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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » EXPERT ADVICE » Ask Scarleteen » Backing up with IUD?

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Author Topic: Backing up with IUD?
dasea
Neophyte
Member # 109428

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I've had a copper IUD for almost 2 years, and I've been very happy with it. However, I had a minor pregnancy scare (a period late by a week from the average, though only four days or so from the absolute longest, but without most of the normal PMS symptoms I get, so it felt like it wasn't coming. It arrived just before I bought a test). Based on my alarm about that, I've been wondering if I should use condoms as well as the IUD; I do not want to carry a pregnancy to term at this point.

I'm studying abroad, which means a lack of in-person support (no particularly close friends here), potential language difficulties (although the standard of English is very high indeed) and uncertainty over insurance coverage for an abortion on non-medical grounds (I could pay out of pocket, though I'd rather not!), though I could probably manage an abortion if I had to. I'm using the copper IUD alone, which I have until now been very happy with. I'm aware of the high effectiveness rates of an IUD (99.8% perfect use, 99.2% typical use), but I'm wondering about backing up with condoms* to be even safer. Is this overkill, based on how effective the IUD is? Your advice (or thoughts about what I should be thinking about!) would be much appreciated.

Also, any advice on checking my strings and finding my cervix? I've never been absolutely sure of finding them. I think I can feel them sometimes, but I can't find my cervix to be sure (I know it's supposed to feel a little like the end of my nose). I have mentioned this to my GP, and he's said some women can't find them, so I shouldn't be concerned. I've certainly never noticed the strings getting alarmingly long or felt the IUD itself, so I'm fairly sure it's still where it should be! (I also have the occasional non-period-related cramp which I never had before the IUD, and almost certainly IUD-induced heavier periods FWIW, though obviously that's not at all conclusive.)

So, I'd love some thoughts, and sorry for the length! I can provide more details if you need them.

*Boyfriend (LDR) is fine with this; he's said it's my decision either way. STIs should technically be a concern, I suppose, as I believe he's only been tested for chlamydia, and I've had a swab check (no blood work; nothing was found, but I didn't ask what they tested for, though I know it included chlamydia - it was a routine check as part of an IUD fitting as emergency contraception, so a full STI check wasn't at the very top of my list of priorities). We are each other's first and only partners as far as I know.

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Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

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Hi Dasea and welcome to Scarleteen,

There'd be nothing wrong with you starting to use condoms. yes, the IUD is very effective. The nature of the IUD means there's not a lot of room for user error (which is why the difference between the typical and perfect use rates is so small).

None of that means you shouldn't use condoms if you'd feel more secure with them. [Smile]

Peace of mind is worth it's weight in gold!

One thing some people find helpful when looking for their cervix is to try putting their body in different positions, as that will change the angle of the vagina and their angle of reach. Squatting can bring everything a little lower (closer to the vaginl opening) which can help with location. other people may have more specific tips.

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Robin

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Redskies
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

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Hi dasea, and welcome to the boards.

Decisions about using a second method are about what each person needs to feel secure with the level of pregnancy risk - or lack of risk. It sounds as if you've already thought about what a possible pregnancy would mean to you in your current situation, and what options you would have for dealing with that. It sounds as if you're saying that you really don't want to become pregnant, but you feel able to deal with it if it happened - is that right?

You're correct that the chance of pregnancy with an IUD is very low, and you're also right that adding another method would make the chance of pregnancy absolutely tiny. It really depends what you feel most comfortable with and what you feel is best for you. If you want to read more about adding a second method, we have The Buddy System: Effectiveness Rates for Backing Up Your Birth Control With a Second Method
. Worrying or not worrying about a possible pregnancy can be a great reason all by itself to use a second method - both daily life and sex can get a lot less fun if we're concerned about becoming pregnant.

Did you have a check-up with the provider who inserted the IUD afterwards? If they were happy, and your GP is happy, then you can assume that everything is fine with your IUD. It's correct that not everyone can feel the strings, and checking strings isn't essential. It's a good idea for people who can feel them, but it's more about peace of mind than a necessary medical check - expulsion or movement of an IUD is extremely rare after the first few weeks.

We'd suggest you and your boyfriend get full STI testing when you can, just to take the best care possible of both of your sexual health.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dasea
Neophyte
Member # 109428

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Thanks Robin and Redskies; it's helpful to hear that I'm probably (semi-)worrying over nothing, but at the same time not being completely ridiculous doing so!

Redskies: yes to not wanting to become pregnant, yes to thinking I can deal with it. I'd seen the buddy system article (and thought about it). Yes also to a checkup, which was fine.

I suppose I feel like I should use two methods if I can because of some kind of sense of obligation (perfectionism?), even though in practice the IUD alone should be enough! And it has been enough for peace of mind until now, even bearing in mind the potential difficulties of handling an unexpected pregnancy. I think I just need to think about it a bit more (and then make a decision, even though I know I should always feel free to revisit it).

Thanks again!

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