In my younger days, the only method of birth control I used was the condom. That really worked best for me because it didn't bother me (condom vs no condom doesn't feel any different to me) and didn't require *me* to do anything. Plus, since I was rarely in stable relationships, condoms were necessary for the prevention of STDs.

In my mid-20s I decided to give oral birth control a try because I wanted to see if I could control when I got my period. (A friend of mine was able to use it to delay her period when she needed to.) That turned out to not work for me, but I decided to stay on it anyway. I took birth control pills for five years. Then last August, I decided to switch to Paragard (copper IUD). I did it for a variety of reasons. I took a brand name birth control pill, and although a generic version is available, I didn't like the generic. The brand name was expensive--$50 per pack even with insurance. Additionally, I was getting older and wanted to avoid the horrible side effects (i.e., blood clots), which became increasingly likely as you got older. A friend of mine suffered a pulmonary embolism caused by the pill, and although it was terrible, she was lucky in many ways because (a) it didn't kill her and (b) she survived it unscathed (i.e. no long-term damage). I mean, it could have been a stroke. I didn't want to have a similar experience. (Plus, there's all that stuff about how hormonal birth control could increase the risk of breast cancer--something else I didn't want to experience.)

So here we go with the copper IUD. Getting it inserted sucked. It wasn't the actual insertion that sucked, it was the part where they stick the "sound" in you to measure your uterus. I never experienced menstrual cramps before--not ever--and now I do. But they're not horribly bad.

The annoying thing is that I gained weight. This could have been completely coincidental and not caused by the IUD (I can think of no scientific reason why a copper IUD would cause weight gain, and weight gain is not listed as a possible side effect). But if you look online there are a gazillion people who think that Paragard caused them to gain weight. Although that could be complete coincidence too, and if you look online you can find zillions of people who think really stupid thoughts. So I don't have any evidence that Paragard causes weight gain, but my weight gain occurred right after I had it inserted.

The second annoying thing is lower back pain. Now, this is a listed side effect. I haven't been able to figure out the biological mechanism behind this lower back pain phenomenon. Some of the things I've read suggest that the lower back pain is really caused by menstrual cramps because the cramps can "radiate" to the lower back. (I guess that means the pain is diffuse so that you may think that your lower back hurts when it's really your uterus? I don't know.) But I get lower back pain (it's not so much "pain" as it is soreness/stiffness/tightness) even when I'm not experiencing menstrual cramps so that explanation is entirely unsatisfactory to me.

The pain isn't terrible--usually just in the morning. I can usually get it to go away by etiher doing the founder (foundational training exercises) or by foam rolling. But it's annoying because it makes me feel like I'm 10 years older in the morning someitmes. It's not every morning, but some mornings I feel so stiff and sore that I dont' even want to get out of bed. And I never felt like that before I got the IUD.

So...has anyone else had any experiences with copper IUDs? What do you think about it? Anyone know of a better birth control method for someone who doesn't want to use hormones and isn't ready to have her tubes tied? (Not 100% sure that I don't want kids.) My boyfriend doesn't like condoms so that's not really an option right now.