I should start by saying that this has never been an area I have felt called to share on. However, after having such an interesting awakening from my IUD experience I feel like it’s important to share about my thoughts and insights on the process I went through in order to encourage, empower, and inform other woman (and men) about the topic based on what I have learned through it.
My IUD Journey
Three and a half years ago I decided to get the Skyla (or Jaydess) IUD as it felt like the best form of birth control for me at the time. The first three years of having my IUD were practically flawless. I occasionally experienced spotting and could notice my hormones cycling throughout the month as most menstruating women do, however I never actually had a full period nor did I noticed any significant changes to my body or mood (aside from not getting a period). The “expiry” for my IUD was up around December 2018, so I got it removed that month. The removal went seamless and there were no major issues to report.
I decided I wanted to let my body “re-adjust” after getting my IUD out before I got another one put in. Much to my satisfaction I received my first period a few weeks following my IUD removal.
After going through 2 full menstrual cycles, I decided to get another Skyla put in, Feb 2019. Insertion was easy and similar to the last one. However, I noticed things starting to feel a little “off” a few weeks after insertion.
Here are some of the symptoms I frequently experienced with my second IUD:
- Constantly feeling super bloated and uncomfortable
- An extremely limited appetite on some days. Even after not eating for 18 hours my stomach would feel like a balloon ready to burst (I noticed this especially around the time I was supposed to be getting my period)
- Very tender breasts
- Rapid onset of anxiety
- Intense abdominal cramping
- Unexplained weight gain
- One of the most difficult parts: feeling completely out of touch from my emotions. I felt like I wanted to cry all the time and I often would break out into spontaneous tears. I started to feel confused and disheartened. I knew I truly was happy with my life, and the areas that I felt like I needed to improve upon, were certainly not enough to warrant inconsolable crying at least once a day
Once I clued in that all my symptoms were likely hormonal imbalances and related to the IUD, I decided to speak with a midwife who recommended I give it 6 months to let my body re-adjust back to the IUD. We decided if I was still feeling these symptoms after 6 months from the date I got my IUD in, then I would for sure remove it from my body.
As the months continued, my symptoms did not get better. In fact, a lot of them got worse.
I went to the doctor in July (the 5-month mark) and explained my situation. Not surprisingly, she advised against removal of the IUD. The doctor told me these were not often common symptoms of my Skyla IUD and suggested that I would likely regret my decision to remove it. This left me with a sense of guilt and irresponsibility for not accepting a perfect “empirically researched” birth control method. However, this wasn’t even the worst part of my doctors trip. Once I had convinced the doc that this was truly what I wanted, when she went to take it out, she wasn’t able to locate the device. Long story short, I had to go for an ultra sound to locate the device in my body. It was found to have migrated up my uterus and the strings had disappeared. This meant I would need a referral to a gynaecologist in Vancouver to get it out. Thankfully, the gynaecologist was amazing and so supportive and with some special tools and handiwork he was able to remove it. It was super painful, I experienced a lot of bleeding, and some intense cramping, but it was successfully removed!
Some Interesting Info
First of all, the Skyla IUD is created by Bayer (as are the similar and commonly used Mirena and Kyleena IUDs). For those of you who aren’t aware, Bayer is the same company who recently bought out Monsanto; who happened to be the world’s largest producer of glyphosate and “Round Up ready” GMO crops. This company is responsible for polluting the food we eat, along with our air, soil, and water with deadly toxins. Being so passionate about our food system and well versed in this information, I don’t know why in the world I would have trusted this company to create a device to be inserted into my uterus!
Secondly, I have spoken with handfuls of women who have had similar experiences to me with their IUDs. Not to mention the thousands of women who have, and continue to, sue Bayer for their extremely traumatic IUD experiences. Many of these woman experienced their IUDs migrate completely outside their uterus, causing severe medical implications! You can read about a few stories of these brave woman here: https://www.dolmanlaw.com/stories-women-suing-bayer/
I feel that although the possible side effects are stated, they are under emphasized. A lot of doctors will tell you that you’ll hardly experience any side effects at all, or like mine did, suggest that your experience with the side effects are illegitimate!
Why do I think IUD’s and other forms of Hormonal Birth Control are Problematic?
Hormones run the show in our bodies. We cannot alter them to the extent that ensures we aren’t fertile enough to have babies, while simultaneously expecting no harmful side effects. Even though many claim that the effects of the hormones from IUDs remain localized to the uterus, our bodies are too smart for this!
Menstrual cycles are a gift. Although they often feel far from this, I deep down know what a blessing they are. They’re the reason we as women can bring new life into this world. Not only that, but the changes in hormones that women experience throughout the month help them to be the driving creative forces that they are in this world.
Although in some ways, modern forms of birth control can be sexually empowering for women, in a lot of ways they are completely disempowering to the brilliance of the female body. They jeopardize our health, mental well being, and long term fertility. The birth control pharmaceutical industry has been male dominated for so long. This industry has been creating female centred birth control since the 1960’s (oral contraceptive pills to begin with) yet still have not come up with a viable male option! I think this is ridiculous given where we are at in science today. I am certain if the appropriate time and energy was put into designing a safe male birth control, it would absolutely be on the market.
I should also mention that the hormonal Birth Control industry has had highly corrupt roots from its earliest days. Back in the 50’s before the pill was out on the market, researchers tested on the woman of Peurto Rico. The laws were less regulated there compared to the United States and many Americans in fear of “over population” felt like it was the perfect community to target. They viewed these woman as, “hopeless, ignorant, vicious, and less intelligent than their American counterparts.” You can read more about the corrupt and tragic history of the birth control pill here: https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2017/9/28/the-bitter-pill/
So What Can We Do?
- We can stand up for ourselves! The more of us who are willing to stand up for our bodies and say no to these unsafe birth control options that alter our hormones, the greater the push there will be for the industry to create alternatives (with hopefully male centred options). If we exercise our voices to stand up for our own bodies, we support all the fellow women who do not have the voice to do so, given their circumstances.
- We can be willing to truly get in touch with our bodies and its needs. It took me 3 years with a “seamless” IUD experience and 6 months of a “destructive” IUD experience to realize how out of touch with my body I was because of this birth control option. One of the best things we can start doing is tracking our cycles. We can learn so much about the way we are feeling and the way we could be best spending our time and energy depending on where we are at in our menstrual phase.
- We can explain to men the issues. We can also choose to be with men who will support our birth control choices and understand the implications hormonal birth control has on our bodies. I am incredibly grateful for how supportive my boyfriend has been throughout this entire process and I think there are many other men out there who would be too.
- If you’re reading this and identify as a male who is attracted to females, you can be willing to play an equal role in being responsible for considering birth control options. You can support your partner in her decisions and take leadership in conversations around this topic.
- Finally, we can rest assured in knowing that there are other safe birth control options. We can track our cycles (I’ve heard the Daysy device is amazing for this), use condoms, or can look in to experimenting with other ways such as the cervical cap or diaphragm, that is, until there is a viable male birth control option finally out on the market too!
A few other things I wanted to note:
- What about copper IUD’s? Although they are not technically a hormonal form of birth control, I am still reluctant of the copper IUD. Copper is a trace mineral that we need in our diets in a very small amount, however I believe that despite claiming to remain localized, this excess copper is not good for our bodies. Just knowing the fact that it acts as a spermicide in the amount it is used within the IUD is enough for me to question its safety. Also, from a nutrition perspective our Zinc: Copper ratios are very important. If our copper levels are too high relative to our Zinc levels, anxiety and other mental conditions can manifest. The other point about the Copper IUD is that at the very bottom line, it is still a foreign object we are putting into our uterus and we run the risk of negatively affecting our bodies by inserting it
- This is just my opinion on the topic! I am not saying this is how it is for everyone and it is my sincere hope that no one feels uncomfortable or judged from reading this based on their birth control choices. If you have an IUD and love it, that’s great! I just wanted to share my lived experience. My hope is to empower women through this post to know that they don’t need to put their bodies through anything that they don’t want to!
- I also want to acknowledge the fact that in this post I am speaking mostly about those who identify as females and are attracted to males – however despite talking a lot about gender it is not my intention to discriminate against people who do not identify with a gender nor is it my intention to discriminate against those who are apart of the LBGQT community and might not resonate with this post
- I should also mention that I am a nutritionist but not a medical health care professional – this is my opinion and this article should not be used in lieu of professional medical advice.
Thank you for reading!!
Also a huge shoutout to my editor and best friend, Rhaya Howich for all her contributions to this post!