What It's Actually Like to Get an IUD, According to 6 Real Women

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Zara

Welcome to The V, our weeklong series devoted to all things sex and reproductive health. This is a safe space free from "taboos," because there's no reason women should feel awkward talking about their bodies. That said, we'll be clearing up any misinformation on the subject, starting with this huge misnomer: The "V" in this case doesn't refer to the vagina, but the vulva, which is the anatomically correct term for external female genitalia (including the opening of the vagina). Stay tuned all week for need-to-know guides on birth control, tips for taking your orgasm to the next level, real-life stories about endometriosis, and everything in between.

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Original Illustration by Lauren Johnstone

When I got my IUD in July, I did a lot of research beforehand—like, a lot. I discussed my options with my doctor ad nauseam. I googled everything, and I pored over countless articles covering the general basics and the nitty-gritty details. But nothing appeased my thirst for knowledge on the subject—not to mention my pre-procedure jitters—more than hearing about the real-life experiences of women who had actually gone through it.

In this respect, my situation was ideal—I had a lot of friends with IUDs who were more than willing to get into TMI territory with me, all so that I might feel better prepared. But even as I ultimately learned that no IUD experience is quite the same as the next, I couldn't help but imagine how much more nervous I would feel without the anecdotal frame of reference I built in the weeks leading up to my implantation. And with IUDs trending in a big way after the election, now seems as good a time as any to pay it forward.

Since the fate of free birth control is questionable under the incoming presidential administration, many women are now scrambling to get IUDs in a preemptive way to make sure they're covered through the upcoming years, rather than taking a gamble on their reproductive health by playing wait-and-see. The rush is real: Planned Parenthood clinics across Massachusetts, for example, are reporting a spike at 16 times what the usual IUD demand is.

But whether you're part of the group booking appointments en masse or simply have a passing curiosity about what the procedure entails, again, hearing the stories of real women who've done it is invaluable to demystifying the experience—after you've versed yourself on the basics, of course. (Spoiler: It's not always pleasant, but ultimately, it's not a big deal.) Below, six women get real about what it's really like to have an IUD, from implantation to aftermath and beyond.