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Some intrauterine education

Why an intrauterine device was the best form of birth control for me

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Image Credits: Sarah Mirk (Flickr)

The last time I paid for — or even thought about — birth control was about two years ago.

That’s not a result of self-imposed abstinence or some ill-informed ‘rhythm method’ practice. Almost two years ago, I found the birth control method for me in an intrauterine device (IUD — not to be confused with DUI or UTI).

An IUD, for those who don’t know, is a T-shaped device that sort of looks like a double-fishhook. The two main types are copper, which naturally prevents pregnancy, or plastic with a gradual release of the hormone levonorgestrel. Mirena, the brand behind my IUD, notes that there isn’t a single explanation behind why this hormone prevents pregnancy, but a collection of reasons. Whether it’s “thinning the lining of your uterus” or something else, this birth control method is over 99 percent effective. The device is inserted into your uterus by a medical professional, and it stays there for years, depending on the type.

Like a lot of other women, my first contact with birth control was combining the pill and condoms, and praying that nothing would go awry. The pill was great for a while — until I got tired of renewing my prescription every few months, encountering issues with medical coverage, and shelling out too much money even with coverage. I’m a big believer that birth control should be readily accessible, no matter the form. I had also started hating having to remember to take the pill at the same time every day, as well as the spotting and unpredictable periods.

This is why choosing to get an IUD was the best decision for me. The first point in its favour: I don’t have to worry about it for another three years. Three years! I’ll be 25 years old then! Justin Trudeau will be midway through campaigning for the next federal election! There will be hover cars and time travel and probably a new suite of Spider-Man movies!

I went to the doctor to discuss my IUD options, got the prescription, and went to the doctor once more for the procedure.

When I was on the pill, I liked feeling proactive, that I was in control of my own birth control every day. Now I like not having to think about it at all. I went to the doctor to discuss my IUD options, got the prescription, and went to the doctor once more for the procedure.

The second point in the IUD’s favour is that it didn’t cost me a cent. If memory serves, I was paying about $20 for three boxes of the pill every few months. I haven’t had to pay for birth control since I switched methods.

This is because of beautiful, wondrous medical coverage. Without coverage, the IUD can become expensive: according to The Globe and Mail, prices can range from $80–160 for a copper device, and $325–360 for a hormonal one. Consider those costs, though: if I had continued to pay roughly $20 every three months for the pill over a period of five years, it would amount to roughly $400. In those terms, the IUD is far less expensive and far more convenient.

I have no doubts that the IUD was the right birth control method for me at this point in my life. That doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone, and there are risks. The device can “go through the wall of the uterus and cause other problems,” according to Mirena; if you are one of the eight in 1,000 women who becomes pregnant while on the device, there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy, where the pregnancy develops in the fallopian tubes rather than the uterus.

IUDs also don’t protect against STIs, and not all women are comfortable changing their bodies through hormones and implantations.

It is so important, if you are sexually active, to research what methods are right for you. You may prefer the pill or an IUD, or choose something else entirely, such as the patch or condoms. It’s your body, so you have to be comfortable with what you’re using on it.

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