To IUD, to not IUD. That is the question.

Men who subscribe to my feed? You might want to back away slowly from this post. It's lady talk time. Hi/bye Papa!

Since I had the revelation that just because I don't want my tubes tied it doesn't mean I have to have more babies, I have been researching birth control. It almost makes me want to just keep getting pregnant so I don't have to deal with it (almost). There are so many opinions and so many options out there that it's hard to know where to begin.

This is why you always begin with your doctor. Dur. Which is exactly what I did. When I told him that I officially did not want my tubes tied, but I was interested in what options were available out there in terms of long-term, non-hormonal, reversible birth control, his immediate response was the copper IUD (or ParaGuard).

To give you a little background: birth control pills are not for me. I have tried the NuvaRing and I have tried several varieties of traditional pills, and both succeeded in making me a raging hormonal nightmare. I had weird side effects like extra sweaty hands, feet, and armpits, not to mention I was prone to epic emotional meltdowns for no apparent reason just three days before my expected period EVERY SINGLE MONTH! I was a delight on the pill, let me tell you. So, with my husband's support and encouragement I quit the pill several years before we began talking about trying to have kids. We became an, er, barrier method couple. Which worked out fine. I didn't get pregnant until I was trying to, and there was never a failure birth control-wise. It wasn't until later that when I actually looked into hormonal birth control and I realized that I actually had some major moral objections to birth control in this form (if you must know, I take issue with the notion that it does not prevent conception, only implantation). So! It only confirmed our decision. Moving on.

Now that I am an older lady, looking onward to twenty-ish more years of fertility that I fully intend to waste with my particularly virile partner (dudes, we've been pregnant 5 times … that I know of), the idea of a copper IUD appeals to me in theory. No fuss! Reversible! Set it and forget it! I am told that the side effects of a copper IUD are minor and include heavier bleeding during periods, which doesn't bother me as I don't have issues with this, but I want to know more than what the internet and my doctor can tell me. Ladies? Are you out there?! Have you tried a copper IUD/ParaGuard? Does it, er, poke your partner? Did you get pregnant whilst using one? What is your experience and/or opinion? If you want to email me or comment here, either is welcome, as is any and all information you can pass on. I have read about some rough side effects with Mirena. I am planning to pick up race training as soon as I can after this baby is born (the first race tentatively on the docket is the LA Marathon in March … we shall see about that big, hairy goal), and if any of you athlete mamas out there have anything to add that would be super helpful.

So. What your experience with IUDs? Yea or nay?

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10 thoughts on “To IUD, to not IUD. That is the question.

  1. tehamy says:

    I have had a Mirena since my youngest was about 6 months old. I know the side effects are different so I’ll just share my general observations about having an IUD. The first six weeks were a little rough. I had cramping off and on and I basically wound up with a 4 week period. It was really light so it was mostly just annoying. My doctor said my body was adjusting. The bleeding/cramping stopped and I haven’t had any issues.

    My husband has never complained about poking. My doctor did tell me that if my husband complained, just call and the would shorten the strings.

    I am a runner. I run about 30 miles a week and I have never had an issue with my IUD from running.

    Other than those first couple weeks, I really have no complaints about my IUD. 2+ years later, I’m still very happy with it. I like not having to take the pill every day or even really think about birth control (I think about it once a month when I make sure that I can still feel the strings). I really have no issues with it and would recommend that most people consider one of the IUD options. Good luck with your decision!

  2. caroline lee says:

    Mirena was the WORST!!!!!! idea ever! I had it in for maybe 2 months and went literally to major anxiety issues quickly and to ok a year to get back to normal!!!

    Vasectomy is going to be in our future! Hormones and I don’t mix.

  3. Jen says:

    Former Mirena user here, so sorry no copper IUD advice, but my hubby could feel the strings. It annoyed him. They shortened them, and he could still feel them. I would say he’s of normal average size, but no means really well-endowed.
    I had other issues with my Mirena though and did get it removed.

  4. Ashley says:

    Hey there! I have ParaGuard and I love it! I’ve had it for about 8 months now and I’m really happy I chose it over Mirena. The hubby never feels a thing and I often forget it’s even there. Putting it in was pretty painful for me, but then again, I’ve never had children so I’m sure for those who have, it’s NO WHERE even close to the pains of childbirth. It’s a weird pinching as they put it in (5ish minute process) in an area I was not used to feeling pinched haha Right after insertion, I had some massive cramps but went home and was fine the rest of the day. My cramps are still a little worse than usual and the bleeding is heavier, but my periods are shorter. I’m REALLY happy with it because I definitely did NOT want any extra hormones in my system, nor did I need any. I’m all good with what I’ve got lol I vote YES!!

  5. Jesabes says:

    Looooooove my ParaGuard. LOVE. The bleeding was really, really heavy for the first three or four periods. I’m prone to heavy bleeding anyway, though. But by six months everything had evened out and I had zero side effects. No cramps, normal heaviness.

    I don’t remember feeling the insertion at all. Maybe a little pinch? All I remember is I was very surprised when it was over because they warned me it might hurt and I hadn’t felt that yet.

    The strings were never a problem (or even noticed).

    I’m also a no-go with hormonal birth control (didn’t even want to try Mirena), so I am really happy the ParaGuard works so well for me.

  6. regan says:

    I’m on my second Mirena and I love it. I had one before having kids and the instillation process was awful. A nurse even came into my room and asked me to stop crying out in pain because I was worrying other patients. I had it removed before having kids (obviously) and the removal was pain free. I waited until after having Pippa to get another Mirena (you have to wait 8 weeks post birth to get either I believe) and that time was a breeze. The doc said “Okay, we’re good.” and I thought she meant “good to start insertion” but she meant good as in done. I hadn’t felt a thing.

    Both times I had cramps for about the first 4 to 7 days of having the IUD but they went away quickly. My period is pretty regular as far as when it’s coming with a very heavy month about every fourth month.

    Jparks has never been poked by the strings but my doc always says to call if he feels them. If it’s in the beginning then the strings are too long, if it happens farther down the road, that could mean it shifted and needs to be examined.

    I know I’m in the minority but I really do love the Mirena and will have it replaced when it expires. I run, do barre classes, and cross fit with it and have never had issues.

  7. Sensibly Sassy says:

    I’ve had both the copper iud and the mirena (currently have it). I really prefer the iud to the pill-I was an outright monster on the pill! So I switched to the copper iud. I really liked it but the lack if any hormones made my pre-existing ovarian cysts enlarge-ouch!
    Like I said, I was terrified of hormones but the cysts were too painful so my doctor recommended mirena. She said it was a happy in between of the pill and the copper iud because it only has progesterone and not estrogen. Apparently, estrogen was the culprit for my insane mood swings. So I’ve had the mirena in for 7 months now. The first two months or so were emotionally ROUGH-I was scared that I was going back to that scary lady I was on the pill but my doc assured me my body was just adjusting.
    Sure enough, my body has adjusted and I feel like my happy self again! I run, do yoga, and am pretty active and it hasn’t been a problem with that stuff.
    Hope this helps!

  8. Fellow WVHS runner says:

    I also had bad side side effects from birth control, so went barrier method, then decided to simplify and had Paraguard put in Dec 2012. Insertion was not pleasant, but not agonizing. I haven’t had any children, and I think after 3, you will be fine. My experience so far is good! One day a month I have pretty significant cramps – worse than without the IUD. My periods tend to be longer, but not heavier – just more days of spotting. My doctor said that most women who experience heavier bleeding have gone from birth control pills to the IUD, so they are experiencing their normal, non-hormonally influenced flow, which is heavier. Going from barrier to IUD, you shouldn’t see much of a difference. I still have the occasional few days of break-through bleeding, but that is less now that I’m 5 months in. On the plus side, I’m actually more consistent as to when my periods start, which is nice. All in all, I’ll take one day of cramping and a few more days of spotting for no hormones and not having to think about it!

    I run regularly and do boot camp style exercises without a problem. No complaints from hubby about being poked, though he and I can still clearly feel the strings (with, um, fingers). They say they are supposed to “curl up” and “fuse” to the sides, but so far they haven’t. Eh, it’s a but strange at first, but you get used to it. I’ve wondered about whether they just need to be trimmed, as they never were after the IUD was first inserted, despite that being the plan.

    So far it was a fantastic decision for me. Good luck with Baby 3 and your decision! I enjoy your blog!

  9. Lacey says:

    Had Paragard and loved it. Heavier periods for the first few months, but leveled our thereafter and had no bad side effects to name. Insertion was a breeze, but my doctor had me take a Cytotec (I believe) prior to the appointment to open up the cervix a bit and I’ve heard friends say their doctor didn’t do that.

  10. Erin says:

    Oh, I just typed a virtual novel about this and even included a funny story and it disappeared when I hit post. Aargh

    Feel free to email with questions. Short version, hormone free was mandatory for me, love the Paragard, had it for 3 years now. Insertion SUCKED for 30 seconds, totally worth it.

    And the lived happily ever after….. The end. Lol

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