First: I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance and am generally unfussy when it comes to medical procedures. I had all four wisdom teeth out in my twenties then suffered from dry sockets without breaking a sweat. I have a rather large tattoo over my hipbone that was no whoop. I usually describe my colonoscopy as “hilarious.” Having a piece of copper inserted into my cervix however, that’s a different story.
I have been on some kind of birth control since I was 16 — but don’t get the wrong idea. I started menstruating late, at 14, and very soon found myself having my period every two weeks, so my mom got me on it. I was not even remotely close to have any kind of sex. I am not sure I really knew even what needed happened to constitute sex at that point.
Since then I have been on so many different kinds of birth control that I knew one thing for certain: I didn’t want to take anything else with hormones. I am already super emotional from the stress of work and school and having no money and a hellish commute — any additional fuel to the crazy fire certainly wasn’t helping things.
I decided to go with an IUD because everyone from my mom to my OBGYN recommended it. I also went with Paragard because it ISN’T hormonal and is made out of copper. Hey, I like the idea of having some copper bling in my thing, ya know?
When it came to the actual insertion, I sort of knew what to expect, but I didn’t want to know the exact step-by-step process and torture myself with the specifics. What I had read led to me to request a prescription painkiller for the insertion. She prescribed me Brucodin. However, I should have known it was going to hurt when I requested two pills (one for before and one for after) and she kind of laughed and said, “Let’s give you more than that.” She gave me four.
The actual insertion was today, and here is essentially what happened:
1) Took one Brucodin on the train on my way to the appointment.
2) Sat in waiting room for about one hour, high as a kite.
3) Got into the examining room and started freaking out a little. I tried to concentrate on this tropical fish mobile on the ceiling to calm down. (This was a real mobile, not just some kind of drug-induced imagined magic. Most likely.)
4) The procedure starting with them putting in the ol’ speculum and cleaning me out. Not bad at all so far!
5) They had gave me a local anesthetic, which was administered with a needle — like just before dental work. It was just a pinch, so big deal.
6) They had to measure my cervix. I was told it would hurt and feel weird, and holy crap did it.
7) The first time they tried to insert the IUD it failed because my cervix was too closed. OW. So they had to dialate it. OW. Then actually insert it. OWWWW.
My entire body was shaking, and the doctor told me I could sit if I wanted, but I just wanted to get out, because I thought I was going to cry. (She talked to me for like 2 more minutes as I fought off tears.)
I tore out of there and went to Rite Aid to walk around a bit so my thighs would stop stop cramping — they did, but as that pain wore off, so did my anesthetic, and (pardon my French) HOLY SHIT! Suddenly my back, pelvis, and upper thighs felt like they were going to explode.
The remainder of my commute home was miserable. I actually envisioned myself dying or having to be rushed to the emergency room from the pain about 100 times. I finally got home, stumbled in my door, and called my boyfriend. I begged him to get me some Aleve and a heating pad, all the while fully understanding why women would threaten their loved ones while giving birth.
I realize now that I made several mistakes:
1) I underestimated how bad it would hurt because I thought other people who talked about it were whiners. Of course I am sure some of them are, and the ones who claim it is worse than childbirth or breaking a limb are probably nutters. However, if you haven’t been pregnant or had a baby, your cervix isn’t used to stuff being put in it— and it doesn’t like it. So, uh, prepare for that.
2) I did not realize what transportation would be ideal while my pelvis was exploding. Plan to take a cab home or have someone pick you up.
3) If #1 is an issue for you, ask your doctor if you have also have something prescribed to loosen the ol’ cervix so you don’t have to be dilated.
4) Have tons of back up pads, painkillers, and a heating pad/bottle ready. If you can also have a helpful boyfriend around, that is good.
5) Do not plan to go into work or do well, anything, afterward. You probably can’t or won’t be able to.
6) If you can, have it done on the second day of your period, when your cervix is the most open to begin with. I had it done on the first day of mine, and that shit just wasn’t ready.
And, most of all, don’t just assume that you are a badass. The letdown sucks!