Beforplay.org Outreach Team Member: Taking the Step Towards the Most Effective Contraception

Here’s her story:

Well, ladies, all I can say is that it really IS easy. I’ve heard so many good things about IUDs (Intrauterine Devices) being really effective for pregnancy prevention, but the last time I checked (about two years ago) IUDs weren’t covered by my insurance and cost a lot up front. Today is definitely a new day! For a lot of people, cost is the biggest barrier to getting quality healthcare, especially when you have to prioritize your long-term health with day-to-day needs. I am definitely a part of that club!

When I was hired as an Outreach Organizer for Beforeplay.org, I wanted to walk the walk, so to speak, and know what it’s like to get an IUD inserted and know how it works as a contraceptive method. I loved the idea of having a birth control method that is reliable and that I didn’t have to remember every day – it’s just not my strong suit!

After I called my insurance agency and waited for a few minutes, I was told that the procedure wouldn’t cost me a thing, as it is considered preventative care. Not even a co-pay! I know that not everyone is as lucky as I am with insurance coverage, but it really struck home how much health care access improves overall quality of life. Instead of having to stress about how I was going to pay for an exam, much less the birth control after the fact, I just got to schedule something and know that I was being proactive with my health needs – which is a really good feeling! While we’re on the subject, I do want to share that there are clinics across the state that provide contraception and other sexual health care at low or no cost – to find one, check out our health center locator.

I had a few weeks until my appointment at a health center. I did a little bit of research on the three different kinds of IUD’s, ParaGard, Mirena and Skyla. ParaGard is 100% hormone-free and lasts for up to 10 years, which I loved; the downside for me was that it tends to make your periods terrible lot heavier and gives you much worse cramps, especially for the first few months after insertion. Mirena releases a small amount of progestin (a synthetic hormone) to prevent pregnancies and lasts up to 5 years. After a few months of irregular bleeding, periods usually go away or become very light (and I liked the sound of that!). Skyla – especially for people who haven’t had children yet, is also a progestin method and lasts up to 3 years.

I ended up choosing to go with the Mirena. When I showed up for my appointment, I did the paperwork dance, then met with a nurse for the intake. She walked me through the different kinds of IUD’s and asked which one I was interested in, answered all my questions, and then I waited in the exam room for the doctor to come in.

I am not going to lie – this procedure was NOT FUN. All caps. Generally, though, I’d say pelvic procedures aren’t on the top of anyone’s list of fun things. On the plus side, it was incredibly short. All told, it took about 5 minutes to insert the IUD. This website goes through the procedure, step-by-step, in better detail than I could. From the human perspective, the insertion of the “probe” (not exactly the least threatening name for something that is being inserted into my vagina) and IUD were the worst part of the process – but really only 5 seconds each of uncomfortable pinching. Considering that the Mirena will last 5 years, I try and look at it from the perspective that for every two seconds of discomfort I underwent, I got a year of incredibly effective birth control. That math works out for me.

After the insertion, I experienced a few instances of minor cramping, but nothing particularly noteworthy or painful. Overall, it was an incredibly easy, smooth, and worry-free process that I highly recommend you consider if you’re looking into birth control. I’m so excited that it’s likely going to be five years before I have to worry about my birth control again – 2019, you’re a delightfully long way away!

Courtney Stone