I had the best gynecology visit today. First, I had a seriously awesome doctor. Second, my nurse was fantastic, too. And third, I finally got my IUD put in, which means I have birth control covered for the next 5 years. Woohoo!
Huge shoutout to Dr. McNelis at Allina in St. Michael. You rock for being a great gynecologist, and even more for posing for this photo.
I’ve been wanting to get the Mirena IUD for quite some time. I’m not a huge fan of remembering to take birth control pills at the same time every day (well, maybe I would if they were made of chocolate), and I don’t plan on having any more kids any time in the near future, if at all. I looked into getting it last year, but my high-deductible insurance plan made it cost-prohibitive. When I added it up, it was cheaper to pay the monthly co-pay for my birth control prescription for 5 years than to pay for the Mirena. Ridiculous.
Thanks to some changes from the Obama administration, this year, getting the Mirena was covered at 100% – I just had to pay my office visit copay. At least, that’s what my HR lady told me when I asked about it. I guess I’ll find out for sure when I get my explanation of benefits. I anxiously awaited Jan 1, and then couldn’t wait to get my period (apparently it’s easier to place the Mirena if you’re actively bleeding.)
So, yesterday (Thursday) my period showed up and I finally felt like one of the girls in those “Happy Period” commercials – woohoo, I could finally go in and get it!! Plus, I’m going on a cruise in a week, and getting it now means I don’t have to worry about it showing up while I’m on the ship. Double win. Unfortunately, my regular OB couldn’t get me in until Tuesday. My cycle has been all over the place lately, so I wasn’t sure that would be soon enough. The receptionist checked all the other clinics, and that’s how I wound up scheduled with Dr. McNelis. Had to drive 45 minutes out of the cities to get to him, but it was totally worth it.
Of course, it wasn’t until this morning that it dawned on me that I should probably shave my legs and such since I was seeing a male gynecologist. I mean, you never know when your doctor could turn out to be cute and single, right? Hairy legs is not the first impression I want to make. I was going to pick out cute underwear, too, but then said screw it, I have my period, I’m cranky, and he’s not going to see those anyway because I’ll be undressed from the waist down when he comes in. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I mean, Dr. McNelis isn’t exactly my type, and he’s married, and he’s a professional that sees lots of vaginas every day.
I did, however, manage to embarrass myself almost as soon as I got to the clinic. After they checked me in, they sent me to go take a urine sample so they could run a pregnancy test. You all know how well I follow directions, right? I grabbed my little plastic cup and walked in to do my business. Of course, I got distracted thinking about something and before I remembered what I was there to do, went to the bathroom without peeing in the cup. Whoops.
Turns out I can’t pee on demand, so I had to walk shame-faced back to the nurse and tell her I peed, but I forgot to do it in the cup. She laughed and went to get me some water. In the meantime, I was bored waiting so I sent my friends a quick update. I obviously need to think more before I type, because I freaked them out.
I meant that I failed taking it, not failed at the results. Whoops.
Ok, back to my Mirena story for those of you that want to know what happens. First, schedule an appointment when you have your period. Second, shave your legs, third, make sure you actually pee in the cup. Next, talk to your doctor about what’s going to happen. Dr. McNelis was super awesome and drew a picture for me to show me how it was going to be placed in my uterus.
What can I say? I’m kind of a visual learner. He also showed me the actual Mirena IUD and insertion device.
It looks kind of big, but most of it is the tool used to insert it into your uterus. The black arrow shows the actual device that stays in you. This part:
They also read through a pamphlet with you about the Mirena, what it does, what the risks are, common side effects, etc.. An IUD has nearly the same effectiveness rate as actual sterilization, which is why I picked it. It’s easily reversible (you can get pregnant very shortly after removal), and it can lessen menstrual bleeding. In fact, Dr. McNelis said he sees an average of about 90% reduction in his patients (shorter, much lighter periods.) He said about 2-3 in 10 patients even stop getting their period all together. I’m not gonna lie – my fingers are crossed that happens for me. I hate getting my period and would love to not have to worry about that anymore.
After you go through all the facts and warnings, you undress and hop up on the table. It’s awkward, because you know it’s going to be messy and you have your legs up in stirrups, which isn’t a very attractive position for anyone. Hopefully you have an awesome OB that makes you totally comfortable, because they’re going to start getting into the procedure. First, they swab out the area to make sure it’s as clean as possible to reduce the risk of infection. Then they measure your cervix and uterus to determine how deep to place the IUD.
Sidebar: Here’s where I couldn’t help but laugh. I had mentioned the whole lost kegel ball thing to the nurse and that Get Off My Internets had written a less-than-flattering response to my post about it. So when Dr. McNelis told me that my cervix is exactly average length, I started giggling. I had to ask – in his professional opinion, was my vagina normal-sized? (several of the commenters from GOMI thought I must have an enormous vagina to lose a couple marbles in there.)
Well, it’s official – according to my doctor, my vagina is very average-size. And that’s coming from a guy that has seen more than his fair share.
Anyway, back to the insertion procedure. After taking measurements and adjusting the insertion part of the device, the doctor actually places the IUD into your uterus. There’s about 30 seconds of serious cramping, and then it slowly fades. I guess over the next few days there could be some sharp cramps, but he said it shouldn’t be anything worse than regular period cramps.
That’s it. Clean up, put your pants back on, and you’re on your way. No tampons for a day, use alternative birth control for the next week, and go back to being your regular awesome self.