The Side Effects Of My First IUD
I went off birth control and got a ParaGard IUD. Now I’m horny, like, all the time. When I wake up next to my boyfriend, forget it—we’re barely getting to work on time. If he emails me during work, I need two minutes to regain my focus. After work … well, you get the idea. Spending eight years on the pill and then bidding it adieu has led me to a sexual renaissance. It’s puberty all over again, only now I’m 27 and have enough experience to appreciate my freer-flowing juices. I’ve been off the pill’s added hormones for about a month and half now, and the pros definitely outweigh the cons. First pro: enhanced urges and wetter sex. I admit, though, that my first few romps with the IUD were nerve-racking. My boyfriend told me he could feel it with the tip of his penis (it didn’t hurt him at all, FYI). I was pretty sure this was normal, but I was still freaked at the thought of it getting pushed loose. At my follow-up, my gyno assured me that all he feels are the strings that hang from the IUD, re-showing me a diagram that depicted the T-shaped IUD’s safe haven beyond the cervix. Basically, no matter how well endowed your man is, his goods aren’t making it that deep.
Second pro: weight loss. I value my sanity and thus refuse to own a scale, so I don’t know how many pounds I’ve shed. What I do know, though, is that I suddenly fit into a pair of pants that haven’t fit me since going through a stressful breakup two years ago—and this happened during the buttery-food-aplenty holiday season. (Note for all you beautiful ladies: please don’t go off the pill if your sole intention is to slim down.)
The next pro has to do with the fact that you’re reading this essay. The mental fuzziness that came with the pill seems to have disappeared. Despite the occasional distraction, I’m more on the ball professionally and more motivated to write in general, at times even waking up an hour early to work on poems and pitches. The headaches are gone, and a few co-workers and friends have even noted that I seem happier. I’m no fool: These perks could of course be attributed to all the orgasms I’m having. (Remember Elaine’s reaction to abstinence in that episode of “Seinfeld”? Maybe sex is my garbage man.) But, you know—chicken, egg, whatever.
Now for the con. (Or is it? I’ll explain.) I’ve only experienced one period since I went off birth control, and I’ve been told the first one’s the worst. That said, it was heavy. It lasted eight days, six of which were, uh, messy. Days seven and eight were light, and days one and six were like being on day two with the pill. As for days two through five, let’s just say I was chain tamponing. I would pop in a super at 8 a.m. before leaving for work, and when I arrived at 9 a.m., I would have to reload.
I went through so many that I found myself empty-handed one night when I made it to a crowded bar in the East Village. I hung out in the bathroom for a few minutes until, finally, an angel with a German accent carried out the quintessential act of female solidarity; doves soared when I saw her delicate fingers handing off a reinforcement under the stall door. Now, this might sound awful to deal with to many women, but I kind of like it. Call me Carole King, but I feel like my natural woman self again. Even the color of my blood (TMI?) is a brighter red, more vivacious. Is it odd that I feel invigorated by heavier periods? Would that deter you from getting an IUD?
A lot of women commented on my last essay that they love their Mirena IUD, and I take your word for it. I can’t speak with experience to that brand, but only to the ParaGard. I imagine it has some of the same perks as the ParaGard (no daily pill-popping, for one), but the side effects are surely different, since it uses hormones (albeit a lower dosage than the pill) to keep you baby-free. I hear it can lead to weight gain but also lighter periods, much like the pill. I chose the ParaGard because it is hormone-free, and I wanted to get back to being Laura. And this Laura is fitter, happier and more productive.