Tuesday 31 December 2013

Gotten Better

"I would get an IUD, but your post changed my mind - it sounds awful!"


If you squint at my friend's X-ray, you can see her IUD!

I thought I should update the original post, because things have gotten better.
This is rather a long post, with one cautionary tale, so I'll share the best bit first: my skin's cleared up. I have the copper IUD, which is non-hormonal, and should have no affect whatsoever on my spots. But, years of the pill have apparently trained my brain to associate controlled fertility with great skin. I'm trying not to think too much about it, in case I logic-away the placebo effect, but it's great.

The rest of this post is TMI heavy. I wrote it in the spirit that we should talk about these things. Controlling fertility is something that a significant percentage of the population thinks about, and does, every single day. It shouldn't be a woman's problem, hidden away, and only discussed over wine glasses or in dry pamphlets. We should talk about it, TMI be damned.


I've written about how much the insertion hurt. It hurt a lot, but the worst part was fainting. I fainted because I am a delicate little flower: if I hadn't passed out, it would have been miserable, but over very fast.

Afterwards, I curled up with a hot water bottle for a few days. It was on Thursday morning: I took Thursday afternoon off and worked from home Friday (I probably would have been just fine at work, but we have that flexibility, and it was just the time to exploit it: I was much comfier in my jarmies). I was back at work Monday, with a little cache of drugs.

There is such a thing as too many painkillers.

There was some pain in the first few weeks, so I chewed on Panadol and Nurofen like they were candy. Every four hours or so, and more Nurofen than Panadol because I was self medicating with wine after work, and you shouldn't drink and Panadol. Probably you shouldn't medicate with wine either, but it dulled the pain nicely and I'm back to my social-drinking schedule now. "You have to try Nurofen Plus," said a friend, "It's different, somehow. When I got my IUD, it was the only thing that helped."

I'd eaten all the 100 Nurofen I was prescribed, so I stumbled into the pharmacy and asked for the good stuff. "We're required to ask why you need it," said the pharmacist. I was hunched over and leaning on the counter. There was a man waiting in line behind me. "I got an IUD two weeks ago and it bloody hurts," I snapped.
"Oh - well this is good for that," said the pharmacist, soothingly.
When I got outside, I started laughing, ripping into the package and swallowing the Nurofen dry. "What's up?" said my friend.
"I'm sure I've gotten the morning after pill from there, and they're written it down in their computer too. The records are linked - they checked my new address. When they typed in my name, it probably came up - massive slut."
"How long have you been with that boy now? You're hardly a slut! And so what if they think that anyway. Now if they typed in my name…!"

I can see why they keep records of who may be abusing painkillers, and who's taking more than one morning after pill a month, but it's disquieting to think of that attached to my name on a database somewhere. In my last job, I worked for a company that made similar software. I wonder if they use a product I worked with, the heartless blue and grey boxes.

The pain got worse, so I called Healthline. Healthline, for those of you who haven't stumbled over it, is an 0800 number you can call and speak to a nurse. I've called a few times before, to ask: "how many days should you have a fever before it's a problem?" and "I've been stung by a bee. No, I'm not allergic, it's not swelling, but it hurts."

I wondered if they had "is scared of bees and prone to hysteria," on my record, but they took me very seriously. The nurse asked what my pain level was: six out of ten, but it was a different pain.
"Not ten out of ten?" she said hopefully.
"No, but it's different."
"I don't want to alarm you," she said, alarming me greatly, "But you need to see a doctor today, or take yourself to hospital. If the pain gets worse, call 111 at once."

I called the GP, and texted my friend in case I collapsed on the street.

"Those nurses told you what?" said the doctor. "Those nurses."
"One time there was a bee and they were good then," I said.
She shook her head. "They have to jump to the worst case scenario. Because you have an IUD, the worst case is an ectopic pregnancy or a perforated uterus. You have an abdominal infection, which is probably caused by taking too many Nurofen."
"But you prescribed them and I was in pain!"
She shrugged casually, like someone who knows their income is secure. Because it was a repeat visit, that trip cost me about $45, including new prescriptions.

I don't know if I'd have been in less pain if I'd had fewer, or different painkillers, but by the time I had finished my course of antibiotics, I was only taking painkillers a couple of times a day, and a week after that, I'd weaned off them entirely.

Change in periods

I won't go into this in great detail, but the heavy periods I was told to expect haven't materialised. They're a bit different, but not heavier: if anything, they might be a bit lighter. Similarly, I haven't suffered the cramps I was expecting. At my last period, I had exactly one cramp, as if my uterus was waving hello in passing.

"Did you know the string can stab your boyfriend in the dick?"

We're fine, thanks. No problems in that department.

Would I recommend it?

Yes! And I already have, vocally, to everyone I know. What's more compelling than a blog post from a chronic oversharer is the fact that female gynaecologists are more likely to use the IUD themselves. If that's not convincing, I don't know what is.


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