I’ve had Paragard for probably about four years now. This is *my* experience, but I absolutely *love* it and would not ever go back to hormonal birth control in a million years unless I absolutely had to.
1) How long does it take to put in? I heard someone say getting it inserted was “a little intense.” What does that mean? Am I going to be in pain while the’yre doing it or the next day or something?
My entire appointment was about half an hour. First they had to measure my uterus- I haven’t had kids, and apparently my uterus was just barely big enough to get the IUD. That was uncomfortable, but not painful. Insertion itself took maybe 3 minutes total. Not gonna lie, it sucked. It felt like really bad cramps. Deep breathing helps. But it’s over so fast, it might not even be 3 minutes. I was period-crampy for the next couple days, but nothing a Tylenol couldn’t handle.
2) How long after it’s in does it start “working?”
3) Just how reliable is this thing? Fiance and I have been using condoms/spermicide and I heard the IUD is comparable. I guess I’m just nervous b/c I don’t know how much I trust this thing yet (it took me forever to trust condoms). The websites say over 99% effective but I’m paranoid!
I got my IUD three months before I met Fiance (they tell you not to get it unless you’re in a serious relationship, because your chances of infection are higher. I made the appointment six months before, when I was still with my ex, which was long-term. We broke up in the meantime but I kept the appointment because I lost my insurance and couldn’t afford my pill anymore. Before Fiance and I slept together, I made us both get tested. We used condoms for the first six months or so anyway, but then it just got annoying and we forgot them when we traveled or whatever. So we gave up on them.
Since then, our only birth control has been my IUD. He doesn’t pull out, we don’t take any other measures, and I only had one scare in the last three years (which was actually a raging ovarian cyst that mucked up my cycle, it had precisely zero to do with birth control). That’s fewer scares than I had on the pill/condom combination with my ex. It’s more reliable, IMO, because it’s always there. You don’t need to take it, put it on, put it in, remember it, or think about it. You don’t need a prescription, you don’t need to go to the doctor after the follow up appointment (a few weeks after insertion). There is nothing standing between you and your birth control, it’s just there.
4) Does anyone have any side effects? I hear they’re pretty uncommon, and limited to things like heavier periods and cramps. My periods are pretty light and cramps aren’t terrible so …
I have endometriosis, which causes terrible cramps. I also have always had heavy periods. Yes, my cramps are still bad, and yes, my periods are still heavy. I haven’t noticed a real increase in how bad either are. If you’re light to begin with though, you’ll probably notice they get a little more severe.
There is the potential for some serious problems. It can increase your risk of infection (PID, that sort of thing). There’s also the very slim chance that it could rupture your uterus, which would require surgery to fix and could kill your fertility. That happened more in the 70’s with the first IUD’s, now it’s extremely rare, but you need to be aware of the possibility (it’s kind of the same possibility as the pill causing a stroke). It also does increase your risk of ectopic pregnancy, so if you miss a period on it you need to be on top of that situation- when I had my cyst, the doctor ordered immediately tests because of the chance of the ectopic pregnancy.
Really, the side effects are no worse or better than any other birth control, and are entirely person-dependent. I encourage people to at least seriously explore the option, because for me it really was no small miracle- the hormones in the pills were making me crazy (suicidal, depressive), and they freaked out my body- weight gain, skin problems, the whole nine. Once it comes out, I can get pregnant immediately, then get one immediately reinserted after the baby comes, which is 100% what I intend to do. It lets us be spontaenous, which we really value.