PSA: An IUD Horror Story (long)

(Background: Prior to this I had the exact same copper IUD for 4 years with absolutely no problems).

This all began when I had my old copper IUD replaced with a new one (a 5 year copper IUD) in mid February of this year. The procedure was very simple, the doctor simply pulled the old one out and inserted the new one. There was a little bit of pain but it wasn’t too bad and the whole thing took less than 20 minutes. I felt great as I left the clinic as I had such a positive experience with my previous IUD and assumed it would be the same this time.

Unfortunately, things started to take a turn when I had my first period. I knew it was coming as I could feel the cramps starting so I prepared myself for quite a heavy flow (to be expected and completely normal for the first few months after IUD insertion). Because I expected this, I was quite prepared in that I was wearing a GIGANTIC pad and had a spare one in my bag. My period, however, seemed to be quite light. I continued with my day thinking maybe this time around it wouldn’t be as heavy as my first IUD. I finished work and was on my way to do an exam, for which I had to travel on public transport for about an hour and a half. First I had to take a bus, then 2 trains. I stood up to get off the bus and that’s when I felt it. A sudden GUSH of blood. I panicked but kept walking towards the train, hoping to find a bathroom. There was no bathroom. I looked around and couldn’t find anywhere I could go and sort myself out. So I decided to get on the train for the 10 minute journey and hope there would be a bathroom on the other side. There was no bathroom. Again, I reassured myself and decided to just check when I got to the exam centre. As soon as I arrived I ran to the toilet. As I sat down, huge blood clots the size of three fingers came out as well as huge amounts of blood. My underwear and a good part of my jeans were stained red. I changed my pad and ran to 7-eleven to get supplies to clean up. Luckily I was wearing dark blue jeans and a black hoody that covered my bum. In the toilet again, I cleaned up as best I could and had to run to make it in time for my exam.

Once in my seat for the exam, I felt the gush again, and again and again and again. I knew it had soaked through. I sat as far forward on the edge of my seat as I could so I wouldn’t leave a stain on the yellow chair. Next, I had to move to another room (to prepare for the speaking exam) and I tried my best to cover myself as I was led there. In the next room, I did the same thing and tried to sit on the edge of my seat. I knew I had left a small stain and was so horrified. I asked the invigilator if I could go to the toilet and she said I would receive a penalty. I then had to go to ANOTHER room where I had to sit outside on one chair (leaving a stain) then go inside and sit on another chair (leaving another stain). The invigilator who led me there knew rightly what was happening. As I looked her in the eye and asked to go to the toilet again for this emergency, she told me no once again. Then she took a piece of tissue and went to wipe the seats down. The amount of blood that was coming out was more than I have ever experienced. A pad for a very heavy flow lasted about 30 minutes before it was soaked through again. I got through my exam and ran to the toilet again but I had no way of hiding it this time. I tied my hoodie around my waist and took a cab home. In the 40 minutes it took me to get home, I had once again soaked through my jeans and through the thick hoodie.

Because the blood loss was so much, I was a bit concerned and went back to the clinic to ask if there is any problem. I could only meet with the nurse who told me we should do a blood test to check my iron levels. Then we made an appointment for 3 weeks later to see a doctor and discuss the results. At no point did the nurses explain to me that there was a chance my IUD could have been expelled, nor did they perform a pelvic exam, which I believe is procedure.

Three weeks later I go to see the doctor, who tells me my blood test is normal and gives me some medicine to control the bleeding for my next period. I leave the room feeling relieved until he suddenly calls me back in and asks if I had a pelvic exam last time to check my IUD is in place. I told him I hadn’t, to which he looked surprised. He performed a pelvic exam and said he couldn’t see the strings and that I’d need to have an ultrasound. To my horror, the IUD was not seen in the ultrasound and had in fact been expelled. The doctor explained that I could be pregnant and gave me emergency contraception, despite me telling him I have been having regular sex with my partner for the past 3 weeks, unaware that I had no IUD! He told me to come back in 3 more weeks to have a pregnancy test.

I already knew at this point that, if it did turn out I was pregnant, I am in no position to keep it and would be requesting a termination of the pregnancy.

A week later I took a home pregnancy test and it came out positive. Distressed and upset, I immediately went back to the clinic to have it confirmed and explain my circumstances. I have had an X-ray and one shot of the Pfizer vaccine in the past month, I was not aware my IUD had been expelled because nobody checked and I am in no state mentally or financially to have a baby. The nurse immediately asked if I wanted to apply for an abortion. Now I have to wait another 2 weeks to see 2 doctors so they can assess my physical and mental health and determine whether I’m fit or suitable for an abortion. The procedure comes at great cost and I am already experiencing pregnancy symptoms, which are impacting my daily life. Needless to say, I feel traumatised by this whole experience and I hope nobody else ever has to go through the same thing.

I’d just like to reiterate that I had a 100% positive experience with my first copper IUD and, despite everything, I still think I will go back to it as my contraceptive method. In addition, (though it is not the patients responsibility to remind health workers of this) sometimes people are tired and mistakes like this can happen so if you do go for an IUD check up, make sure it’s actually in place.

I have no hard feelings towards the nurses and doctors at the clinic as I know it was not intentional and they are so kind and helpful in every way when I visit. I get the feeling they know they made a mistake and they are now trying to help me as best they can.

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