It’s currently 7:45 p.m. on a Friday night and I have been an IUD user for only six hours. Today, I visited my gynecologist’s office at 1:40 p.m., having already been approved for full coverage of the device and procedure by my insurance company, to have my Kyleena IUD inserted. My gynecologist, who I’ve seen for two years, walked me through every step of the process, one that only took 5 minutes.
Was it comfortable? No.
Was it bearable? Yes.
Is five years of birth control worth it? Abso-fucking-lutely.
Why I Chose to Get an IUD
There are three reasons that led me to get an IUD, all of which played a different roll in my decision. The first reason I began to think about an IUD was that, after doing the math, I realized I had been on birth control for 10 years. Yes, 10 years. For those who know me, I am only 23-years-old. Just a few months after getting my first period, I was welcomed into womanhood with a painful and stubborn ovarian cyst. These cysts led to painful periods ands cramping. I was sent to a gynecologist who recommended starting me on birth control, to control the pain and bleeding. This is where my birth control story begins.
The second reason I toyed with the idea of getting an IUD was due to another medication I was, and am, on, where it is dangerous to get pregnant while taking it. I wanted an option that had a smaller fail rate than the birth control pills, which is around 6 percent with typical use (not perfect use) according to the CDC. The typical fail rate when using at IUD is only 0.8 percent.
The third and final reason that I decided to get an IUD was the election of President Trump. Having followed his campaign, I was aware of his desire to overturn Roe v. Wade and defund Planned Parenthood. While I am currently on my mother’s insurance, the future of healthcare in general under President Trump has yet to be seen. I, suffering from a pre-existing condition that disqualified me from getting life insurance not once, but twice, worry about what my access to general healthcare and women’s healthcare would look like in three years.
I decided now was the time to take my reproductive health and future into my own hands.
What My IUD Taught Me About Privilege
I know what you might be thinking. This is not, in fact, a horror story about how my IUD experience was a disaster, which usually makes for great blog material. My IUD experience was wonderfully uneventful. The appointment took no more than 20 minutes in total, only five of which was the insertion process. I walked out of the exam room, made my three-month check up appointment, walked out of the office and decided I would “reward” my slightly achey uterus with a caramel macchiato from Starbucks on my way out of town.
As I sat in my car, drinking my iced coffee on a sunny February day, I caught myself thinking about how I wished there was more coffee and less caramel in my drink. All of the sudden, I heard my subconscious voice scream out, “You’re fucking complaining about iced coffee when women all over the state of Iowa and country can’t afford the procedure you just had?!”
In that moment, driving down the highway in my recently purchased new car drinking a stupid iced coffee, I finally had a deep sense of what privilege felt like. As a white woman, I have always tried to be aware of my privilege and acknowledge it. This was the first time I truly felt my privilege and it was shocking and humbling. This feeling was strengthened all the more by the passing of a bill in the Iowa Senate judiciary committee to defund Planned Parenthood. The bill will need only 26 votes to pass the Senate floor, and is currently sponsored by 29 Republicans.
As I continued down the road towards home, I wasn’t interested anymore in my iced coffee or podcast. I was completely engrossed in how lucky and privileged I am. I was able to walk into a doctor’s office, knowing my IUD was covered and insured, meet with a woman who knows my full medical history, and walk out knowing I was set for the next five years in terms of birth control. So many women cannot say those words. So many women will never have that experience. So many women will not have control over their reproductive future for at least the next four years. So many women are rightly terrified.
What disappoints me about my own state’s ruling is that no federal or state funding goes toward abortion procedures or medication. What these people have defunded are pap smears, mammograms, cancer screens, STD testing for men and women, access to contraceptives, prenatal care and so much more. It is important to note that, as abortion is the main driver of this bill, people will still able to receive an abortion in the state of Iowa if they are insured or have thousands of dollars laying around in cash. The women and men who need access to all of Planned Parenthood services the most will no longer be able to receive them. The Senate’s new idea of access to birth control and abortion procedures will now include a high school nurses office and a dentist.
You may laugh, and you should. It’s funny because it is sadly true.
What Iowa Senate Republicans, and Republicans in general, fail to realize is that access to the services that Planned Parenthood offers, such as IUDs and other Long Acting Reproductive Contraceptives (LARCs), are the answer to reducing abortion rates, unplanned pregnancies and even memberships in federal nutrition programs and Medicaid.
IUDs & LARCs Give Republicans Exactly What They Want
In prepping for my own IUD, I listened to a podcast called “Stuff Mom Never Told You.” The episode was titled “FYI IUDs” and if you are thinking of getting an IUD or just curious about how they work, give it a listen.
This podcast episode brought up an amazing IUD and LARC experiment in Colorado that few people know about. I am here to change that.
Beginning in 2009, Colorado embarked on one of the longest running LARC experiments. Colorado asked the question, “If women had access to IUDs and long acting contraceptives, would they choose to use them?” The answer: overwhelmingly yes.
Thanks to a grant, provided by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (named for Warren Buffet’s late wife) the state was able offer IUDS or other forms of LARCs to teenagers, poor women and women under the age of 25 who had not finished high school free of charge. The birthrate among teenagers fell by 40 percent between 2009 and 2013. Better yet, the rate of abortions dropped by 42 percent! If that doesn’t speak to a Republicans pro-life agenda, I don’t know what will. There were very similar declines in birth rates and abortions amongst poor women and women under the age of 25 who didn’t complete high school.
As of 2015, however, the private grant money has begun to run out. While the Affordable Care Act will cover women looking for these types of LARCs, some plans require payments. Now, with the ACA in jeopardy, reproductive healthcare coverage is at risk. IUDs and LARCs can cost from $800 to $1000.
Not only did this longterm experiment lower unplanned pregnancies and abortion rates, it also proved beneficial to the state Medicaid program. For every dollar that was invested in LARCs, it saved $5.85 for the state’s Medicaid program, which covers around 3/4 of teenage pregnancies and births. Enrollment in the federal nutrition program also declined by 25 percent between 2010 and 2013.
To me, the answer is clear. To reduce the number of abortions, teenage pregnancies, federal nutrition enrollment and Medicaid costs, give women access to free and affordable birth control, whether it is the pill, and IUD or arm implant.