Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Update on Periods

It's been a while since my last post and a few things have happened. 

Firstly, I didn't get my second period as expected. I sort of freaked out, since I'm so used to it being exactly on time during my four years on the NuvaRing. I got the cramps that should have signaled it starting, but no blood at all. So, I waited a week. It still didn't come. I took a pregnancy test and it was definitively negative, which was good. I decided to just sort of wait it out for a while longer because I read some stuff online about how the IUD (even the copper one) can screw with you for the first few months. 

I kept taking pregnancy tests, still negative, but still no period. Finally, after the period that was supposed to come after my already-missed period was late, I called my doctor. She had me come in for a check-up. The IUD was still in place and everything was fine there. She sent me for some blood work just to make sure things were okay. She said her best guess was that my body wasn't used to ovulating yet after being on hormonal BC for so long. So, although I still had enough lining stored up in my uterus for the first period, I might not have another period until my body decided to ovulate again.

A couple of days after the check-up, I got my period. Go figure! It was moderately crampy, but not very heavy. It lasted about 6 days and then appeared to go away. For a couple of days after, I was fine, and then I started bleeding again. Not quite heavy enough to be a period, but not quite light enough to be spotting. Very annoying. That's still going on and it's been about 10 days. Sometimes it's super light, sometimes it's heavier. I'm trying to take Advil to see if that helps.

Also, I got the test results in the mail from my doctor. No pregnancy - yay! But she did note that I have a "mild case" of polycystic ovarian syndrome. She noted on the letter that I will probably never have regular periods, and asked me to call her to discuss. I called today, but she hasn't gotten back to me yet. 

Overall, things are slowly still getting better with the cramping. I still have random cramping here and there, but it's less and less each month. I'm still happy with the IUD.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More on how it's going...

Everything's pretty good. 98% of the time, I don't feel anything at all - no pain or cramping or discomfort or anything. Some days when I do feel a twang of pain, I just take one Advil and everything's fine after that. I think that within the next month, I won't notice anything at all. I think my uterus is getting really used to having the Paragard in there.

One thing I noticed: the other night, when my husband and I were having sex, some of the positions caused more pain than others. Me on bottom or on top in generic, "vanilla" positions were all fine and I didn't feel a thing. But in some positions that get him deeper (from behind, for example), it hurt. I think it was just that my cervix was getting slammed and the IUD is behind it, so it was getting hit, too. Nothing seems out of place and my husband didn't feel anything weird, so I don't think anything's wrong, I just think my IUD didn't like being hit over and over again. The pain didn't last after we were done, and I didn't bleed or anything. I'm sure it's all still a little inflamed in there. I'm guessing that like most of the other symptoms surrounding insertion, this will go away over time, but it's something to keep in mind.

Friday, August 3, 2012

One Month Paragard Check-Up

Everything was fine!

My doctor asked me some questions about how I was feeling and how the last month has been. I gave an abbreviated version of this blog, saying how it was all much better/easier than I had been expecting. Then she had me get in the stirrups and she examined my uterus by checking for the strings, looking/feeling around up there, and pressing on my abdomen. She didn't do an ultrasound, which surprised me, but she said everything looked great. She also said it was unlikely now that I'd gone through my first period that it was fall out of place. She offered to prescribe me some stronger pain meds for my period cramps, but the Advil seems to be working fine, so I declined.

Barring any intense pain, expulsion or some other emergency, I won't have to see her until next year at my check-up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

First Period with Paragard

My period came almost as expected. It was about 3 days later than I'm used to, but I was on the NuvaRing for five years and that made my period come like clockwork. With the Paragard, I'm back to whatever my natural schedule is supposed to be. I was a little worried for those three days, because I still haven't seen the doctor and I was worried something went wrong and that I might be pregnant.

But never fear, I guess, it came after all.

I had pretty bad cramps last Friday. Since my cramps have mostly gone away since the insertion, I had a hunch this might be my period. Sure enough, my period started Friday evening. With the NuvaRing, my period cramps were never anything more than a few hours of very (almost unnoticeable) mild cramping. I never even usually took meds for them, that's how uneventful they were. With Paragard, my cramps were definitely noticeable. They didn't make me bedridden, but they were painful and persistent throughout Saturday and Sunday. I took 400mg Ibuprofen pretty regularly those days and that almost completely alleviated the cramping. Monday was a little better, but I still took the Ibuprofen. By Tuesday, I didn't need it and the cramps appeared gone. Also by Tuesday, my period seemed mostly gone. It trailed a little into Wednesday, but that was it, so it didn't really last that much longer than my previous ones.

It was a decent amount heavier, though. I used to exclusively use "regular" tampons, and I probably could've gotten away with one every 12-14 hours if I wanted (and the packaging didn't say not to do that). With this first Paragard period, I upgraded to "super" tampons and thin pantyliners to be safe, and was changing the tampon every 6-8 hours Friday-Monday and it would usually be full. But then it was extremely light on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On a whole, it really wasn't anything I couldn't handle. Also, periods are supposed to get better over time on the Paragard (as your body adjusts to it), so I don't foresee any problems in the future.

I see the doctor for a check-up on Friday - hopefully everything is fine and in place.

Friday, July 20, 2012

More waiting...

Not that much has changed since my last post. I did stop taking regular doses of the Ibuprofen last week, and that seems fine. I've been taking one or two here and there if I feel cramping coming on, but I haven't had any bleeding (not even spotting) and the cramps have been either nonexistent or mild. I did have one night of really terrible cramping that woke me up in the middle of the night. I took two Ibuprofen and put a heat pack on my abdomen and went back to sleep and it was gone in the morning. I have no idea what was up with that.

Sex has been fine so far. Absolutely no pain, no bleeding or cramping afterwards, either. My husband did mention that he could feel the strings one of the times, but I don't think it bothered him. I think they are coiled up near my cervix - I can barely reach them and sometimes don't feel them at all.

I'm expecting my period sometime next week, so we'll see what happens with that. And the week after, I have my check-up with the doctor.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

So far, So Same.

It's been 10 days since the insertion. I've been taking pretty regular doses of 200mg of Ibuprofen when I wake up, at about Noon, in the late afternoon and before bed, and so far the bleeding has not returned. I don't know if the Advil is reducing the swelling and helping there, or if the bleeding has gone anyway by itself. I'm going to give myself a few more days on the Ibuprofen before trying without it again.

Other than that, I'm still having very, very, very mild cramping. It's more just a little uncomfortable than anything. Also, the occasional twang of cramping and pain, but about 95% of the time, I feel completely normal.

The only remaining annoying thing is that since about 2 days after insertion, I've been getting yellow-brown discharge. I've read that this is normal, as a result of the mucus thickening, and that it may even be one of the reasons the Paragard IUD works as birth control. It's been fairly heavy so far, and I'm hoping that it will regulate itself after a while. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Days Following The Insertion

The day after the insertion, I still had the mild-to-moderate cramping. I was taking 400mg of Ibuprofen on a strict schedule of every few hours, which I think made all the difference in the world. I was back at work with very few issues. Very occasionally, I felt a more painful than normal twang, but for the most part, I either felt mild cramping or forgot about it entirely. I was still on my period, but everything was normal with no apparent change.

The second and third days after the insertion were very similar. I took the Ibuprofen down to 200mg (one tablet) every 4-6 hours on the second day after the insertion and kept it like that on the second, third and fourth days. The cramping was getting lighter and lighter and, with the Ibuprofen, I barely felt a thing. My period ended as expected with no problems.

On the second day after the insertion, I tried finding the strings that are supposed to hang down into my uterus, and couldn't. I got very worried for a while, but the mild cramping told me the Paragard was definitely still in there, so I waited until the next day and checked again. I eventually found them tucked up really high - coiled (I think) near my cervix. I really had to dig for them, and I'm not really sure how I'm ever going to be able to tell anything like length (which you are supposed to check for), but they are definitely there.

Overall, the cramping was trailing off and I had no other apparent side effects. I did occasionally get twangs of sharp pain, but they were brief and not very intense. I think my uterus was just unhappy with its new occupant.

On the fifth day after insertion (Tuesday; the insertion was the previous Thursday), I decided to stop taking the Ibuprofen. I took one early that morning, but didn't take any again for the rest of the day. Later in the day, I noticed I was bleeding a little. This, I think, is pretty normal, so I just let it go and put a tampon in. It wasn't very much blood - not like it was pouring out or anything.

That night, my husband and I had sex. Completely normal experience. He said he couldn't feel anything (not the strings, nor the IUD), and I didn't feel anything bad (like pain or discomfort). That's a good sign.

I kept bleeding that night and into today, Wednesday, July 4th (6 days after insertion). I used tampons and the flow of blood was light-to-moderate, not really filling the tampon up and not heavily clotted or anything. I figure that my uterus is inflamed from the IUD still and that is probably what is causing the bleeding. There is very little cramping and pain. The cramping is extremely light, and I'm only getting a little bit of a light twang of pain here and there, but clearly something is a little off.

At 5:00pm, I decided to try an experiment. I took Ibuprofen again, thinking it might quiet the inflammation and stop the bleeding. It's 11:00pm now, and the bleeding appears to have stopped, so I think the Ibuprofen is working as I intended it. Unfortunately, taking Ibuprofen constantly for the next 10 years (or even 1 year or even 1 month) is not sustainable. I've read a lot of horror stories online about women just bleeding and bleeding and bleeding and having it never stop - I really hope that doesn't happen here.

For now, I'm going to keep up a "light" regimen of Ibuprofen for the next few days (one 200mg tablet every 6 hours or so) and then try going off it again. Maybe by then the inflammation will have settled down a little. It's still only the first week, so I'm not that worried - this is definitely the kind of thing that can take a while to get used to. I do have a follow-up appointment with the doctor in a month, so at the very worst if I'm still bleeding (or something else goes wrong), she can give me some advice.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Paragard Insertion Procedure and Aftermath

My appointment to get the Paragard IUD inserted was at 11:30am on Thursday, June 28, 2012. My gynecologist is female, older, and has been my doctor for five years now.

Like most visits to the gynecologist, they took my vital stats and then had me go into an exam room and put on a hospital robe. The nurse came in and set everything up on the counter - the Paragard device, as well as all the tools they needed. My doctor then came in and talked with me again about my medical history and about the common side effects of the Paragard (cramping, heavy periods, long periods, etc.). She told me she would be using Novocaine (local anesthesia) on my cervix because she's had IUDs before and knows how much pain they can cause. I asked her to talk me through the procedure, because I was curious, and she also promised to warn me before she did anything that would cause pain.Then she had me lie back and the procedure began.

The first thing I have to say before I describe the whole thing is that it wasn't as bad as I had planned for. About an hour before my appointment, I took 800mg of Ibuprofen as well as a tablet of .5mg of Ativan (Lorazepam, a common sedative) which I have in case of emergencies. I was also on my period, which is the recommended time to have the procedure, as your cervix is already dilated a little. Various stories on the internet convinced me that the pain was going to be the worst thing I had ever felt and that I might pass out from it. Although the pain was pretty intense, I'd have to guess that the total duration of it was roughly 20-30 seconds. Then again, I had the Novocaine, so I can't speak for women whose doctors don't use that.

The first thing the doctor did was insert a giant speculum (bigger than the usual one for pap smears) into me. After that, she inserted the Novocaine, which was an injection that was supposed to pinch, but I really hardly felt anything at all. After that, she cleansed the inside of my vagina and cervix with betadine, which is an antiseptic. I didn't feel that part at all.

And then came the first of the two "waves" of pain. It was time to get the tube holding the Paragard device through my cervix and into my uterus. As she slid it up, I had about 10-15 seconds of extremely intense cramping. It was very, very bad, but also very, very brief. I got shaky and sweaty, but once it was up there, the cramping passed and I had a moment of rest while the doctor prepared the next step.

The next step, which brought the second "wave" of pain, was raising the "arms" of the IUD to lock it into place. This was another 10-15 seconds of terrible, sharp cramping just like the previous wave, but it was also brief. After it was in place, she pulled out the tube, the cramping subsided, and the doctor said it had gone in perfectly. Because I was on my period and because the procedure aggravated my uterus, the doctor took a moment to wipe a bunch of the blood away and (I think) apply more antiseptic.

The whole procedure is fairly uncomfortable throughout, with the speculum in place and someone rooting around in your vagina and all, but my pain was brief and bearable.  I think I was probably in the exam room for a total of 30 minutes?

Once she was completely done, she gave me a bunch of literature to read about the Paragard and answered my questions. She told me to keep taking Ibuprofen for a while, to avoid tampons just for this one cycle of my period, and to use my best judgement about having sex, but she said she would at least give it a few days. I felt a little dizzy, so I laid back while we talked. By the time we were done, the dizziness had passed. I felt mostly fine as I got dressed and made my follow-up appointment for a month later, mostly just a little shaken by the whole procedure still.

I got home with no issues. I didn't feel anymore dizziness or nausea for the rest of the afternoon or evening. I kept taking 400mg of Ibuprofen every 4-6 hours or so that day and had mild-to-moderate cramping. It was noticeable, like a bad period, and although I did stay in bed with a heating pad for the afternoon, I think I could've pretty easily gone to work or done errands. I also did some stuff around the house that evening with no issues.

Overall, I have to say that while the procedure isn't a walk in the park, it wasn't as bad as the internet horror stories had led me to believe.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who I Am and What I'm Doing

My name is Angela, and I've decided to try the Paragard IUD. I've read a lot on the internet about the Paragard (including the many, many horror stories), and I thought I'd give a detailed account of my own experience to help others with their decision.

For those who don't know what an IUD is, it is a form of contraception - specifically, a little T-shaped device which sits inside the uterus. There are two versions of IUD birth control: the Mirena and the Paragard. The Mirena is a hormone-based method and the Paragard is a copper-based method with no hormones. I'm choosing the copper one because I've literally been on hormonal birth control for 10 years (since almost the very start of my periods) and I want to see what it's like without hormones. In addition, I'm hoping this method will be even more hassle-free than the ring which I'm currently on, and (if it works) it will cut down on my birth control expenses as I'm lucky enough to have insurance which covers the whole IUD cost. I'm also experimenting to see if it helps with my migraines, libido, acne, or anything else.

Let me tell you a little about myself. I'm 24 years old, and married to a 24 year old man. We are in a monogamous relationship. I have never had children or been pregnant, and I have almost no physical medical issues except for my migraines. The only prescription medications I'm on right now are the NuvaRing (birth control, which will soon be swapped for the IUD) and Imitrex (a migraine medication). I am 5'3" inches and about 125 lbs., of an average-to-skinny build. I've been told my reproductive anatomy is "normal" and I've never had any problems - not even a single yeast infection.

My doctor was pretty hesitant to put an IUD in for me, mainly because I haven't had children. She warned me that women who haven't had children or pregnancies to stretch out their uterus often find the IUD uncomfortable and have it removed more often than women who have had children. She also warned me of the common things you hear about the Paragard IUD: that it can increase period length and flow amount, cause more cramping, and that it often takes a month or two to get fully acclimated in the body, which can result in bleeding, cramping and spotting for that whole time. We talked about it extensively before agreeing to do the procedure. Because my insurance covers the whole thing, it seemed like a risk worth taking because if it works, it will be extremely convenient and hassle-free.

I'm having it put in on Thursday, June 28th, 2012 and will report back about the procedure.