The best of times, the worst of times: A year with the IUD
So guess what? The cost of birth control can get just as high in Lawrence, Kansas, as it can in New York City. I found that out last month when I traveled to the Midwest to report on dating in a college town. While I was there I spoke to Amanda Sanchez, a student at the University of Kansas who told me she pays $60 a month for the pill—which adds up to $720 a year! Um… I’m not down with paying that now, let alone when I was a broke college student (though I realize it’s still way cheaper than a baby).
Talking with Amanda reminded me why I decided to get a Mirena IUD. On average, the IUD costs about $1,000 every 5 to 10 years—sounds like a lot, but compared to the $3,600 to $7,200 Amanda will spend if she stays with the same pill for 5 to 10 years, it’s a steal.
This June marks my one-year anniversary with the IUD, so to celebrate I thought I’d share the 3 best—and, to be fair, the 3 worst—things about my experience so far.
Best #1: Money money money…
Yes, the upfront cost can be high*, especially for the uninsured like me: I paid $200 for the doctors visit, and almost $500 to get the IUD inserted—but since that initial cost, I haven’t had to budget for getting a prescription written and filled since. And that is a huge financial relief.
Worst #1: Cramps!
Growing up, I would hear girls in high school complain about having bad cramps, but I thought they just wanted an excuse not to do anything in gym class. I never understood how bad cramps could get since I never had them until I got the IUD. Let’s just say I get it now.
Best #2: Shorter, more regular periods
These days my period lasts 3 to 4 days max, whereas before I was a 7 to 8 day girl. And now I can always immediately answer the question every woman has been asked by a doctor or nurse: What was the date of your last period? It now arrives at the same time each month. I can set my watch by it! (Well, almost…)
Worst #2: 6 months in the red (and I’m not talking about debt)
It took over 5 months for those short, regular periods to kick in. For the first few months, let’s just say “Aunt Flow” would not go home. I’m talking 2 weeks at a time, with spotting in between. I was really worried at first, until a doctor told me its totally normal. And then I was merely not amused.
Best #3: Peace of mind
When you know you’re not interested in babies, there is nothing like not having to worry about pregnancy scares. I just came out of a pretty intense relationship with a guy who came with a lot of baby-mama-drama, and it felt good to already have my birth control method in place even before we had our initial “sex talk.” Bonus: it let the guy know right away that I’m in control of what happens to my body, and I know he respected that.
Worst #3: Getting too comfortable
When you’re on a super-effective birth control method and not worried about pregnancy, it can be tempting to make the dumb decision not to use condoms— especially if you trust the person you’re with and you’re in love. Unfortunately, getting pregnant is not the only thing to worry about. HIV/AIDS is all too real, and even the more manageable/curable STIs like chlamydia and gonorrhea can have some pretty nasty effects if left untreated. (Scary side note: I was just reading about a drug-resistant form of gonorrhea that has so far been identified in Japan, United Kingdom, Australia, France, Sweden and Norway.)
So as an anniversary gift to myself and my Mirena, I’ll be stocking up on Midol and condoms in preparation for another great year together.
*Up-front IUD costs can be high, but they aren’t always. If you’re wondering how much it would cost for you, Bedsider has more info about IUD costs depending on insurance and income and a free birth control finder widget.
Veralyn Williams is a Multimedia Freelance Journalist currently working in New York City. She has spent 4 years at WNYC Radio working with various departments including: Radio Rookies, Culture, News, and Freakonomincs. Also freelancing for Black Enterprise, BronxNet Television,Bedsider, and The Museum for African Art. Her independent work is featured on her website VeralynMedia.com. Through all of her endeavors she aims to give a voice to perspectives that are often forgotten in the media.
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