Quinn's Chats: Getting an IUS

I feel like discussing contraception can sometimes be frowned upon.

Prior to having the IUS fitted, I had never been on any form of contraception except using condoms.

Reason number one being is prior to this year I felt like I had no need for any contraception bar condoms before this moment. I was lucky to not suffer from acne prone skin during my teens and although I did suffer from very painful periods, I was prescribed painkillers from the doctor to combat this. Reason two is due to a potential underlying health issue which meant that the oestrogen pill was not even a consideration. 

It was only this year, when I was in a relationship alongside the pain during my period becoming borderline excruciating, to the point where I was bed ridden for four days a month, that I decided to see what my options were.

So, what is the IUS? The IUS (Intrauterine System) is otherwise known as the Hormone or the Mirena Coil, is a small t-shaped device that is fitted into the womb and releases the hormone progesterone. This causes a mucus build up from the cervix which prevents sperm from reaching the egg, it thins the womb lining and can prevent ovulation in women.

So, why did I get it? Well, after crossing out any oestrogen options, I was left with a few options of what I could get; The 'mini' pill, the IUD, the implant and the contraceptive injection.

I chose not to opt for the other contraception options for the following reasons;
1) I really could not be bothered with the hassle of remembering to take a pill at the same time every day.
2) The IUD can have an adverse effect on your periods and make them heavier, longer and more painful (I already have this problem, I really do not need it made worse).
3) Most of the people I know who had the implant fitted have had it taken out due to negative side effects.
4) The contraceptive injection just did not appeal to me, I really hate injections.

The IUS seemed to tick all the boxes for me. Firstly, it is progesterone which means to risks to my personal health. Secondly, it lasts five years, which means no worrying about pills etc. Thirdly, it is meant to help ease periods which was the huge selling point to me and fourthly, my mother was one of the first people to try it out and she had it fitted three times, with no problems.

So at the beginning of June, I booked an appointment and off I went to get it fitted.

So, how is the IUS fitted?

The procedure is meant to take about half an hour in total. Prior to your fitting, you are advised to take painkillers, I took ibuprofen and paracetamol. Make sure you have a good amount of to eat before hand, take someone with you, I had my wonderful friend with me and try and remain calm (easier said than done!) Following the fitting, you are not allowed to have sexual intercourse for a week after, this is to prevent infection and believe me, you don't really want to either.

So, you're then whisked off into an office where your blood pressure is taken and then you're asked to strip from the waist down and pop yourself onto the bed. Don't worry, you're covered with a sheet, so there is a slight bit of dignity!

Warning: If you're a little bit squeamish, you may want to skip this bit.

After being told to lie down the doctor/nurse will examine the womb area to determine size and position of your cervix.

The area is then cleaned and using a speculum, the vagina is held open. Having this pushed in is not a great experience, its cold and feeling it wind open is not great. This was not painful however, so by this stage, I was thinking this was going to be easy. Following this, you are then swabbed for any signs of infection or STI's.

They then inject an anaesthetic jelly into the cervix, which honestly, was not a pleasant experience. It felt cold and like someone had just taken a swift kick to your uterus... not a good sign.

They then fitted the IUS, which according to my doctor, "went in like a breeze" and that I, "have a fantastic cervix." Well... jolly good. By this point however, I was in a fair amount of pain, it was like having very severe cramps.

They took my blood pressure, which was a little on the low I started feeling a little light headed, so I was advised to lie down and wait. Ten minutes pass and the doctor steps out of the room for a moment, it is this exact moment when I am feeling very nauseous, faint and in a lot of pain.

The doctor walked back into the room, took one look at me and was like, "You do not look well at all." At this point, I nearly fainted I think, then all hell broke loose. Suddenly I am surrounded by about five nurses, the bed is tipped back, there is a fan on me, a blood pressure monitor attached to my arm and there are old compresses being applied to me. My blood pressure had apparently plummeted, due to shock or the pain, whatever the reason, my body went into full scale overdramatic panic.

I was then sick (pretty violently) and I'm nearly passing out. The pain is absolutely severe at this point and I'm being told that they can take it out. I kind of remember responding like, "After all of this, I think we'll just leave it in."

They then fetched my friend from the waiting room, who walked in and looked at me like, "Oh good lord." So, here we all are; me, my friend, the doctor and a nurse. I'm curled up in the foetal position on the bed, sheet over me, with a fan on me.

Following this for another five minutes, I started to feel a little better. So I got dressed and was moved to another room, where my friend and I were given tea and biscuits. Which definitely helped, as well as being chatted to by my friend. By the time I was fit enough to leave, I had been in the doctors for an hour and a half.

Squeamish bit over.

My friend was advised to stay with me for the evening, which she did and we had a lovely chilled evening.

So after the dramatic fitting process, how has the IUS been fairing?

Well, aside from being very tender for about four days, there has been no pain with it. My breasts were getting very sensitive, but this seems to have eased off. In my first month, I was getting a lot of spotting, which let me tell you was not very pleasant, but by the beginning of July this had stopped.

I was absolutely starving for the first month. Like seriously, I wanted to eat just about everything in the fridge, the contents of the cupboards and then order a large pizza. Safe to say this resulted in a bit of weight gain, but the constant hunger has subsided, thank God.

One thing which was definitely noticeable was my mood. I was a bit all over the place with my hormones and anything would set me off in anger or would make me cry. So, many, many apologies to my friends who had to put up with this. Again, this seems to have calmed down after the first month.

I've had two periods since. The first one, I had nothing really, no pain, nothing, which as you can imagine, I was confused about, surely it can't work that quickly. Perhaps this was due to the introduction of the hormone but when period number two came around, it was like being back to normal. However, it has been like a lesser version of my periods before; there's still pain and discomfort but it is definitely a lot better than what I was dealing with before.

I'm still in the early days but I've got high hopes, especially after how it was fitted! I'll be doing a follow up post around the sixth month mark, to discuss if it has indeed made a big impact on my life.

If you want to read up more about the IUS, you can find more information here.

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