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A Hormonal Coil

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got The Coil

Thinking about making the switch from condoms to hormonal contraception? If taking a contraceptive pill every day is a little more faff than you’d like, the coil might be the answer. I first got the Kyleena IUS Coil when I was 20 years old, and was told virtually nothing about it by my doctor before it was inserted, apart from “it’ll last you a while” and “it’ll help you with your heavy periods”. This alone, plus the over 99% effectiveness rate, had me totally sold. In fact, my knowledge of the coil pre-then was basically all horror stories from friends and the basic information shared in sex education from school. So, here are all the things I wish I knew before I got The Coil…

1. Take the spooky stories with a pinch of salt

Ever heard the urban legend about the woman who got pregnant whilst she had a coil and the baby came out gripping the coil like a trophy as it came out? What about the one who decided to rip it out herself and damage her womb permanently? Throughout my lifetime, I have heard so many scary stories about the coil (although I've never seen any evidence), don’t let it put you off. I’ve had friends who absolutely love the coil and swear by it, and friends who hate it. The lesson here is: everyone is different. If you think the coil will suit you and your lifestyle, that’s entirely up to you.

2. You can get the coil if you haven’t had a baby 

The main reason I didn’t get the coil initially was because I was told by the older women in my family that it was only suitable if you have had a baby, as your cervix needed to be ‘stretched’. This isn’t true at all. There are actually many different types of coils, each one being suitable for different people. You can get the non-hormonal copper coil, and the hormonal coils. Within the hormonal coil range, there's different brands; all ranging in sizes, and the levels of hormones released.  

I hit up our co-founder Dr Sarah Welsh, who has inserted many a coil in her time, for an expert overview. These are the key differences:

So, you can either have the Non-Hormonal Copper Coil (IUD) which is a T-shaped frame wrapped in copper wire. When copper is released into the womb, it can prevent sperm mobility, egg fertilisation, and egg implantation. It can last up to 10 years, and as it’s non-hormonal, many women find there are not as many side-effects. However, it can cause heavier or prolonged periods. Another option is the Hormonal Coil (IUS), which is a small T-shaped frame that slowly releases the hormone progesterone. This can thicken the cervical mucus (which stops sperm from getting through) and thins the womb lining so an egg can’t implant. Because the Hormonal Coil releases small amounts of the hormone localised to the womb, the benefit is that there are not as many hormonal side effects as some of the other forms of hormonal contraceptives. The IUS can last anywhere from 3-8 years, this depends on different types i.e. Mirena, Kyleena, Levosert, and Jaydess. The different types also vary in hormone release rate and size, so it’s best to discuss this with your health practitioner to decide which one is best suited to you.” 

3. Make sure you take painkillers before your insertion 

I wasn’t advised to take painkillers beforehand, and as I have quite a high pain tolerance, I thought I’d be fine. I was wrong, and I was underprepared. Yes, the insertion is not great. I felt a sharp pinch followed by some intense cramping, and then some dull period-like cramps for the day after. But if you prep ahead, take a painkiller and have a hot water bottle ready at home, you’ll have a far more pleasant experience. There are many places that now offer anaesthetic for the procedure, so if you are really worried, you can request a nurse who is trained in administering an anaesthetic beforehand. 

4. You can still get your period

Now, this may differ by what coil you have, but I was always told by my friends that the coil stopped your period completely, especially if you had a hormonal coil. When I first got my coil put in, I spotted (light bleeding) non-stop for around 3-4 months, but after that things began to settle andI started to spot at roughly the same time every month. I now know this is because the coil I have (Kyleena) releases one of the lower doses of progesterone, I still ovulate and have periods, only it’s incredibly light. This is because the hormonal coil thins the uterine lining, so there’s not much lining to shed when it comes to menstruating. Because it can be a bit harder for me to know when my period is, due to how light it is. I typically track my mood/symptoms using a period tracking app to help me figure out where I am in my cycle. Instead of using tampons and pads, I usually opt for a light flow period pant around the time I’m due on, or even use a handy panty liner.  Again, this is something that may vary person to person and is dependent on the coil you have.

5. Getting it taken out is super easy 

What goes up, must come down. One thing I really worried about was  that it would be really difficult to get the coil taken out if I didn’t enjoy it, but I couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, taking the coil out is far easier than getting it put in - it takes less than five minutes. The nurse will ask you to cough and they’ll pull it out your cervix? as if they’re taking down a particularly small umbrella. So, if you do decide to get the coil and you find it doesn’t agree with your body, your healthcare practitioner will be able to remove it very easily. 

 

Would I recommend the coil?

Despite personally finding the experience of getting the coil inserted rather painful,, I would recommend the coil. I like the idea of having a ‘set it and forget it’ form of contraception. Since having it, I have not once worried about getting pregnant or even once thought about my method of contraception. It lasts for five years, and I love the sense of freedom knowing I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant when I don’t want to. Whilst I know some people do experience side effects such as…., this hasn't been my experience if so, they’re really quite minimal comparison. My key advice?

  • If you are considering the coil, be open-minded and discuss it with your doctor, friends, and family
  • Be prepared that the insertion may be uncomfortable. Know that you can discuss your worries with your doctor, and if you believe you require accommodations  that will make the procedure more comfortable, feel empowered to speak up and advocate for yourself.
  • Bring a friend or family member to the appointment! Someone who will drive you home afterwards and sort you a hot water bottle when you need it.

 

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