‘I was brave getting an IUD fitted today!’

Image by the genius Stuart F Taylor

Note that this post involves some graphic medical detail about injections and vaginal examinations during an IUD fitting.

The other day a woman put a big needle inside my vagina, and injected me three times in the cervix. I know you don’t like hearing this, my darling, but I really need you to know it. The other day, when getting an IUD fitted, I had three injections in my cervix.

It isn’t too bad, the IUD. The one I have is a copper coil, and it works better for me than any other form of contraception I’ve tried:

  • The pills that made my skin itch, and put me off sex for months.
  • The pills that made me weep for no reason, on a daily and sometimes thrice-daily basis.
  • The injection which made me angry then sad then angry then sad, until one day I sat in a doctor’s office with tears pouring down my face, begging him to just cut it the fuck out of me.

It’s OK, this coil. It’s fine. It doesn’t hurt every month, or change my hormones, or turn me into a sobbing wreck. But I did have to have three injections in my cervix, and for some reason I need you to know.

When we talk about condoms we both agree that they’re not the ideal solution: they’re pricey, and fallible, and they don’t feel so good. They can be sexy if we make them, but there’s no amount of sexy they can be if we forget them. So we don’t choose condoms, and I’m fine with that.

But the other day, in preparation for getting my IUD fitted, I let a stranger stick dry, gloved hands in my cunt, so she could rummage to work out the position of my uterus.

When we talk about vasectomies, or the thrilling prospect of an injectable sperm-blocking contraception, you wince as if such pain could never be endured. Maybe it couldn’t. Either way, a vasectomy isn’t an option: too permanent. Too frightening. Too much about you. So we don’t choose vasectomies or experimental dick-injections, and I think I’m fine with that.

But last week someone stuck a duck bill made of plastic in the entrance to my vagina, then jacked me wide open to get right in to the meat. I felt cold air inside my body, and the scraping of cotton on my cervix. I still feel echoes of that sensation if you ask me how it went.

She talked me through everything, as she was doing it. By the book, to the letter: this doctor did everything right.

But ‘right’ means I got jacked open, prodded and scraped, then stuck three times with a long, long needle, shoved right to the back of my cunt.

I’m fine with that, I just want you to know.

When I was a kid I used to get a sticker after I’d been to the dentist: ‘I was brave at the dentist today!’ And maybe that’s why I want you to know. Because it hurts, this. A lot. It’s humiliating and awful and I dread it. The whole thing is worth it in the long run – I’ve got ten good years in me now, during which I can fuck you without fear of getting pregnant. I’m overjoyed, and I made the right choice. I’m fine with it.

But something nudges at my brain, pointing out that you did nothing for this. You didn’t book the appointment, take time out of your day, take your pants off and hop up onto a table. You didn’t muffle involuntary screams during internal examinations, or feel the cold plastic of the duck bill thing that they use to spread you open. You didn’t have a long, long needle placed carefully inside, to inject anaesthetic in your cervix.

I’d never want you to have to do this, but need you to know. I want my fucking sticker, goddammit. ‘I was brave today while feeling that gross sensation of someone prodding with dry hands at the internal parts of my body.’

At this particular clinic, they have support nurses on stand by. Have you ever heard of that? I hadn’t. A kind lady stood by me while I got my IUD fitted. I lay there splayed and semi-naked, and she held my hand as I cried. I vowed I wouldn’t cry, of course, thinking my self-worth can be measured by how stoic I am in the face of pain. In the face of someone sticking needles in my cervix.

And I was fine. It hurt, I cried, I wobbled out of there shaking and clutching wads of tissue. I had a fry-up nearby because I was too weak to get on the bus. Then I came home and ached and bled, and wished I’d said yes when you offered to come.

Because we chose the coil, and I’m fine with that. I think I just want you to know.

And I want my fucking sticker.


  • Bee says:

    This is just wonderfully written and I think it something that’s too rarely discussed. I have my version in draft still.

    I’ve only ever had the mirena coil not the copper and I’m in awe you get anaesthetic injections. With the mirena it’s just straight in and stop complaining! Okay, I really need to get my post written.

  • fuzzy says:

    My vasectomy was the best thing ever. Sure I sat on a pillow on the couch and took vicodin for 3 days afterward, but that was just me having fun being a prima-donna. The actual operation was nowhere near as leg-crossing as what you just described.

  • Silvery Locks says:

    Yes, that totally counts as feminism. What women do in the name of contraception is usually minimised, whilst (some) men consider anything they might do as The World’s Biggest Deal.

    And fabulous stickers from Chainbear!

  • Limertilly says:

    I didn’t get anaesthetic when I had my IUS fitted a few years ago. But then, I had more pain from cramps than from the insertion, which I’ll admit was the *weirdest* pain I’ve ever felt. Cervixes really aren’t designed to be wedged open, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Someone said this on Twitter too and apparently I might have got the anaesthetic because I was having one coil removed at the same time as having the other one put in. But yeah the *weirdness* is a big thing, and possibly makes the pain more difficult to bear because it just feels so odd and alien and internal.

  • Seren says:

    Mine killed. I passed out before leaving surgery. They’d had ‘re inject the anaesthetic as the first one wasn’t in the right place?? (Junior doctors hey)
    Having it removed I lost an earring because i jumped and screamed so loudly.😬
    Us women deserve a medal, not a sticker!
    Although the weight loss and lack of mood swings were great. I

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    Honestly, this sounds so unpleasant I don’t think I could ever ask a woman to go through it. I hope he’s grateful.

  • Gingerpett says:

    Love the love you’re making here. love it. Good point, well made.

    Please can I totally make this comment about me now though?
    I have a coil. Love it.
    Didn’t get offered any anaesthetic when they put it in (or when they took it out because they’d done it wrong and had to put a different one in). I’d quite like a sticker too. And also to know where you went that gives you fucking anaesthetic cos that sounds awesome.

  • Cu2 says:

    Really beautiful piece of writing about a totally not beautiful experience. Thanks for talking about this.

    I got mine fitted a few months back and I tried to persuade the dr that I didn’t need anasthetic and, tbf, she made a really good atempt, but apparently my cervix wouldn’t relax enough without it. I’m not even sure why I was so keen to really feel all the pain, but I was. Even with the anasthetic it was pretty painful.

  • Pinkgilly15 says:

    Needs to be shared far and wide. Fantastic as always piece. I may write one on sterilisation now. Which I’ve had my Filey but was still a hard decision and jump through so many hoops to get. How it still twinges most days internally.
    I’m sending you a sticker 🤕

  • Cara Thereon says:

    I had my iud replaced 2 months ago and it was better than the first time. Seriously, Your recounting of your experience (minus injections because they didn’t do that) and my mirrored anxiety leading up to and during, makes me stand in solidarity. I want my sticker!

  • Jennifer says:

    I feel you soo hard.
    I had a string with copper bits pierced into my uterus. That lovely little accessories is called a gynefix. And is probably the best thing ever.
    But the first time I got it inserted I was soo scared and sooo mad at my boyfriend because I’m the one that has do endure getting needles stuck into me and a string jammed into my uterus.

    I was such a bundle of nerves in the end, that when the doctor poked the string into me I burst into hysterical tears even though it didn’t hurt too bad. Poor man thought he was butchering me. He apologised so hard while I was trying to blubber through tears that I was OK and it was just my nerves running amok.

    So when I came home and my boyfriend couldn’t even sympathise with me, I was a very angry bleeding rage monster. Also this was just one more drop in the barrel that made me dump him eventually. But at least I have a nice new way to keep my baby factory closed, that works exceedingly well for me.

  • Phillip says:

    I suspect that this is something that men can never know no matter how hard they try. This side of the ocean you get a gold star; a big one!

  • Jo says:

    Getting an IUD put in is easily the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, and I desperately want to share this with EVERY SINGLE MAN EVER who has insisted that a female partner should be responsible for contraception. I wish mine had worked out; I got a tubal because it didn’t (so happy with that choice!), but yeah… getting it put in (twice) was fucking awful. Thank you so much for writing about this!

  • Hazelthecrow says:

    The implant did the same to me. Having broken to taboo on talking about such things allowed the penny to drop, on finding out other family members also didn’t do well on progesterone. Then going and asking for it out was one of the most assertive, positive things I’d done for my body or my mental health up that point. I watched them dig it out; I was kind of sad to not be a cyborg anymore, but overall it felt great.

    Honestly, we have to start routinely treating hormonal contraceptives like the heavy psychiatric drugs they are, and making them one if the first things talked about when a ciswoman is unwell. Don’t get me wrong, they are one if the greatest inventions in the history of humankind and liberated us all so much; if one doesn’t suit a particular humans biology then another might be spiffing. But we have to treat them with respect.

    The mini pill was spiffing for me and I’d carry on indefinitely, but my most beloved likes to use condoms so I DON’T HAVE TO and just him being that responsible for his own gametes is sexy as fuck, so I think I’ll carry on with him indefinitely instead.

    Its all very invasive and all womb-havers deserve stickers for going through with any of it. The sticker for any speculum action is big and shiny, and cervix needles should get you a holographic badge that you can keep and wear forever.

    • Girl on the net says:

      “we have to start routinely treating hormonal contraceptives like the heavy psychiatric drugs they are” YES I couldn’t agree more with this. I was warned about physical side effects, and brief mention of ‘mood swings’ has been made about hormonal things in the past, but never ever ever has a medical practitioner explained the full potential horror of hormonal contraception that really doesn’t work for me. When I had the implant I wanted to claw it out of my arm. It was horrible, and I felt like a total failure of a person. Though I also got the sadness at not being a cyborg any more when they took it out =)

  • Northern Boy says:

    Somewhere I have a roll of “I was brave” owl stickers I bought whilst trying to date a doctor. They need a good home.

  • Laura says:

    It is extremely unpleasant. The last time I had mine done in 2018 I opted for the 10-year version, so it’d be a decade before I had to think about it again. BLAH. I do prefer the non-hormonal copper coil option, because even though I have extreme (and I mean hysterical, suicidal) PMS at least I can better predict exactly how I’ll be feeling each week. Even if it means I had a doctor rummaging around in my uterus and giving me a running commentary while I gripped the arms of the reclining couch till my knuckles went white. I’m going to feel terrible in ways that fuck up my personal and professional life, but at least with the coil I know exactly WHEN and WHY I’m going to feel terrible. Control, yay!

    There’s a lot we don’t know about how hormones and contraception affect women, and it absolutely is a feminist issue. Women’s reproductive health is poorly researched and understood in the scientific and medical communities because nobody wants to study it. It’s difficult, costly, and it’s not where the grant money is. I can’t count the conversations I’ve had with women that go something like “yeah, I tried that pill, and it put me off sex for 6 months, then that other one made me gain 4 stone and grow hair on my tits.” As if that’s all perfectly ok and not life-ruining. And don’t get me started on the perimenopause and having your life crash down around you in ways that’d be perfectly avoidable if only someone had said ‘Hey, you might want to get your estrogen levels checked.’

    Which is why we need to talk to each other, talk and talk some more, and normalize saying things like “sorry I can’t come to the pub today, I was too weak to get out of bed and my ovaries felt like they were on fucking FIRE. Rain check?”

    Sorry. Rant.

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