Thursday, May 30, 2013

It's Understandably Disturbing

This will be disgusting if you are squeamish. Or very, very private. Or, probably, male. Feel free to stop here. I'm not holding back on this one.

Are you sure you want to go on?

Okay, we're diving into the deep end on this one.

For years and years and years I was on The Pill. I liked being on The Pill. Short periods, no babies, minimal PMS. ("Minimal" being a relative term.) Last year, because I'm "old" and have high cholesterol and my gynecologist hates me, I was taken off of The Pill. She suggested an IUD. I considered suggesting she mind her own damn business and I wasn't paying her to take meds away from me.

Fast forward a year. I've gained 10 pounds, I have monster PMS, and every month I'm a walking crime scene. Not to mention the regular T-Rex vs. King Kong battles in my uterus. Ladies, some of you wish you didn't know what I'm talking about but you do. I whine to my doctor, hoping she'll put me back on my Beloved Pill. Nope. "You should really consider an IUD. Here is some information on Merena." Seriously? You should consider fucking off.

But the cramps got worse and I started to wonder if Aunt Flo shouldn't be renamed Aunt Niagara Falls. So a few months later I gave in. After calling my insurance company that I don't have to pay to have a foreign object inserted into my body. I also did my research on the internets. Pluses/minuses, pros/cons. Pro? I never want to give birth to another teenager again in my entire life so I'm okay with long-term birth control. Con? The foreign object in my body. Plus? It's possible I could stop having a period entirely. Minus? Foreign object in my body. Fine, let's do this. I made the appointment.

And now we come to the educational portion of this post. I am going to tell you what I learned that I shouldn't have and what I experienced that no "informative" online searches will tell you.

Do not look up videos online of IUD placement. Don't do this. You know, guys are lucky. Their junk is just out there all day long. "Oh look, there's my penis." "I'll stop and look at my penis while I'm getting dressed." "Time to pee. Why hello there, penis friend!" They're rather fond of waving those things around. I know that I have a vagina. We are intimately acquainted. I know when she's happy and when she's not. But I am not overly familiar with what she looks like, so I always feel a bit jarred when confronted with a full-on vagina. And, even though I've been told that mine is quite attractive, I always think it looks weird. This is what you will see in these videos. You will see soft, vulnerable flesh manipulated with a speculum while a small tube disappears inside. It's a bit unnerving. Just skip this part.

Also skip any videos that tell you about personal experiences. You don't need to know about That One Girl who had the worst placement experience ever and just insisted on sharing it with the internets. These women mean well, but they should just write that shit in their diaries and move on.

Do learn all that you can from reliable medical sources. All birth control is not created equally and neither are women's bodies. What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa. You want to make an educated, informed decision about your reproductive rights. Do talk to your friends. My friends assured me that the IUD is great and lovable and that it works for them.

Now, say you decide to go ahead. If you would like to know about the actual placement experience, let's continue. Because the freaky things that happen, you won't find in any so-called helpful research.

The advice I got from the nurse was to take ibuprofen an hour before my appointment. Done. The general advice I saw online was to have someone drive you home afterward. I didn't think that would be necessary, but I did have a back-up plan just in case.

The whole procedure is like a PAP Smear Supreme. Same stirrups, same speculum, same lying-down-staring-at-whatever-lame-object-is-hung-from-the-ceiling. In my case it was a dragonfly. I would like to suggest to the gynecological offices worldwide that you offer something comforting at these times. A puppy would be really excellent in helping to take our minds off of what is going on down there, but then everyone in the room would be distracted by the cuteness and bad things could happen. I really like those warm, freshly-warm-out-of-the-dryer blankets you get in hospitals. Even a teddy bear would be appreciated. Something.

Moving on.

This is like an extended PAP. There's some extra scraping. (In my case, this was probably clean-up because my doctor prefers to do this while you're on your period. Like in the middle of it. Something about the cervix being softer and making the procedure easier.) There's a numbing process and this is where is starts to get bizarre. "You may get a weird taste in your mouth and your mouth will go numb." Um, okay. What? And just as I was saying how very odd that sounded, there went my tongue. Numbness. It didn't stop there. There was some more scraping or pressure or whatever was going on. Some handoffs between doctor and nurse, some conversation between the two of them. And then, "You might feel like someone is squeezing your tonsils." This was during the actual insertion part. What? How on earth are my mouth and throat connected to my uterus? Oh no!! I can't swallow! My throat is paralyzed!! It won't move! What on earth is going on here?? I'm going to die!!!!! Oh, okay, wait, that's better. My throat is working again. That was some weird shit.

Remember how my vagina is allegedly attractive? Well, it turns out that my cervix and uterus are textbook. The whole thing went exactly as it was supposed to. Yay. Bragging rights. I have textbook reproductive organs. Right on.

I thought it was over, but there was one more step. The ultrasound. To make sure the tiny little piece of plastic went in just the right place. This entails the use of something that looks like an extra extra extra long dildo, complete with condom cover. At that point I just wanted to be done. I didn't want anymore intrusions into my at-this-point sensitive lady parts. I only looked at the picture on the screen to appease her and get it over with. Perfect placement. "You're good for five years. Have a nice day."

I was told that I would have cramping afterward, but by that point I'd already been cramping for days so it wasn't a big deal. I didn't need the ride home, but I did stop to get a milkshake on my way back to the office. Hey, I'd earned it. I left work an hour early and spent the evening on the couch, but it really wasn't worse than the worst cramps that I have. I had a little nausea so I decided against going to zumba. No need to act like a superhero. It's now been 24+ hours and I'm still cramping, but I'm also still having my period.

Overall, it wasn't all that bad. Few things are ever as bad as expected, but I thought you should know about those little surprises that nobody else mentioned. Throat-tightness and the inability to swallow might be a trigger for those with anxiety. I could have really freaked out over that, but it lasted less than 30 seconds.

However, if you want to milk it, it's completely fair to say that you don't want to cook or do dishes. Cramps are stupid and it's perfectly acceptable to spend an evening on the couch eating ice cream.


Not Everyone Can Be A Mermaid said...

Thanks for this post! I've been considering IUD and while I'm not currently having sex, the time might come when I do have a significant other and this will be an option. Taking a pill everyday is just a pain in the ass, but I do love the benefits.

Kat said...

I'm highly motivated to never experience a monthly period. Sex or no sex, that was the big draw for me!

Anonymous said...

............... I may sleep tonight...... but I doubt it. I'm glad I'm a man (until other men open their mouths, then I usually facepalm myself).

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