Gina Florio
February 25, 2016 3:07 pm
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When I was 20 years old, I was hospitalized due to a pulmonary embolism. I was using the NuvaRing as my form of birth control, and as a result, I developed blood clots in my lungs. Luckily, the doctors caught them before they traveled to my heart or brain, which could have caused a heart attack or stroke.

After my recovery — and after I spent lots of time feeling outrageously grateful for even being alive — my OBGYN told me I would never be able to take a hormonal form of birth control again. The pill was out of the question, as were methods such as the Depo-Provera shot. An intrauterine device (IUD) was my best bet.

My doctor told me I could choose the hormonal IUD, the Mirena, if I wanted to. But the very low level of progesterone still posed a slight risk for me. Knowing that a second pulmonary embolism would be much more deadly than the first, I opted in for the non-hormonal, copper IUD — the Paragard.

The insertion process is a story that deserves its own stage, so I won’t go into it here. (Spoiler alert: It was the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.) What I’m here to tell you is that I had the thing in my uterus for over a year and a half — and it was an awful period of my life. In no way am I telling you that the Paragard is a bad choice for you. IUDs affect each person differently, and I’ve heard of some women living their lives just fine with this form of birth control. However, it definitely wasn’t for me.

Here are six reasons I gave up on the Paragard IUD.

1. My flow was unbearably heavy 

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Oh, if I could count all the pairs of underwear I’ve ruined, as well as bed sheets and pajama pants. No menstrual cup, tampon, pad, or combination of them all, could hold in my heavy flow, and it was pretty much ruining my life. I lived in constant fear that I was going to bleed onto something and embarrass myself. Yeah, it got to be a problem.

2. I had severely painful cramps every month 

Before my IUD days I never suffered from serious menstrual cramps. The first day of my period was tough back in the day, but not even close to what the Paragard hit me with. I’m talking cramps so painful that I couldn’t walk around normally. I even started to experience cramps specifically located in my uterus — you know, where the IUD was actually located. It wasn’t a pleasant sensation.

I spent so much money on Advil and Midol, and even the strongest dose I was allowed to take only helped so much. Doctors say that this kind of cramping should subside after you’ve had the Paragard for a few months, so I waited it out. I waited three months, then six. I waited a year. After eighteen months, I knew it wasn’t going to get any better.

3. I couldn’t go about my day-to-day life normally 

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There were many times I had to take off work or cancel lunches because I was laid up in bed in the fetal position, sobbing into a pillow and clutching a hot water bottle. The bloating and cramps left me feeling totally useless. Fortunately, I had a good support system of friends and a partner who helped me out; there were even times when they had to bring me groceries because I was just in no state to make it to the market.

There’s no part of your menstrual cycle that should leave you like this every single month. At least, that’s what I decided on after all the torture.

4. I got bad backaches during my period 

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I have scoliosis, so I already suffer from chronic backaches. A typical side effect of having a copper IUD is that you may experiences lower back pain when you’re on your period, and that definitely happened with me. My whole lumbar spine area was in agony each month. I took all the precautions I could — I went to yoga, I sat in a good office chair, and I tried to get massages — but none of it really helped.

5. There were many times I experienced pain during sex 

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It didn’t happen all the time, but it happened enough to where I wasn’t happy with it. Sometimes it only happened in certain positions, and when we maneuvered into another stance, it would go away. However, when I was PMSing, there was hardly ever a chance that I could have sex without being in pain. The cramps and general discomfort stopped me from being able to enjoy it at all, and no woman deserves to live without sex when she wants it.

6. My anxiety was spiking through the roof 

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Already a person who suffers from acute anxiety, dealing with all the side effects of the Paragard made me a bit crazy. I was constantly worried that I wouldn’t be able to get things done around the time of my period, that I would bleed everywhere, or that my life in general would never be the same. Dramatic? Maybe. But that’s what an anxiety disorder can do to a person.

In the end, I decided that battling my IUD wasn’t the way to live my life. I made the decision to get it taken out. After I did, nearly every one of these problems disappeared within a few weeks, and I was happy to see that my period was no longer a mean monster I was scared of every month. My vagina and I are much happier these days.

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