Let me start this off with a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I have no training. Hell, I didn’t even take science past high school. I do, however, have a vagina.
Many women use birth control for varying reasons, often starting in their teens. But there’s frequently a lack of conversation around methods other than the pill. Inspired by recent discussions about my contraceptive of choice, I thought to share my personal experience. Hopefully your friends will tell you the dirt, but if they don’t here’s mine.
Your first step should always be talking to a doctor. They can help you sort out what you need, and let you know if you shouldn’t be taking anything. If you’re embarrassed, just go to a walk in clinic.
I got an IUD almost two years ago, and I totally swear by it. It can prevent pregnancy within 99%, and it lasts for at least five years. Plus, it eliminates the human error factor.
IUD stands for intrauterine device and yes, it goes right up in your uterus. There are two kinds: copper and hormonal. Both perform the same function, but they can have slightly different side effects. I chose the hormonal IUD, and I have a couple friends with the copper.
Copper IUDS may give you a heavier period and worse cramps. According to those I know who have it, this seems to ring true but not in an extreme sense. A big advantage for them is that you get a regular period, and there are no hormones involved. Also, it’s cheap and has recently been approved to last up to ten years.
I’m a total baby and went for the one that wouldn’t affect my cramps. Consequently I had to pay a lot more, though my boyfriend paid for half. Don’t be afraid to ask for that, it’s for his benefit too. Hormonal IUDs release doses of progesterone that are 1/5 the amount you receive in a pill.
The side effects are similar to regular birth control pills, but with one big difference: you probably won’t get a period. This is a big drawback to some, and an advantage to others. Personally, I’m thrilled with the prospect. Besides that I haven’t seen much else (no weight gain!).
If you’re in Vancouver you should go to Willow Women’s Clinic. You’ll need to get the prescription from another doctor, but ask if you can get it inserted there. They’ll numb your cervix and you won’t feel a thing. Family doctors can sometimes insert it as well, but those I know who’ve gone that route haven’t had any numbing agent. Ouch.
The most dangerous part about an IUD is that it doesn’t protect from STDs. We’ve all had the condom talk, but it’s the only safe way to not wake up with something you’ll regret. Don’t throw out your stash just because you’ve invested in an IUD.
Finally, do some research. It’ll make you more comfortable than my highly unscientific stories ever could. Go to your doctor armed with a bit of information to discuss, and it’ll be smooth sailing.