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Home / story of my life / My Experience with a Skyla IUD: 18 Months Post-Insertion

My Experience with a Skyla IUD: 18 Months Post-Insertion

This post is the final update in a series about my experiences with a Skyla IUD.  You can find the first post, detailing insertion, here;  the second post, three months out, is here.

Hi everyone, and welcome back!  Again, if you are a guy and you don’t want to read about shenanigans concerning my uterus, you may want to head off of here for this post.  Try back later!  But, ladies… one of my most-commented upon posts is my last one in this Skyla series, and an overwhelming number of you keep asking for updates!  So here it is!  Consider this to be my final Skyla IUD update, at least until I have it removed upon expiration in June 2018.

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Post-Insertion Periods

The number one question I get asked is about my periods now.  If you remember from my 3 Month Update, my periods were coming every 2-3 weeks; I wasn’t making it a full 28 day cycle.  I continued tracking this pretty diligently and I’m happy to report that right at about the one year post-insertion mark, my periods leveled off!!  They are now consistent and on time every month!

The Skyla statistics say that 30% of women see an increased frequency of periods, but it usually levels off within 90 days.  Mine definitely took a lot longer.  Now, I’m not going to break out my 2015 planner, but I’ll go through my 2016 one here for you and list the duration of my cycles:

  • February 2016:  19 days
  • March 2016: 23 days
  • April 2016:  21 days
  • May 2016:  17 days
  • June 2016:  28 days!!!

It stayed at 28 days on the dot until October!  In October I started bleeding again in the middle of the month — however, that was roughly one week after I went keto again (super low carb diet), and going keto tends to induce menstruation or at least spotting in many, many women.  I just began my period again today — two weeks later — which is right on time for my normal cycle.  My mid-October bleed was very light and only lasted a day or two, which makes me think it was just my body screaming “wtf happened to these delicious carbs, dude?!” and throwing a temper tantrum.  I bet I’m going to stay on track for here on out.  I will update and let you all know if my periods have permanently increased in frequency, but I am expecting that they haven’t.

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Cramping & Other Side Effects

I am almost VERY excited to tell you know that my cramps have almost completely disappeared!!!  In my last post, my biggest complaint was the intensity of my Skyla cramps… much stronger than any I’d ever really experienced before.  I also mentioned that I could “definitely tell Skyla was there.”  That has changed completely!  I forget I have it and my periods are extra painless.  I mean, sometimes there is some cramping… I think women will ALWAYS cramp to some extent… but they’re no longer painful.

This morning when I was cuddling with my husband, I complained to him that I was cramping, but that I couldn’t tell if it were period cramps or “I gotta shit” cramps!  You know what I mean, ladies… those low stomach cramps that are very light and may herald an impending period, or also just the need to eliminate last night’s bunless burgers and broccoli.

My period did just start, so I’m thinking it was that.  But also, I mean, I did drop a very satisfying deuce, so I’m still not 100% convinced :P

In Which I Remind You I Am Not A Doctor

I get a lot of questions asking if I think someone should switch their birth control to Skyla.  I feel like it’s necessary to make it clear to you that I am NOT a doctor or a health care professional of any sort, and I cannot advise you on what is best for your body!

However, I am very happy with my own Skyla.  We had a very rough start, but I’m so glad I stuck with her.  We’re pretty good homies at this point :)  I would encourage you, if you’ve just had yours inserted and are dealing with major cramping, to try to wait it out for a little while — my cramping definitely improved, and now my periods are completely back to normal.  But ALWAYS feel free to discuss this with your doctor.  If you think your cramping is too intense, or have any concerns, please call your doctor immediately.  It IS possible for Skyla to slip and perforate your uterus; better safe than sorry, in my completely unprofessional opinion!

Another major concern that has been expressed to me here is the fear of pain upon insertion.  Ladies, I’m not going to lie:  it was excruciatingly painful for me, as I described in my original post.  I don’t have a high pain tolerance, so if you do, YMMV.  I may be a bit of a pussy and that shit hurt.  HOWEVER, the pain lasted VERY briefly and even knowing how intensely it hurt, I would do it again in a heartbeat because this birth control is just so satisfying.  The peace of mind it gives me is incredible.

Also, as women we are used to a certain amount of pain in our nethers.  I can’t imagine that having Skyla inserted would be any worse than childbirth.  I mean, I don’t know because I’ve never had children… but if you do plan on eventually having children, I’d say suck it up and go for the Skyla because there’s no way having a little plastic T inserted could hurt more than popping out a 9lb squalling baby.  There’s just no way.

Which IUD Is Right For Me?

I am also asked this question a lot.  Now, I’m not up to date on current IUDs… I think there’s a new one called Lilette or something?  But when I began researching to decide which IUD I wanted, these were the main 3 with their selling points:

  • Skyla:  plastic, low hormone, lasts 3 years, good for women who have never been pregnant
  • Mirena:  plastic, normal hormone amount, lasts 5 years, good for all women
  • Paragard:  copper, no hormones, lasts 10 years, good for all women

If you want to go all-natural, Paragard seems to be what you want.  I heard a big con to it is frequent periods and a lot of cramping.  Supposedly that’s the IUD you’ll cramp on the most.  I am not afraid of hormonal BC and I didn’t want to undergo intense cramping, so I took Paragard off the table immediately.

Mirena is the normal IUD that I think most women have.  All of my friends who have IUDs actually have Mirena — both my childfree friends and my friends who have given birth.  Mirena has a higher dose of hormones that Skyla, but I wouldn’t say it’s “high hormone” or anything.  It has enough to last 5 years.  Many women report their periods vanishing completely on Mirena.  I don’t think my bff has had a period since she popped out her youngest, and he’s like in 4th grade now or something!

Skyla is low hormone and does not advertise women losing their periods.  It’s also not recommended for women who have given birth because it is slightly smaller.  That’s ultimately why I chose it — I’ve never been pregnant and I always have done very well on low-hormone oral contraceptives.  It’s also only good for 3 years.  I’ve been childfree my whole life, but my husband and I decided we’ll choose one way or the other by the time I hit 35.  Skyla will last me until then, and at that point I can decide on whether or not I want to give my rapidly-shriveling ovaries a chance to do what they’re meant to do, or I can have a Mirena implanted.  Actually, I’m really interested in the arm implant, the Implanon… so stay tuned, maybe I’ll review that in the summer of 2018 :)

Crunchy Hippie Stuff

Over the years, I’ve become more interested in alternatives to traditional period products.  Apparently, the average woman disposes of around 250-300 pounds of menstrual products in her lifetime.  That’s a lot of trash!  My husband and I are interested in being as green as possible within reason — we’ve switched to all LED light bulbs, we recycle what we can, we’ve set our Nest Smart Thermostat to “eco” for energy savings, we wash our clothing in unheated water — so I started researching other products.

I was really interested in menstrual cups.  I read a lot about them.  You may have heard of the DivaCup — it’s the most popular, though there are several brands.  However, I never quite pulled the trigger on buying one… it’s really hard to find them in stores, I never decided which brand would be best for me etc etc.  Now I’m glad I never pulled the trigger because I read that the “suction” from menstrual cups can help exert downward force on your IUD and encourage your body to reject it!

I’ve always tried to avoid scented and bleached tampons, but they’re actually kind of hard to find in-store.  I was really happy when I saw this Maya Rudolph video for Seventh Generation products.  One, it’s fucking hilarious.  Two, it showed me that Seventh Generation has unbleached, unscented, organic tampons!  Yay!  I ordered a box from Amazon and have been happy with them ever since.  The only negative thing I can say about them is that they have a cardboard applicator.  It’s not hard to insert, but it’s hard to “pop” the tampon in, you know what I mean?  Since there’s no special little plastic grip, you have to hold the end of the cardboard applicator and it’s kind of slippery plus I find myself often pinching it so firmly that the tampon doesn’t want to move.  I feel ridiculous, but it helps if I use both hands — one to hold and one to pull the trigger, so to speak.

Still, now that I’m on Skyla, my periods are uber light.  I really only use tampons when I’m being really active, like cycling or something.  I prefer pads just because I often find tampons uncomfortable with a light flow.  But let’s be real, pads are really fucking uncomfortable, too.  They’re like wearing a damn diaper.  With or without wings, I can never get them to really stick in my underwear.  They always move around.  It’s annoying as shit.  So I finally bit the bullet and ordered some reusable cloth pads.

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These are my actual products. You can see the Seventh Generation box; the tampon package is one of the long ones, not pocket-sized where you have to pop the applicator out to use it. Then there are my new reusable pads: the purple stars is still new in its wrapping and you can see how they fold up for storage, then you can look at the circles one to see how they look when open… the yellow bag is the waterproof bag they came with!

I haven’t used these pads yet — I’m about to try them out for the first time — but they’re really cute and really soft.  I figure that the wings snapping to each other will help hold them in place better.  I’m not afraid of soaking through them because, like I said, my periods are generally pretty light.  I expect I’ll actually be able to wear the same pad all day, so I won’t have to worry about changing them at work.  But the kind I bought came with a waterproof bag, so I can toss used ones in there and store them until I’m ready to wash.  I’m hoping to be able to do an in-depth review on these babies after this period.

Have any of you guys used reusable pads?  What do you think of them?

tl;dr

  • One year out, my periods regulated
  • My cramps are now very manageable
  • 10/10 would still recommend Skyla!

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(As a disclaimer, the products are linked to my Amazon Affiliate account. I’ve never used this before but I’m going to give it a shot and see how well it works. In theory, I should get a small kickback if you purchase the product through that link. Product costs are not increased for you, just Amazon gives me a tiny percent of the profit for sending you their way. Maybe I’ll get rich and can retire from this life of crime.)


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11 comments

  1. Wow, birth control has come a long way, baby! I never thought I’d be this pleased to be 73, but JEEEZ, your blog makes me feel rather smug. Back in the day, we took a pill every day, and some women were mothers because they forgot to take them faithfully. So this rig they stick up your wazoo takes care of the absent-mindedness, but yikes – your pain? Periods, still? If they’re going to jam sharp objects up your whatsis, the least they can do is make it stop the god-awful periods, no? Still, it must be nice not to have to worry about getting preggers for YEARS. And there are three gizmos, no less! You didn’t mention price…and would these be available in Canada?

    • There are more than 3 of them now, those are just the ones I heavily researched when I was trying to decide what to get!

      I went into pretty elaborate detail on insertion on my first post. The IUDs come preloaded into this gun-looking thingy, and the two arms of the “T” shape are down. Your doctor kind of shoots it up your hoo-ha, and when it pops out of the gun its arms spread out to lock the IUD in place, blocking the opening of your cervix and keeping all of those pesky sperm at bay. There are two strings that go up into each arm, and when it’s time for the IUD to be removed, the doc pulls on the strings and the arms straighten out so theoretically you can just slide the now-stick shaped item on out of there.

      My periods are WAY better on my IUD. The Mirena one usually makes periods fully disappear.

      I’d expect they’re readily available in Canada. Right now they’re currently covered under the Affordable Care Act – better known as “Obamacare” – and are 100% covered under insurance plans. They’re something like 99% effective and are absolutely the most foolproof birth control on the market.

  2. I started with the DivaCup because I hated/worried about the pain and likely microabrasions tampons gave me. (I have a fairly light period, so even “light days” tampons wouldn’t get soaked through and it made them awful to remove.) Pros: Non-abrasive, earth-friendly, better than choosing between shoving a wad of cotton up there or feeling like an onomatopoeic “blort” of blood is gonna escape your pad every 3-4 minutes. Cons: I think I maybe have a deep vagina? but you kinda have to get all up in your vagina to get the thing out. Like, if you’re not comfortable reaching up and touching your cervix, I wouldn’t recommend it. But since it should last you for the full day, you won’t really be doing that in public restrooms. Also, you have to squeeze the cup to remove it, which can cause some leakiness at the end of the day; but just be careful and you can prevent it. The suction-on-the-IUD thing may or may not be true (I am too tired of researching final papers right now to seek any peer-reviewed literature), but the whole purpose is that you break the suction before removing it. If you’re tugging the thing while it’s still sealed, you’re doing it wrong. Anyway, that’s my input. Sorry if it’s unwanted.

    PS: I just watched Prince of Egypt on Netflix and I cried the whole time. 10/10 would recommend.

    • Turns out I was wrong. I am never too tired to dick around. According to some original, early research, there’s no difference in IUD expulsion rates based on menstrual products used. The information pool is very scarce, though.

      Wiebe, E.R., and K.J. Trouton. “Does using tampons or menstrual cups increase early IUD expulsion rates?” Contraception, vol. 86, iss. 2, 2012, pp. 119-121. http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(11)00734-7/abstract

    • I know EXACTLY what you mean about the microabrasions — that’s why I don’t like using tampons very frequently.

      I wish I had research-based evidence for the IUD/menstrual cup thing. I swear I read that cup use was contraindicated in women with IUDs on my Skyla packaging, but I can’t find anything that supports that online. I do see where the DivaCup website USED to say that (but has since been updated) — maybe I read it there instead?? There are several anecdotes online of women finding IUDs in their menstrual cups, and I read some personal accounts of the cup tugging on the IUD strings. Of course, those are all individual stories and those don’t hold the same weight as peer-reviewed research!

  3. I’m glad I saw this blog, although I wish I saw it before I got Skyla inserted to prepare me haha! Anyways, I’m one week post insertion and I’m still spotting/mild cramping, so that’s annoying. My question to you, did you expierence any weight gain? I exercise 4-5x a week when I was on tri-cyclin-lo and counted calories and didn’t drop a pound. I’m just wondering if I’m going to have a hard time losing weight while on Skyla as well.

    • I think I said in one of the earlier entries, but I did retain some water for about a month after I had my Skyla inserted. One day I just peed constantly, though, and dropped about 10 lbs suddenly! So no, I didn’t really experience any weight gain. Just keep counting calories (make sure you use a food scale!) and drinking water and you should eventually “woosh”!

  4. So glad to have found this! I am about 8 months out on skyla and while my periods are relatively regular (28 day cycles) I got some spotting in between and I was starting to worry it was never going to regulate totally. Nice to know that it’s taken other women longer to regulate totally as well!

    • I definitely spotted here and there. But remember, I’m not a doctor, so it never hurts to contact yours if you have questions! :)

  5. Hi, have you experienced any hairloss with Skyla?

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