On Skyla

Welcome to the inner (way inner) workings of Breanne’s life (uterus). Shit is getting ready to get real, you guys. This might be a little TMI for some of you… dad? Relatives? Stop reading now. You can spend your time over here instead.


Having been on birth control for more than 10 years, it’s just something I deal with. Through the years, I’ve been on several different types of pills as well as, most recently, NuvaRing. I realized lately that currently in my life, I’m not wanting to have any babies, and I don’t see that changing any time in the next few years. After one of my friends had a baby she had an IUD inserted, which seemed like a cool idea, so I began looking into that as an option as well. Many bandwidths were consumed by my IUD research. While Mirena is the top hormonal IUD choice (there’s also a non-hormonal option made of copper, but you know how a penny smells? I can only assume it’s the same. Ew.), there is now a newer IUD called Skyla, made by the same company. Mirena is a few millimeters larger than the Skyla, so the Skyla is supposed to be better suited for younger women or those who haven’t had their junk all stretched out by carrying babies in it. Mirena is also good for 5 years and Skyla only 3. Three to five years without having to worry about birth control daily or monthly? Sign. Me. Up.

In any case, this blog post isn’t to tell you facts about IUDs and how they work. This is to fill in the gaping hole in the internet (insert joke about the gaping holes on the internet) that I found regarding just how the insertion procedure is, what it’s like, does it hurt, and all that. I asked a lot of questions, so hopefully some of this will satisfy anyone looking for answers. Opinions and testimonials were what I was looking for, and I found very few. So here’s one to add to the mix.

After I had talked to my doctor and decided that Skyla was a better option for me than Mirena, the girls at my doctor’s office sent some paperwork my CVS, who then called me so I could give them a copay. The Skyla was ordered and shipped directly to the doctor’s office, who then called me when it came in. I was directed to wait until my period started, then to call them so they could make an appointment and insert it during that time. Gross. But apparently, since your cervix is softer during your period, the insertion (I hate that I keep having to type “insertion”) is supposedly less uncomfortable. So, I waited, then I called and made my appointment.

Before I went to get that IUD popped in, I read as much as I could find online about what would happen during the procedure. I thought I was fairly well prepared. I took some ibuprofen an hour beforehand, as recommended by internet and one of the nurses I had spoken to, because apparently this discomfort was going to suck. When the nurse practitioner (who would be doing the procedure) came in, she explained to me the process. She would first feel around for the size and position of my uterus. Then I’d get speculum’d up and she’d clamp my uterus in place (because apparently it tends to shy back like a little bunny, that is, if you tried to shove an IUD through a bunny’s face). I would feel a pinch. Then she’d insert a tiny ruler-type thing (called a sound) to see exactly how large my uterus was. If it was within a certain range (6-8cm, I believe?), the Skyla could be inserted no problem. This would cause a cramp. Then the actual IUD would be placed, which would cause more cramping, then VOILÀ – done! I was feeling good. I was prepared. I knew what was going on, step-by-step, which calmed me down. Then she told me it’d be her first Skyla insertion! This did the opposite of calming me down. I think my actual response to that was “wait… what?” She assured me that she’d been placing Mirena for almost 10 years, and that it was virtually the same. That made me feel SLIGHTLY better about it. She asked me if I understood everything that was going to happen, I told her yes, and it was go time.

She felt around for my uterus and squeezed it or whatever it is they do in there. No big deal on that one for anyone, since ladies are supposed to go to the gyno to get manhandled (ladyhandled?) once a year anyway. Then came the part that was going to pinch. I was focusing on the butterflies pinned on the ceiling (are those supposed to make me able to ignore what’s going on *down there*?), breathing calmly, readying myself for a pinch. What instead happened is that I screamed. Well, it was probably more of a screechy yelp. That. Shit. Hurt. It’s good that my feet were in the stirrups, because I was probably THISCLOSE to kicking her right in the face. What ended up happening is that I instead pushed myself up the examination table about 5 inches. Oops. I felt bad for whoever was waiting in the room next to mine, as I probably put the fear of doctors into them. In any case, I had been clamped successfully. I apologized to the nurse. She told me to scoot back down to the end of the table and told me I wasn’t allowed to do that again. Right, ok.

Step two: measure some stuff. This was important to get an accurate reading, because if your uterus isn’t deep enough, the IUD has to be inserted a different way. I breathed and stared at my friends, the Ceiling Butterflies. They could see the fear in my eyes. Nurse warned me that she was getting ready to put the sound in to determine that everything could go on as planned. I was kinda hoping it wouldn’t, because OUCH, but figured I was already almost halfway through so I might as well keep on keepin’ on. Well, this was more pain, but with 500% more cramping. Now, take this with a grain of salt, because I am lucky enough to not have cramps accompanying my periods. Maybe this is how awful they are. Maybe if you cramp heavily, it wouldn’t be as bad for you. Well, for me it sucked. My conversation with the nurse during this time was a steady stream of me telling her “OUCH OUCH OUCH OOWWWWW OUCH OUCH OUCH!” while trying to keep my legs relaxed enough that I didn’t shoot myself up the table again. Once she verified that everything was ok, size-wise, she removed the sound and the pain was gone (aside from the continuing discomfort from the clamp). I asked some questions at that point, but I don’t really remember the answers, as I was a little dizzy (was I holding my breath?) and not feeling quite up to par.

For the next part, the actual device insertion, she told me that I *really* couldn’t wiggle this time… apparently though I was trying so hard, I was still writhing/twitching in pain a bit. I focused. I tried so hard. I think I still moved. This time was a little worse than the sound, but really, it all just sucked. I had about reached my threshold where all the pain was the same. I think this was slightly worse though. The insertion device was a small tube that was inserted, then the IUD inside it was pushed up and into the uterus. And again, once she took that tube out, it was INSTANTLY better. The nurse asked me how I was feeling, and I probably said something vaguely noncommittal. She trimmed the strings (left in the uterus to aid in removal when it’s time) to where they should be so they were unintrusive and unclamped me. A wave of relief passed over me, and though it had only been 15 minutes or so, I was exhausted. So, don’t plan on going back to work after this one, ladies. She had me sit up after the color returned to my face, and I did… very slowly so as to not have it stab through my insides (note: pretty sure that can’t happen). I left after asking a few questions, drove home still a little shaky, and took myself a little nap. After the nap, I went out and had some drinks with a friend, as planned. Good as new!… although I was still a little concerned that moving or turning too quickly was going to shoot the arm of that thing through my belly button (after further research, I have found that it doesn’t work that way).

The aftermath:
After a month, I had a followup appointment where the nurse checked to make sure that everything was still in place. There are instances where the IUD can come out on its own, or where it can poke through the wall of your uterus and move on out, which of course is what I was sure was going to happen to me. During my checkup, though, I found that everything was just fine.

Since the first few days (it’s now been nearly a year—talk about procrastination in posting something, eh?), I’ve had no irregular bleeding, no cramping, and basically no periods – only light spotting for a few days on the week of. I’ve had no weird mood swings, no change in skin from what was happening with the Nuvaring, and no adverse side effects that I’ve recognized. Basically, it’s pretty awesome and I can’t believe I didn’t figure that out until just last year. If you’re thinking about getting one, I definitely recommend going through with it. The temporary pain is totally worth not having to worry about anything for several years. In any event, good luck with keeping babies outta those baskets!