When people talk about losing their virginity, the story usually starts out in the backseat of a Jetta or on a beer-stained basement couch, and ends with the phrase, “it was terrible.” My experience was nothing like that.
I was 15 at the time, and head over heels in love with my then-boyfriend. We had had this elaborate plan for months to sneak away to his family’s summer house right before Christmas to do it (my first introduction to virginity loss was from Dawson’s Creek, so it made sense at the time), because we both wanted it to be absolutely perfect. But then, a few weeks before our romantic getaway was set to happen, my parents went out of town and I made him a candle-lit dinner and we ended up doing it right then and there, with candles and roses etc. etc.
It was the kind of scenario teen rom-com dreams are made of, only even less realistic because it was so damn perfect it would be unbelievable on screen (with the obvious exception of the whole “ouch, ouch my hymen” thing, that is.). Joey Potter would have been jealous.
Two weeks later, my mom found out that I’d #swipedmyVcard after I left a love letter I was writing open in a Word Doc on the family computer (whoops.), and threw my ass in the car and drove it straight to Planned Parenthood. I went on birth control immediately, and from that day forward, my boyfriend and I could have do it in parking lots all over Rhode Island (and some in Massachusetts) without having to worry about becoming the stars of Teen Mom 2.0.
Since then, I have been a die-hard daily hormone taker for a decade. It hasn’t always been perfect — I’ve tried multiple different methods, gained weight, bled non-stop and not at all, had my fair share of pregnancy scares — but so far, it’s worked (as in, I’ve never actually been pregnant or had an STD).
Cut to January, when I was about to embark on my year of travel and realized that the Lo-LoEstrin pill I’d been relying on for the last four years was no longer the most convenient option. Shuttling a year’s supply of pills over multiple borders sounded like a nightmare, and I couldn’t even fathom trying to deal with a different foreign pharmacy every month.
So, my gynecologist suggested the IUD.
I hadn’t ever particularly wanted to put a T-shaped piece of plastic into my cervix before, but the more she told me about it the more appealing it became. All it took was one quick insertion and I wouldn’t have to think about getting pregnant five years (plus, she told me I’d probably stop getting my period). I made the appointment, then made the mistake of going home and Googling “What to know about IUD’s” for hours. And let me tell you, the information I found freaked me the fuck out to the point where I almost called and cancelled. Thankfully, I am really, really glad that I didn’t.
There are tons of horror stories out there about how painful the insertion process is (… one of my friends passed out, another had to stay home from work for multiple days), but part of the reason I wanted to share my story is because my experience was nothing but positive.
I took a half of a low-dose pain pill a half an hour before my appointment and mentally prepared myself for absolute fucking hell. I scheduled everything really last minute, so I’d never even met the doctor who was doing the procedure until my feet were already in the stirrups. She coached me through some breathing exercises, then stuck some sort of measuring device all up in me to make sure the IUD was clipped to the right size. Then it was time to put in the actual device, which I knew was going to be the worst part. I took a deep breath and braced myself for blinding pain, but it never came. There were 20-ish seconds of discomfort, and then it was all over.
I bought some adult diaper-style pads and extra strength Tylenol on the way home assuming that I would be cramping and bleeding for at least the next few days, but it never happened. The next morning, I woke up and went to a hardcore abs class and felt fine.
It’s been eight months since my uterus took in a new plastic occupant, and I can honestly say it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve never had a problem with the strings (FYI, that’s a common complaint), and only get my period every couple of months. My birth control isn’t something I actively have to think about anymore, and that feeling is pretty damn freeing.
Obviously, every body is different (mine, apparently, just happens to be very IUD friendly) and it’s a completely personal decision, but IMHO the IUD is a life-changing option for people looking for a more longterm solution… especially those of us who have no idea what country their pharmacy will be located every month.
Plus, living at the beach without having to worry about getting your period is 💯.