First off, let’s make this clear: I don’t want a debate over premarital sex, or natural vs other forms of birth control. This post is not about morality or religious views, nor is it about whether or not I should start having children because of my age. Second, I’m not a doctor so the rest of this post will be based heavily on personal experience.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about Intra-Uterine Devices or IUDs.
I am in my late 20’s, in a monogamous relationship with a wonderful person, but we both agreed that we have no immediate plans for marriage and children. Because priorities. With some research, a lot of questions answered by doctor friends and a bit of a medical background (I have a Nursing degree), I made the choice to get an IUD last April.
IUDs have been around for years and years, but in this very conservative country that I live in, it’s a little talked about birth control option. In my experience, it’s not something that you can ask from just any OB-GYN, especially in Pro-Life / anti-RH institutions. I could be wrong of course, but it took me a bit of research to find an OB GYN that offers IUDs without prejudice against my background of being unmarried and childless. Believe me when I say that I’ve had my fair share of judgy looks for actively and directly seeking birth control.
There is no scarcity of knowledge about this birth control option, since a lot of information is readily available on the internet, but there are just not a lot of personal experience from fellow Filipinas. I for one think real, personal experiences from peers is a huge help in deciding on major decisions such as this one. I actually got a gynecologist recommendation from a blogger too!
So here I am, writing about mine, just in case someone like me out there is considering getting one too.
What is it? How does it work?
Do your Googling, but I think you can already glean from the name that it’s a tiny device that is meant to be inserted in the uterus.
All IUDs affect the way sperm move to prevent the sperm from fertilizing an egg. IUDs also change the lining of the uterus, which is thought to prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus.
Read more about it here.
I’m not going to go into detail about the process of getting one, but my inspiration Childfree Filipina has a wonderfully detailed blow-by-blow. Click here to read about her IUD insertion experience, which is almost identical to mine since we have the same gyno.
You wanna insert THAT in your uterus?? WHY?
As with a lot of things, it’s a personal choice. Why not condoms? Why not birth control pills? Why not natural birth control methods? These options are non-invasive and readily available even without help from a Gyno!
Okay first of all, I advise against taking any sort of medication without checking with your doctor first, oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) included. There are so many different brands and types of OCPs out there, all of which have associated risks and side effects. I highly recommend working with your gyno in finding the right one for you.
Personally I don’t really fancy the mood swings and weight-gain/bloating side effects associated with OCPs. It’s a mababaw reason but there you go.
Condoms, on the other hand…well. Let’s just say I’m not overly fond of them now that I’m in a monogamous relationship. I think a lot of men and women would share the same sentiment.
Apart from that, here are my favorite things about the IUD:
- It’s incredibly low-maintenance
It’s kind of a lazy girl’s choice, to be honest. Once it’s in there, you won’t really have to think about it for the next 5 years (for hormonal IUDs) and 10 years (for copper IUDs). You won’t have to worry about running out of rubbers in the worst possible times. You won’t have to remember to take a pill daily, or replace your patch, or think about when you should get your next injectable. You won’t have to keep checking your lady calendar or take your temperature and monitor your lady fluids on a daily basis to see if it’s ‘safe’ for you to ‘get busy’.
On the next period after insertion, you’d need to visit your gyno just to make sure it’s still in place. It’s advisable to have it checked by the gyno at least once a year thereafter, which isn’t really that bad since you’re supposed to get a Pap smear once a year too anyway. You can DIY the checking bit yourself, here’s how.
Once you decide that you’re ready for baby making, just schedule another visit to have it removed then you can proceed with the procreation.
- It’s crazy cost effective.
Think about it. Condoms cost around Php 540 for a 2 boxes of 12 (Durex pricing on Lazada, if anyone’s wondering). Say you consume the 24 in one month, Php 6,528 a year. OCPs on the other hand cost about Php 400-500 a pack, which amounts to Php 4,800-6,000 a year. Sure there are cheaper options brands but I tend to choose the highly recommended ones by doctors and peers which unfortunately also cost more.
I got my copper IUD fitted for around Php 2,500, and, barring complications, I’m good for 10 years. Now do the math. One could argue that natural methods are absolutely FREE of charge but…well. See reason #1.
- Success rate
From the studies I read through, IUDs have a success rate at around 99%. Not perfect, but higher than the other birth control options. And also because of reason #1, there’s just less chances of human error (like you forgetting to use a rubber or pop your pill).
HOLD UP: so you’re saying IUDs have NO side effects / risks??
Of course not. The most commonly known risks are perforation (meaning it may pierce through your uterus) or expulsion (your uterus pushes it out). Yeah I know that sounds like it’s from some horrible gore movie.
My OB-GYN said that perforation commonly happens during the insertion part. With an experienced gyno, the risk is very low. Mine was inserted with the aid of an ultrasound, which helped le doctor better visualize what he was doing inside my lady parts. It’s extremely important to make sure that your gyno has enough experience fitting IUDs if you decide to get one from him/her.
As for expulsion, this is the reason why it is recommended for you to visit your gyno for another ultrasound after the first period you have post-IUD insertion.
Common side effects (for copper IUDs at least) are heavier periods, more painful period cramping and possible inter-cycle spotting. Sounds awful, yeah? To me, however, all of these don’t sound any less awful than the risks associated with other methods. It’s just a lot less fiddly.
Should you experience any adverse side effects, better check with your doctor.
So what are the downsides?
I’m currently on my fifth month with it and the only major downside I can think of is that my period cramps are legit worse after the IUD. It’s not the debilitating kind of pain though, since I can still manage the 1.5 hour commute to and from work as well as the work day itself without being totally useless, but then again my pain tolerance is pretty high.
Oh and also, there is always one day per cycle where my bleeding is extremely heavy.
Other than these, the IUD hasn’t given me any reason to regret it.
So there you have it! My personal experience in getting and living with an IUD. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or check out these nifty links:
- Great Reads on Getting an IUD
- Getting an IUD
- Wanna know what it really feels like to get an IUD?
- Everything you need to know about getting an IUD