I've been meaning to write this post for a while, and someone asked me just this evening how the IUD has been working out for me, so I'm going for it now. As I talked about in my original IUD post, the weekend after the insertion was incredibly difficult. I was crampy and sad and generally just shlubbed around being sorry for myself. Thankfully, Buddy was very supportive and catered to my whininess.
Over time, there have been both physical differences as well as emotional, and I'll talk about them both honestly, despite the fact that I'm squeamish when it comes to talking about cycles. I can do it all day long among other ladies who are TTC, but it's not something I do openly or comfortably, even at the age of 31.
Because I opted for Paragard, which is a non-hormonal copper IUD, my cycles are natural. This is something that really freaked me out. After 10 years on BCPs, I liked the ability to manipulate my cycle by a week here and there if there was a vacation or event that I didn't want interrupted by my periods. I liked knowing exactly when I could expect my period. It was the biggest adjustment to me when I kicked them to the curb. However, I gained weight both when I started taking them at 18 and when I stopped when we started TTC. I'm already heavier than I'd like to be, and the thought of more hormones and weight gain freaked me out. Thus, Paragard was a great option for me. It gives more than 99% effectiveness for about 10 years, and if the time were to come where Buddy and I panic and say "WTF have we done?" it's an easy reversal without the need to wait for my cycles to correct themselves (it took me a full year to become what I considered "consistent" when I quit BCPs).
The downside of the Paragard has been my periods. The copper in the IUD works by creating an environment in the uterus that is not preferable for both sperm and eggs. I can't honestly remember right now how the doctor described it, but the copper irritates or stimulates the endometrium and can cause heavier bleeding and more cramping. That's definitely been the case for me. CD1 and CD2 are much heavier and - for the first time since I was in high school - I have to actually plan my day in 4 hour increments to avoid any unpleasant incidents. The cramping was absolutely awful the 1st cycle. I honestly felt like my uterus was trying to kill me for abut 4 days. The cramping has lessened, but I still have some significant discomfort the day or two before a new cycle starts - certainly much more than I did prior to Paragard.
Alright, now that the physical stuff is out of the way, on to the easier topic. Emotionally, getting the Paragard has been the right choice for us. I feel like I've reclaimed Me to an extent. I had a really hard time dealing with the what-ifs every cycle if I knew just by calculating that our timing could have resulted in that highly unlikely-5%-ever pregnancy (which is actually less now, thanks to Buddy's TRT). We wanted to move on and live life and be spontaneous with intimacy, but my fear of the unexpected (as rare as it is) weighed on my mind. Now, I'm free of that uncertainty. Just recently, my cycles were consistently 28-29 days long. My last one was 35 days. It dawned on me that I'd have been a wreck without the IUD - since I don't chart anymore, I no longer know exactly when I ovulate (though I have a generally good idea thanks to CP and CM). With Paragard, I know I just have to wait it out. It's a very different mentality, and there's a peace to it. I know what life will be like, and I have control over life again. We have control. It's something we felt deprived of for two years, and it's been an incredible thing to have return to our life. I don't regret this decision for a second.
So, that's my experience with Paragard after about 5 months living with it. There are pros and cons, but the upsides have all been emotional, which is most important and far outweighs the physical downsides for me.