Let’s get this straight. I don’t often talk about my REALLY personal life on here (and when I say personal, I mean quite literally my uterus…) However, I believe the more chat to do with contraception and safe sex the better, and some experiences are simply too funny – and too painful – not to share.
Both my sister and I grew up in a household where contraception was openly discussed. At the time, my mum’s council job was to lower teenage pregnancy, and she used to bring boxes of condoms home – they’d pile up on the table in the hall under the junk mail. My mum would give them to my sister, who was 16 at the time, to take to high school, where she’d hand them out like candy.
Whilst condoms made sense to me, I’m ashamed to say I never took the time to really understand what IUDs were, mainly because they looked like terrifyingly sharp anchors ready to get lodged into your body forever. But, afer a recently bad reaction to a new contraceptive pill Cerazette (scary mood swings and migraines), I decided it was time to try a copper IUD.
A quick chat with a sex health specialist, and it turns out these funny T-bars are ingenious. The little plastic T is wrapped in copper, and when inserted into the uterus, the copper creates a completely hostile environment for sperm. Cool.
I book an appointment and forget about it, until the day arrives. I’m sitting in the doctor’s chair relaxed and dapper, and even comment how nice the doc’s shoes are (shiny black brogues).
“Thanks.” She says with a smile, “Now I expect you’ve heard the horror stories, but it’s not that bad.”
I freeze. Horror stories? I’d heard barely anything at all and done no research, and suddenly my ignorance felt rather less than blissful.
“It’s going to feel like a really bad period cramp. First I’ll see how your cervix is shaped – everyone is different – then measure you, then adjust the IUD to fit. Sounds good?”
Not really, in fact, none of that sounded remotely good, but I nod, unsure of what I’ve got myself into.
“Now, Lie back, deep breaths, this might hurt.”
Holy Mary mother of PAIN did it. Have you ever had your underarm skin pinched hard – like really hard? It hurts like fuck because it’s a sensitive pressure point. Well, that’s what it was like, but instead of your arm skin, it’s your womb skin, and you can’t punch the person responsible in the face.
I force myself to breathe calmly, trying to remember how I’m saving my children’s future by ensuring they don’t have one. Another painful pinch.
“I’ll just try another angle…”
“Oooff.” I cry, wanting to throttle the woman with my thighs.
“Oooff.” The doctor merrily repeats. “I know that hurts, we’re almost done. Right. Yup, she’s in.”
I feel like weeping. Within half an hour, I’m back at work where I google IUD’s and get distracted by the dedicated forums – one woman described getting an IUD like ‘someone sticking a taser up my vagina and going to town.’ It was nice to know I wasn’t alone.
For up to 24 hours, you can experience mild to severe cramps, just like a bad period. I couldn’t handle the pain and left my desk an hour later. It was like my ovaries were punching each other to win the heavy weight boxing title and only tea, chocolate and a hot water bottle could stop the fight.
Back at home, I wondered about this little copper-wrapped anchor in my body. What if the copper somehow leaked into my body? What if I get hit my lightening – doesn’t copper conduct electricity? What if both scenarios combine and I become some copper-wombed superwoman, whose powers of electric magnetic force fields enable her to master telekinesis and the art of flying?
Despite the pain, I couldn’t help but laugh aloud at the image of Super Copper Woman, flying in a bronze cape, her arms wrapped entirely in a copper coil that shoots out and ensnares the ankles of her enemies. Forget spider bites or bat-loving billionaires, I’d be the first superhero to battle crime and promote safe sex simultaneously.
I’m pretty sure that’s just the kind of superhero the world needs.
If you’re thinking about getting an IUD as contraceptive – have a chat with a sex health expert first to see if it’s right for you. And don’t forget – always use condoms to be protected against STIs. Stay safe people!