It’s no secret that I’m pretty passionate about women’s health–and my own desire to not have children. Which is why so many of my friends (and readers) are surprised to hear that I don’t have what so many of them have: an IUD. And really, there’s no good reason why I don’t have one, except that I am a big, whiny, afraid-of-the-doctor baby who has previously been too scared to take the plunge. But I’m finally doing it.
In case you’re unfamiliar, IUD stands for intrauterine device. A magical little device that blocks sperm and, in some cases, releases hormones, it’s been the most popular form of reversible birth control worldwide. And in the last two years, IUDs and other forms of non-surgical, semi-permanent birth control have been gaining in popularity among American women for a couple of reasons.
First, the stigma around their safety is wearing off. IUDs were banned in the US for decades because early versions put women at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease. But newer versions, when safely inserted and maintained, are super-safe.
Second, the IUD is also a great choice for women who are looking to delay childbirth, which is also pretty in right now. It’s reversible, but also semi-permenent, with some (like the copper, non-hormonal kind) lasting up to 12 years.
All of which sounds awesome, right? Except for one tiny problem: The actual insertion, which terrifies me. Because, as I mentioned, I’m very afraid of the doctor. Also, of pain.
When I say that I’m afraid of the doctor, what I really mean is that I turn into a crying, anxiety-ridden mess when I have to go to the OB/GYN for my annual. And because I’m uninsured (but I have access to my annual exam and birth control, thanks to Take Charge/Planned Parenthood!), that’s the only doctor I see regularly. In fact, it’s the only doctor I’ve seen in at least three years.
There’s just something about the pap smear that I hate. It hurts, it gives me a cramp, it’s totally horrible, and, at this point, I’ve been hating it for so many years that even just putting on the paper dress throws me into a state of panic so intense I can hardly stand it.
The idea of getting a tiny plastic scarecrow shoved into my cervix? It’s almost too much to bear. But I’m doing it, because it’s the right thing to do. My regular birth control is about $60/month when I don’t have Take Charge (which is sometimes–it depends on how much money you make/don’t make each year, and mine fluctuates because I’m a freelancer), and an IUD is much cheaper over the 10 or so years I’ll have it.
I’m also doing it because I think that if someone else had blogged about it, and I’ve had been able to read someone’s real, honest experience, I’d have one already. Because really, it’s the not knowing that’s killing me/making me so nervous I want to vomit while I write this.