When I saw this news about a new IUD designed for young women, I was so excited! And partly mad that it didn’t come out four years ago so I could have avoided a world of trouble.
An IUD or “intrauterine device” is a birth control that contains either copper or progesterone and is inserted into your uterus for anywhere from 3-5 years. This new one is called Skyla, and it’s a low-dose IUD that prevents pregnancy for up to three years. Skyla is smaller than the other IUDs out there, and it was designed with young women in mind.
When I was eighteen, I suffered from a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in the lung. And it’s exactly as terrifying as it sounds. I was fortunately home from college for winter break. I woke up in the middle of the night, struggling to breathe and with a searing pain in my back. I crawled my way toward my parents’ room, and my brother found me on the floor.
I spent a week in the hospital doped up on Morphine and being prodded with needles and IVs. The doctors said had we arrived an hour later, the clot would have broken apart and traveled to my heart or brain, which could have killed me. I can easily say this as the worst week of my life.
I was able to go back to school, but I was very ill. I had marks on my arms from constant blood tests (2-3 a week) to monitor my blood thinners. I was medicated for eight months and my doctors were still trying to figure out why this happened to someone my age.
After countless tests, my doctors concluded that my blueberry-sized clot was a direct result of my birth control, Yaz. Blood clots are a side effect of most birth control pills, as estrogen is a blood-thickening agent. But they’re really not that common (so don’t totally flip out, ok?) and they’re normally more of a concern for women over 30 and smokers. You’ve seen the lawsuit commercials about Yaz and blood clots, I’m sure. And I’m involved in one of those. The entire experience was scary and really hard to accept. Here I was, young and healthy, and then I all of a sudden wasn’t.
From that point forward, I wasn’t allowed to be on regular birth control. I could take mini-pills under strict watch of my gyno, but I had really awful periods. I had paralyzing cramps, serious irregularity, migraines and all that fun stuff, which is why I started birth control in the first place. I had switched to Yaz per a recommendation from my dermatologist since I was struggling with acne. Yaz was supposed to be this miracle birth control for me that cleared up my acne, help with my period issues and kept me baby-free. Obviously, it wasn’t.
The mini-pills were rough for me. They’re progestin-only, which means they don’t control the hormonal effects of your period. They strictly deal with the not having babies thing. Progestin is funky and affects all women differently. For me, it meant getting my period every other week. I hated everything. I was sick of feeling awful, so I stopped taking the mini-pills and was birth control free for a year.
This is where the Mirena IUD came in. I couldn’t get an IUD at eighteen because quite simply it didn’t fit. IUDs aren’t large by any means, but they don’t fit in the small uteruses (uteri?) of young women. They’re really made for adult women who’ve already had a child, and that wasn’t me. So my gyno told me to give it a few years, and I finally got Mirena last summer. It’s the best thing that’s happened to me. I don’t feel crazy, I don’t have mood swings, I don’t have a period. Oh, and I don’t get pregnant.
Having an IUD has changed my life, and I really wish Skyla was an option for me years ago. Not only did I suffer from some of the worst menstrual side effects, but my regular birth control almost killed me. I was so lucky, and I’m so fortunate that I can discuss these issues with you now.
If an IUD is something you’re interested in, start the conversation with your doctor. Don’t think that just because you’re young that you shouldn’t have one. They can be safe for teens, especially now with the introduction of Skyla. Do some research, ask questions, chat with your mom, talk to me.
What do you think about IUDs? Do you have one? Are you worried about getting one? Tell me about it in the comments!
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