I fucking love Planned Parenthood, like when I make more money in my life I will be more than happy to donate and volunteer. Until then, I will take advantage of the wonderful resources they give me as a poor post-grad making barely enough to pay my own bills. However, today was the fucking worst. Excuse my French, but as more than enough PP employees can tell you this morning, I cursed like a sailor as my doctor tried inserting the IUD into my cervix the fourth time after realizing I have cervical stenosis.
I decided once I started dating someone seriously I would get on birth control again. After graduating college a year ago today I entered my first post-grad job thinking I was covered by my mom’s Blue Cross Blue Shield. So I made what I thought was a pretty rational decision and didn’t sign up to use my company’s health insurance. Even when the renewal period came back around in January 2017 I decided against joining our company’s health insurance because I was certain my mom’s would cover me. That’s when I found out I hadn’t been on her health insurance since last June. (That brings up a whole other can of worms of family issues galore).
I had just been at a concert at Mohawk in mid-Feburary put on and in support of Planned Parenthood where I heard a beautiful story of a woman in her late thirties. She spoke eloquently about how when she was 22, she had no health insurance and needed screenings and tests and birth control and Planned Parenthood covered all her medical costs. And now, she wanted to give back to the downtown clinic that helped her when she was stuck. I stood in the audience that night, inspired and touched by this woman’s story, determined to take control of my health. After getting my first ever car I booked an appointment to see a doctor at Planned Parenthood in two weeks. I was weirdly excited to go to my first ever appointment at PP because as an aggressive feminist it’s a great feeling to actually be involved firsthand in the things you are fighting for.
The initial appointment was amazing. When I was in college I booked two appointments (one in 2012, one in 2014) at the Baylor health clinic on campus to get birth control. I was treated with such disdain and criticism, as if wanting to take care of my sexual health was taboo. I remember my doctor gave me personal advice on my relationship at the time, not my health though, because making sure I followed God’s plan and did ‘rush things’ is more important than my actual health. I’m sure she gave herself a huge pat on the back for preaching her Christian dogma on abstinence post-appointment. Unlike those experiences, my PP one was amazing. My doctor didn’t give me her personal opinion on my relationship, nor did I have to take a well-woman exam or have my vagina examined. My doctor sat me down like the adult I am, asked me questions about my sexual activity and prescribed the pill for me for 12 months in less than 20 minutes. Easy-peasy. But, she encouraged me to consider applying to receive an IUD either free of charge or at a very low-cost. I was so excited that my doctor was so willing and even happy, to help me take charge of my health, despite not having health insurance. I applied and received the Mirena IUD in less than two weeks for free. The only thing I would pay for was the $150 insertion fee.
And then insertion day came. I had prepared myself mentally for it as I had heard from blogs and podcasts from women who had/have it that it really depends on the woman. It can hurt as much as childbirth or it can be a small pinch, like having a cramp. Yeah… fuck that last one. I was fairly nervous as I have had such bad cramps that in high school and college I would have to stay home because they hurt so much. Knowing this, I had a feeling this was going to be some of the worst pain I would ever feel. But I was ready, and the insertion was only two minutes, if I can handle two minutes of pain for six years of no periods and 100% birth control coverage, I can do it I told myself.
After seeing how nervous I was the doctor called in another person to hold one of my hands. I laid back on the exam table, spread those legs far apart, felt the very cool touch of the doctor’s cold gloved hands on the outside of my vagina and then she said, “Here we go.” First it was fine, just felt like a cold tampon was being put in me. She said she was cleaning the inside. After that came the measuring stick. That made my heart race, it hurt so much, despite having her countdown and telling me to cough. Next was the actual IUD. She did the 3, 2, 1, cough countdown but that was the most intense cramp I ever felt. Cramps usually pulse, they don’t last more than a few seconds so even though a cramp hurts, the pain goes in short waves. This was like I was being drowned in a wave of continuous cramp. I started to get sweaty, as if I was having a hot flash. My body felt overheated and I was breathing way too hard. My heart was racing and my head felt light. I didn’t think I could handle it. She said my cervix was giving her trouble so she tried again. Oh my dear god, I banged my hand against the wall and let out a scream. I moved my head around and was extremely dizzy. I had gone from calm but under pressure to on the verge of passing out any second. The pain was unbearable. She said she tried three times and she was going to try one more time. I cried while saying, “Ok but after this please stop.” She looked at the woman holding my hand and told her to go get an ice pack to put on my head. She tried one more time and I screamed “FUUUUUUCCCK” and then “STOP!” And she quickly pulled out the insertion tools. I laid back while she helped me to stop shaking and got ice packs to stop the hot flashes. I was given water and a Kool-aid pouch (which I thought was awesome) and eventually sat up. She left the room, trying to get a Skyla for me. (Skyla is another IUD but is smaller and only lasts 3 years, instead of Mirena which lasts 6).
She came back and we had a talk about what happened. She said I had cervical stenosis, which is not a big thing, just that my cervix is very small and the Mirena was too big for it. She said she tried to get me a Skyla because she was sure it would fit. She said I would have to apply again to get the Skyla and that she would explain the situation to the company covering the costs of the Mirena. She had tried to get it for me when she stepped out, but I wasn’t covered for the Skyla, just the Mirena even though she was certain I would be covered again. I was also supposed to pay $150 there for the insertion costs but because of my situation, she said PP had funds to cover my (non) insertion fee. I almost cried at that.
I went back to my boyfriend who was waiting patiently in the waiting room for over an hour and then I told him what happened. And how traumatic that was. Although I know he is sympathetic, I truly don’t think guys will ever get it. From what it seems like to me, guys think it’s just a thing going up your vagina, that doesn’t hurt. No. It’s not going in our vagina, it’s going up a tiny cervix, into the uterus, and the pain is insane. Just because it’s a hole, doesn’t mean I don’t feel anything up there. Something is being fucking INSERTED into your body where it shouldn’t be. Our bodies are made to be how they are, not with plastic and cloth being shoved up there. It’s insane what women have to do to protect ourselves from potentially ruining our lives. I mean that only in the sense that it applies to me. Maybe it applies to you too, but having a child right now would RUIN my life. But do we see guys finding out ways to protect themselves from having babies? Do they insert plastic, copper, cloth, apply patches, or reroute their hormones with a pill? It’s absolutely insane to me that men would ever get to make decisions about my health. Which is why when my doctor told me that PP was covering my costs with their own funds I almost cried. How could anyone want to defund something so great so women, half of the fucking human species????
As far as the rest of the day went, because nothing actually was up there, I had very light cramps, but yes, I still had cramps, and my body was very bloaty. I applied to get Skyla put but am honestly very nervous about this next insertion, whenever it may be. I don’t ever want to feel that pain again, especially because I was on the brink of passing out. The doctor said this has happened to other’s but, for most women she’s had, the IUD goes in. Bodies are different and must be treated like so and I cannot thank PP enough for being patient and kind and supportive of my health. I will continue to use the pill as it’s been effective for the past month and a half, but I would like to have no periods and not bet on myself to take my birth control on time every day.
The IUD is not for everyone, but it’s for most. Hopefully the Skyla will be able to fit but if not, it’s obviously not the end of the world, it’s just important to take care of your body and do whatever you can. #istandwithplannedparenthood #soshouldyou