Why I Hated the Copper IUD as a UC Sufferer
Last updated: July 2022
Recently, I switched birth control methods from the pill to the IUD. The switch was mainly because of my blood clot, which had been caused by my UC flare. Doctors established that staying on the pill wouldn't be safe for me – and in fact, a few mentioned that maybe I should have been given an alternative birth control method once I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis to prevent the possibility of a clot. After some discussion, I landed on the copper IUD, Paragard, as my new method.
Switching birth control to IUD
There are Paragard users who really appreciate its benefits. It, like all IUDs, is extremely effective. It can also be implanted for at least a decade, if not longer. And, because the copper IUD does not have hormones, some users prefer it to a hormonal IUD. After all, some people would prefer not to put hormones into their body, while others have actually experienced symptoms like mood swings or weight fluctuation with hormones.
The Paragard wasn’t actually recommended first. My doctors wanted me to get a hormonal IUD method because I am on blood thinners for the blood clot. They were worried that I would bleed excessively, especially because my periods pre-pill were 6 to 7 days long and moderately heavy. I was worried, though, about the side effects I'd heard about with hormonal IUDs such as acne, which I struggled with a lot in high school. My doctor told me I could try the copper IUD and if it didn't work for me, we could always remove it.
Copper IUD with ulcerative colitis
It turned out that my doctor was right. The copper IUD has led to almost 10 days of bleeding, often so heavy that I accidentally leave stains where I was sitting. That, of course, may be because of my blood thinners. However, what really bothered me as a UC patient was the debilitating cramping.
For me, these cramps were worse than I'd ever experienced and they happened all throughout my cycle. When I had these cramps – which felt like a hand punching my insides – I noticed that I needed to use the bathroom even more than I do without the IUD.
Bleeding, cramping, and running to the bathroom
It can take up to 6 months for a person's body to adjust to an IUD. I gave it 4 months before I had to make an appointment for removal. When I told my doctor about these cramps, she told me there is a chance that cramps like this would persist.
She also told me that many people complain about excessive bathroom use during their regular periods because when the uterus cramps, it hits the colon, so it was no surprise to her that I was experiencing more stress and frustration with the IUD and with diagnosed IBD.
Exploring other birth control options with IBD
I appreciate that my doctors gave me the opportunity to take charge of my own contraceptive methods and try the copper IUD. I'll be changing to a hormonal IUD soon and trying that out, though. For me, having more cramping simply did not help my quality of life with UC, and I'm now glad that I'm taking the step to change methods so that I can hopefully reduce the need to go to the bathroom.
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