I have a friend who swears by the coil. Her recommendation of it, along with my GP’s description made me want to try it. I knew the Pill wasn’t for me, maybe this would be better? ‘It’s what all the young girls are trying these days’ apparently…
Unfortunately it wasn’t for me. After exactly one month I had the coil removed, due to the adverse effects it had on my body. During this time I wondered why I had inflicted this upon myself. It got me thinking about how and why women have to deal with what I call ‘contraception woes’. We’re given very limited information and end up experimenting on ourselves looking for something that will have the least side effects. I wrote this piece not as a deterrent, but because my month on the coil was scary af and reading someone else’s experience would have given me some reassurance at the time.
The coil is a T-shaped device which is inserted into a woman’s womb to prevent pregnancy. There are two types: copper coil (IUD) and the hormonal coil (IUS). I tried the IUD TT380 Slimline, which is inserted into the womb and lasts up to 10 years (if it’s not removed, dislodged or infected). In comparison to the Pill, after insertion the coil isn’t something you need to remember. It’s there doing it’s job and you don’t have to worry about it. I chose the copper coil over the hormonal coil because its said to have no effect on your hormones. I wanted something that wouldn’t mess with my emotions the way the Pill did.
My GP explained the process to me beforehand, the pain and the possible side effects. I was told to take painkillers and rest after the insertion, but I wasn’t prepared for the immense pain which consumed my body that day, and everyday after.
The coil is inserted through the cervix, which is opened slightly, and then placed into the womb. The pain of insertion was the most excruciating pain I’d felt in my entire life. She told me my cervix was opened 3mm, a fraction of the size required for childbirth. Luckily it was all over very quickly, but I was in complete shock and once the device was firmly inside me I suffered severe cramps for the rest of the day.
But it was in. I’d gotten through it, right?
I had chosen the coil knowing that it might change my period flow. According to the NHS “your periods can be heavier, longer or more painful in the first 3 to 6 months after an IUD is put in. You might get spotting or bleeding between periods.” I knew what it felt like to have irregular bleeding after my first attempt with the Pill. It couldn’t be worse than that…?
“Most women who stop using an IUD do so because of vaginal bleeding and pain, although these side effects are uncommon.” (NHS)
I bled heavily everyday.
Two weeks into the coil and I started bleeding heavier than I’d ever had on my period. I started to leak through my clothes. The first day it happened I was on the tube, commuting home from work. I was in so much pain I felt faint, and I felt a heavy release downstairs. I was confused. I was wearing a tampon but I felt wet…
When I finally got off the tube I rushed to the loo to find I had severely leaked through my tampon, pants and trousers.
I was in shock and felt disgusting. I’d never seen so much blood there before. And it didn’t stop. Everyday the same thing would happen. Strangely enough it always happened around 5pm, and so rush hour became my gush hour. Another occasion I was out having Nandos with some friends when I went to the loo and saw my trousers were stained once again. Tampons became useless. After that I started wearing nighttime pads during the day. But even then, they filled up so quickly I had to change them every 2 hours just to make sure I wouldn’t leak again. I was constantly worried about the amount of blood leaving my body and whether it would spill over.
On top of that, I was in agonising pain. During a normal period I have pretty bad cramps and body aches. I know what bad cramps feel like. But the pain I experienced on the coil was completely new. Sharp pangs would strike randomly during the day. Long and intense. The irregularity of the pain would always take me by surprise. One minute I’d be thinking it’s finally working, I’m ok today, then the cramps would hit back like
BAM. SURPRISE BITCH. ME AGAIN.
Sometimes I wondered how I was going to get through the working day without curling up in pain under my desk. It became harder to concentrate and I was struggling to cope. I started taking stronger painkillers like co-codamol – but you’re not meant to take these for longer than two days and nothing really helped anyway.
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to give up on the coil. It hurt so much going in, and I knew women suffered from spotting in their first month – but this?! I was hoping it would fade away after a few weeks but the pain was agonising and the heavy bleeding made me feel weak and abnormal.
When I explained the frequency of my pains and the level of bleeding to my GP she advised we take it out. Sadly it didn’t hurt any less on the way out as it did on the way in. She checked the device over, there was nothing wrong with it. It was in the correct place and wasn’t infected, it just didn’t cooperate with my body.
After it was removed I cried, in pain and relief.
I know the coil works for some women, but it took a lot out of me that month, physically and mentally. I wasn’t prepared for the havoc it wrecked on my body. I thought taking control of my fertility and trying a different method of contraception was a good idea. But after 3 months and 3 failures I’d had enough. Enough bleeding, enough pain and enough misery. Eventually I returned to the traditional method of contraception, condoms. I’d advise anyone thinking of changing their contraception to really consider whether it’s necessary and what you’re willing to go through for it.
If something works for you, stick to it.