Why I got my Paragard IUD removed
I feel grateful to live in a country that allows me to choose any method of birth control that I wish to use. Having the information and access to all methods is truly the key to preventing many unwanted pregnancies. When I started birth control pills at age 18, I had the access to them without the knowledge of the artificial hormones I was putting into my body just to prevent pregnancy. Over the course of the next five years, I experimented with different birth control pills (watch more of my story here) until I realized these pills were making me feel pretty crappy. I regularly felt low grade anxiety, had dry skin, and was easily irritated by little things (especially around my period). When I shared my concerns with my doctor and how I felt it could be caused by the birth control pill I was taking, she brushed it all off and told me there is no scientific link to birth control pills and these symptoms I was having. This felt completely confusing and invalidating. Over the next six years, I was on and off the birth control pill not really knowing what my options were at the time.
Then in May 2015 when I was 29 years old, my friend's sister who was also a medical student at the time told me she has a copper IUD called the Paragard. She said it can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years and I can get it removed whenever I want to. After looking into it more, I felt like the Paragard was a good option for me since it does not use any artificial hormones to prevent pregnancy. The copper coil actually kills the sperm on contact so they are unable to reach the egg during intercourse. It was also nice to not have to worry about taking a pill each day. I made my appointment with my doctor to get one put in.
Prior to getting my IUD, I did hear about several side effects such as cramping for a few days to a week after getting it inserted and heavy bleeding. I was prepared for these and expected them. When I got my IUD put in, it did hurt a lot...sort of like a very sharp menstrual cramp or maybe like someone is squeezing something sharp right through the cervix. The pain wasn't long lasting and I did have heavy bleeding and some cramping but nothing I wasn't already used to with getting a period. I went home that day and just relaxed in my pajamas.
The next morning I was feeling less crampy and pretty good overall so my husband and I decided to go out for breakfast. As we got seated and I was looking at the menu, I suddenly started to panic a little. My mind was racing for no reason and I felt like I was losing control. I told my husband that I felt off and just needed to re-set really quickly. He looked worried and asked me if I needed anything. I said I was ok and we ordered our breakfast and tried to enjoy it. From that moment on, the racing thoughts were making me feel very anxious and I was worried because I never felt anxiety this intense before in my life.
That evening I was still feeling anxious and I tried all the natural techniques I could think of, from meditation, to breathing, to drinking wine (LOL). Nothing took the edge off. I decided to call my doctor to tell her about my symptoms and how I felt they may be linked to the Paragard. She got back to me within a few hours and let me know she was "not aware" of any possible side effects other than cramping and heavy bleeding. She told me she can prescribe me Xanax for the anxiety but that is all she could do. I felt helpless. I knew the anxiety I was feeling was brand new to me and it just so happened to occur at exactly the same time I got the Paragard inserted. I took a Xanax for the first time in my life. It took the edge off a little but I knew that I didn't want to live my life this way and something needed to change quickly.
I decided to give it another few days to see how I was feeling before I made any decisions to either talk to another doctor or get the IUD removed. I went back to work on Monday feeling just as anxious as I did over the weekend. At work I Googled almost anything related to the copper IUD and anxiety. I did find articles and discussion boards mentioning that the higher the copper levels in the body, the higher the estrogen levels and higher levels of estrogen can also be linked to higher levels of anxiety-- but nothing was studied or scientifically proven so I didn't get very far in seeking out information. After hours of searching online, I found a Youtube video of a woman that got her Paragard IUD removed due to high levels of anxiety and panic she was experiencing. FINALLY it felt so amazing that someone out there experienced similar reactions to the copper IUD that I did. After a few more days of elevated anxiety and getting fed up with taking Xanax, I made an appointment to have my doctor remove the Paragard. When I went in for my appointment, I was asked why I wanted it removed and I told them it was making me anxious. They told me they've never heard of that happening before. It felt invalidating at the time but I knew my body and I didn't need anyone else to make me feel like I was odd.
The day after I got my Paragard removed, my elevated anxiety levels went down drastically. By the following day, I was back to myself. That was further evidence that this was all caused by the copper IUD. I took a break from birth control for awhile and started to wonder about foods with high levels of copper in them. I learned that foods I commonly ate such as avocados, nut butters, lentils and other beans were also high in copper. While copper is an essential nutrient in all of our diets, I experimented with a lower copper diet and felt pretty good on it. I wondered if copper toxicity is a thing? A little while after I got the Paragard removed, I decided to try the Skyla which is a progestin only IUD. I ended up doing better on that one and ironically enough, that one has artificial hormones (even though in lower levels than the Mirena, but still). I ended up not feeling super great on that one either after awhile and decided to get that one removed about four months later.
Overall, I've been birth control free since October 2015. My husband and I just use condoms or the fertility awareness method. I've become accustomed to taking my morning vaginal temperature to determine what part of my cycle I am in and use that as an indicator on whether or not to have sex. Obviously if I am not 100 percent sure, we stick to using condoms. I feel wonderful not using any atricifial hormones or minerals in my body and finally feel like myself. After I had my son about three months ago, my midwife asked if I needed a prescription for birth control or an IUD. I told her no thank you. It feels liberating to me that I made the decision to get my IUD removed over three years ago. Something didn't feel right in my body so I honored that instinct and trusted my gut. I am a firm believer that everyone's bodies are different and we all react to things differently. The important thing is to trust yourself when something isn't working for you.
Do you have the Paragard IUD? What has been your experience with it or any other forms of birth control for that matter? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!