SD shares about her experience trying a copper IUD and experiencing severe pain and heavy periods. She discusses switching to a natural family planning method after getting the IUD removed.
SD: I decided to test out an IUD. So, I transitioned to using the copper IUD and my decision around the copper IUD was that was non-hormonal. When I went to the doctor, I had this very, very old, I think he was honestly in his 70s, OBGYN [pause] out in California. I went to him, and he kind of explained to me, he didn’t like, try to convince me, but he did sort of strongly push the positives of doing a hormonal IUD instead of the copper one, but I insisted on having a copper one because I had known other women in my life that use that method, and I said “Okay it doesn’t have hormones, it stays in me for a long time, I know I don’t want to get pregnant for a while,” so I got that method of birth control.
I was twenty at the time, and I used that for around four years, the first two years I had, oh my goodness, terrible, terrible, terrible, periods. I was bleeding easily three times as much as I had previously, um, I was going through extreme pain almost like contraction-like pain in my body, and I said “Okay well, this is kind of the price I have to pay in order to like not get pregnant, and to feel free in my intimate relationships and to have conversations that like— with my partners that kind of brought us closer.” And all the men that I had been with again luckily were really supportive of it and I used that for again for two years, well, and then I would say in my third year I started to have a terrible, terrible, experience with the IUD.
I started to have like excruciating pain. I went to the doctor multiple times for pelvic pain and they always just kind of cleared me and said, well, it looks good everything looks in place, there isn’t a problem. And I remember things got really, really, bad and I, I, um one time was like laying in bed, and I sneezed, and I jolted up in pain and I screamed out loud and I was like something is wrong. I could barely get out of bed, and I was like dragging myself to the door, I went to another doctor and again they turned around, and would say, “Savannah look, like everything is checking out, nothing’s really wrong with you” and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
I said “Okay well I don’t know what I’m going to do,” so um, I was talking to, it was actually one of my ex-boyfriends mothers, and I came to her, and I was like “Listen, like I don’t know what’s going on, I am starting to get yeast infections, um I’m like having a really, really tough time,” and so, she is like an herbalist really, so she was making me teas and that, kind of supporting my supplementation. I had never been prescribed a, like a pill to support the yeast infection I had. I went to one doctor, and he didn’t even look at me, he just said “Okay, you probably have a yeast infection, you can get something over the counter.” So he did not, like you know, I got billed for the visit, but like never took my pants off, never anything at all and we’re in New York City right so it’s like it’s just insane, but the point is, I, when I came to her, she said, “You know Savannah you might consider taking out the IUD, it could be, your body could be rejecting it,” and I said, “Yeah you’re right,” you know, but it like that thought hadn’t really crossed my mind, because it was just like so essential to my not getting pregnant and to like my, you know me successfully completing my college education and my master’s degree that I was really committed to. So I said okay, well when I was done with all that I said, “All right I’m gonna try and take this thing out.”
I went to the doctor and I went to actually a Planned Parenthood, and they did not discourage me from taking it out necessarily but, they just were very adamant about prescribing me an alternative. So they said “Okay, if you’re getting this out, then what are you going to do in turn?” Right, and so I told them that I was going to try like natural family planning, so basically doing like fertility awareness method, and you know recording my basal body temperature, paying attention to my cervical mucus, taking LH strips, and making sure that I can pinpoint my ovulation day, and then basically just abstaining in the weeks that we consider red days, and then being sexually active and using withdrawal method on what is called my green days or the days that I’m safer.
Again, not something I’ve ever learned in school or from a parent, it was something that I kind of like out of desperation googled and then I have like a whole set of books that, again, I picked up or were gifts to me and like luckily had like a family that at least around my like health, not necessarily around the sex aspects of it, were really supportive. So, I finally went to the doctor and I got it taken out.
When I got it taken out, I was in so much pain and the doctor said “Oh yeah it was definitely lodged in there,” and when she finally got it out, she confirmed that I had a pretty severe yeast infection and bacterial vaginosis infection and I was like, it was the first time that— was the first time in my life I had ever gotten that, I transparently, have never had an STD before. I’m very fortunate to not have had one right, because I know plenty of people who’ve gotten them and it’s whatever, but the point is that I, again, was just like shocked, I was like, “Okay, I don’t know what to do.” My body, my vagina has never acted this strangely, what am I going to do, I felt horrible, I was exhausted and I decided okay I’m going to take myself to an acupuncturist and the acupuncturist helped me tremendously.
Um I was able to change my nutrition and my diet as well, through conversations with her and that really supported me overcoming the infections I had, and then I, in the first couple of months after getting the IUD out, my period re-regulated and I’ve sort of been on that same cycle.