An Open Breakup Letter To My IUD

Dear ParaGard,

When I got back from living in Burundi, East Africa two years ago, one of the first things I did was have you inserted. There is nothing like a pregnancy scare in a developing Catholic country where the pill is almost contraband to make you yearn for an IUD. And I loved that you were non-hormonal and wouldn't give me mood swings or "alter" my personality, unlike the pill. I'd flirted with the pill in college, but said goodbye when it made me feel like a weepy powder keg. As my mom always told me, a birth control method that makes you cry isn't worth your tears. (Or something like that.)

The process of inserting you wasn't bad. I welcomed your cute little plastic, T-shaped, copper-wire-wrapped frame into my uterus, and your copper ions quickly leached into my uterine fluids and cervical mucus and then proceeded to kill any sperm that happened to be swimming around in there. Brilliant. I was told we could be together for up to 10 years. Even better.
But — and there is no easy way to say this — our love story is ending. I'm kicking you out. We had a great run. You gave me two years of worry-free unprotected sex (with monogamous partners who had been tested; don't get it twisted) that I'll never forget. You're famously 99% effective, and you've been 100% effective over our time together. Thank you for that.

The road, though, has not been smooth. The cramps you gave me weren't unmanageable: sharp, more intense than before, but still few and far between. And I'm not concerned about the handful of times a partner has been able to feel the plastic thread that extends from the stem of your T gently poking the tip of his penis. But we have got to talk about the 25% of my life I spend bleeding profusely onto anything remotely in, on, or around my vagina. Some people get periods. With you, I get bloodbaths that make the Red Wedding massacre on Game of Thrones look like a pillow fight and Kill Bill look like a tea party with the Queen.

Some people get periods. With you, I get bloodbaths that make the Red Wedding massacre on Game of Thrones look like a pillow fight

Researchers aren't sure how you do it, ParaGard, but you can double a woman's menstrual blood loss after insertion. You did not spare me. We don't have to go into it all now, but it took using a super tampon and an overnight pad at the same time to keep the havoc you wrought at bay. If I forgot to renew this one-two punch every couple of hours, I could expect to spend the rest of the day with a sweatshirt tied around my waist. I have bled through underwear and then pants and onto chairs; I have left the office in the middle of the day to buy leggings to wear until I could slink home. More than one well-meaning stranger has come up to me to murmur that I had, well, a little stain, you know, down there? And then there's the money I owe my boyfriend for ruined bedding. He says not to worry, he's a Jackson Pollock fan, but I know he's just being nice. My iron levels and I are done.

This might sting, but you should know that I've already found something new. As soon as you leave, my practitioner will insert a hormonal IUD, Mirena, into my uterus, where the 52-milligram reservoir that covers the stem of Mirena's T will start releasing 20 micrograms of the progestin hormone levonorgestrel a day. I used to worry about those hormones, but then I compared Mirena to the pill and its 150 mcg of progestin a day, much more of which reaches the bloodstream, and my fears were calmed. My cervical mucus will thicken, my uterine lining will thin, sperm will have nowhere to live, and, voilà, no babies — and light-to-absent periods, thanks to the bit about the thinner uterine lining. The Red Sea is parting.

it took using a super tampon and an overnight pad at the same time to keep the havoc you wrought at bay.

The thing that I've come to accept, dear ParaGard, is that everything I put into my body is going to affect me in one way or another. It doesn't make sense to be a purist only about levonorgestrel, and very small amounts of it at that. Eating a doughnut for breakfast is more likely to make me feel like shit than those levels of hormones in my uterus, and I haven't given up sugar yet. And, like you, Mirena is over 99% effective. I can have this one in for five years, and I'm long-term committed. What can I say? I'm a serial monogamist. I think M and I are going to be very happy together.

I really do wish you well, and fully acknowledge that you may be the perfect fit for someone else. It's not you; it's both of us. I can promise you one thing, though. I will not try to sell you on Facebook for $40, because that's just gross.

Bye,
Hayley

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