix between getting a shot and inserting a tampon for the first time, all at once. It was over within a minute and I promptly split two bottles of wine with my roommate.”
2. It was awkward, but not too bad.
“I can only speak of Mirena, which I had twice. It was uncomfortable and maybe a tad bit painful, but it’s too quick to be a real issue. I would compare it to getting checked for dilation by a clumsy resident while in labor. Removing it is not bad either. They ask you to cough while they pull it out and it’s very fast.”
3. It felt like labor . . . without the baby.
“Unfortunately, without the husband/Lamaze coach, because who knew there were contractions when you were trying to AVOID babies, too? Nausea, hot flash then chills . . . but maybe that was from the alcohol swabs the cutie pie nurse shoved down my shirt. Lightheadedness and accompanying tingling . . . and not a good kind.”
4. Let’s just say it was hell on earth.
“At first, it feels like a regular pap, then you get to the cervix. Having never had children, I have NO idea what labor feels like, but once it passed through my cervix, my entire body broke out in a cold sweat, I became superdizzy and alternated between hot and freezing for about an hour afterward. For the next three months, I had pretty constant, sharp ovary pains at any given time until my body got sort of used to the thing. The thing never settled in my body, and it caused me to constantly form cysts. Once I got one the size of a clementine that wrapped itself around one of my fallopian tubes and decided to burst.
After I healed from that and had an ultrasound to find TWENTY SEVEN more cysts in there, I decided to take it out. Apparently, they get pretty situated within the uterine wall, and when they are removed, they take a ton of tissue with them. Having had my body try and get rid of it for about three years, it had wedged itself into my uterus pretty well, and when removed, it honestly felt like having a hysterectomy through my vagina without anesthesia. Cue the cold sweats and dizziness again.”
5. It triggered a labor-like feeling.
“The beginning feels like a regular pap smear, but then it goes aggressively beyond where you’d even imagine (even after reading about it on the internet a bunch). Sure, you know that it requires opening your cervix slightly, but what nobody seems to tell you is that any cervical opening can trigger labor-like feelings. Yes, THAT labor. Cramps come and go at regular intervals and then taper off after a day or so, but they’re painful and real and you wonder if you’re avoiding pregnancy or are suddenly IN one. This was the copper one.”
6. I barely felt it.
“I got mine nine weeks postpartum after my second kid. I had to ask if they’d done it yet; I barely felt it. I don’t know what that says about me!”
7. It was 10 seconds of BEYOND excruciating pain.
“I’ve broken my leg and had kidney stones (TWICE), so I know what real pain is. Thank god I didn’t read any horror stories before going in to have my IUD inserted, or I would’ve wussed out. Had I known in advance what I was about to experience, I’m not sure I would’ve gone through with it. It was basically 10 seconds of me screaming ‘MAKE IT STOP!’ at the top of my lungs, followed by me going completely white, feeling like I was either about to puke or pass out, while my legs shook uncontrollably.
It was awful. After I had some color back in my face (I had to sit in her office recliner for about 15 minutes to regain my composure), my gyno assured me that not everyone has as bad a reaction as me, but she did have one lady who passed out completely. Ugh. I hope it’s not nearly as bad when it comes time to take it out!”
8. It gave me serious cramps.
“For me, inserting an IUD felt like a REALLY intense cramp or contraction for about three seconds, and then the pain disappeared. I would say it was totally worth it, but I’ve had two different experiences (both with Paragard, the nonhormonal kind). The first time I bled for three months straight (like HEAVY, first day of your period kind of sh*t) and I had that removed. Then I got another about six months later and bled for a day, and I haven’t had problems since. I would still recommend getting one, but make sure your doc stays informed.”
9. The insertion was the worst part.
“It’s awkward AF and you have to go when you’re on your period. The actual insertion is pretty painful, like having really bad period cramp for a couple of minutes. Then the cramps happen on and off for the rest of the day. But SO worth it.”
10. It’s only really bad for a few hours . . . unless your body rejects it.
“Basically, you assume that there’s no way getting a copper IUD can really be THAT bad, right? Your ob-gyn begins just like you’re having a pap smear and all is fine . . . until suddenly it feels like your doc must have gotten mad at you and decided to pinch your uterus with a metal clamp with all of his/her might. It happens quickly, but it takes your breath away. Then, if you’re privileged enough to be able to do so, you go home and lay in bed for the rest of the day and evening remembering what it was like to be a teenager with menstrual cramps.
The next day all is well, and for about a month life is grand. One evening you’ll be out somewhere, and suddenly, your internal reproductive system decides it hates the IUD and it hates you even more for putting it there. Or maybe the IUD somehow got a copy of Alien. I don’t know for sure. But now it feels as though claws from hell have a grip on your uterus and maybe your ovaries too, and no one will be going down without a fight. This passes after about three of the worst hours of your life. Following this, you get to have 10 to 12 years of blissful, unprotected sex, because being a woman is awesome.”
11. There are much more painful things.
“I will say it hurts WAY less than the fertility check where they shoot dye through your fallopian tubes and hurts WAY more than getting a tattoo.”
12. My IUD caused more problems than it was worth.
“I hated my IUD. My body rejected it, and I was so sick for months before they figured out that it was the problem. They had to take it out to determine that, for some reason. Mine was copper. As far as putting it in, I didn’t realize putting it in was going to make me feel faint for a few hours after, and I couldn’t drive. I had to sit in the hospital gift shop for four hours because nobody could come pick me up. I cried for like an hour in public; I was so dizzy, nauseous, and exhausted. I just hadn’t been warned about it at all. People love their IUDs but mine was a massively horrific experience that cost me thousands of dollars to put in and remove and to see all the doctors to try to solve what the problem was.”
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Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim