The Pros and Cons of Skyla
Recently a friend of mine, Maggie Rusch, put together a closed group in Facebook of female endurance athletes. We range from age groupers to professional triathletes and younger to older. Maggie put it together because there were recent topics of birth control being discussed on her coaches FB page resulting in guys getting “grossed out”.
Her idea of a closed group of women being able to talk openly is a great idea because unfortunately, there are still many stigmas attached to women’s health and they aren’t often discussed, especially in public.
This got me thinking about my recent decision to have an IUD, Skyla, inserted. Other than what my doctor told me; “It’ll be a bit painful when inserted and you will cramp and spot for a few days afterwards”, there wasn’t really much information out there.
It dawned on me, “ding ding ding”, that I have a platform to be able to at least share my experiences with other women, without shame or really caring if there is judgment from people.
Here is my story about Skyla.
Last summer my OBGYN mentioned a new IUD on the market that was supposed to be a good option for women who have not yet had any children called Skyla. In the past, IUD’s were not always covered by insurance (but no worries, vasectomy’s always were) but since the Affordable Care Act was passed, insurance companies are now covering almost all things related to women’s health. We checked and my new insurance covered this relatively expensive birth control option: a little over a $1000. He wanted to go ahead and schedule it right away. However, it was July and I was in a middle of a triathlon season that was riddled with injury after injury and I was kinda ok at that moment. I didn’t want to risk derailing some big races because I had some of the more extreme side effects that were somewhat glossed over. So I decided to wait.
I ended up with some health issues by the fall that ended up derailing my race season anyways and any thought of a running winter (It was a BAD year) so I opted for November. I went in one morning after taking my Advil, ready to have the IUD put in. I mean, it was only supposed to be “uncomfortable”. Holy crap, that was the weirdest, crampiest, something is happening inside me, can not pin point the pain, whaaat the hell feeling I’ve ever had for a couple minutes. I wanted to punch my doctor and then go home and possibly punch Dwight. My doctor again said the whole “You will cramp and spot for a few days. Some women continue to have their period for a few months before it stops and it can make you a little emotional”. (more on that later) I was ok with that and off I went home.
I’ll just go ahead and call bullshit on my doctor. The cramping and spotting didn’t last a few days. The cramping was fierce the first week. I tried to explain it to Dwight as the cramps I had when I first started my menstrual cycle. Basically, you curl up in the fetal position and try not to throw up from the pain. There was no exercising at all. The second week the cramps were just as bad, just not 24/7 so I was able to sorta start running again. They slowly got better, but were still going strong when I went down to Kiawah for a half marathon with some girlfriends in December. One second I was fine and the next minute I would be holding my stomach. This was a full month later. It took a about 3 months for the cramps to mostly stop outside of me having my period. Since it was only the first couple of weeks that really affected my training, I just lived with it.
I didn’t really spot, but I did continue to have my period for the first 3 months. I’m not sure about month 4, but I haven’t talked to anyone who has gone past 4 months, so fingers crossed.
Now, let’s discuss this “some women get emotional bullshit”. My emotions and moods have been everywhere. Up, down, sideways, cold, hot, friendly and similar to Sigourney Weaver in Ghost Busters when she was possessed.
I’m not a crier, but for the love of God all I did was cry. Oh, look, a puppy, I must now cry because of the cuteness. It was ridiculous. When Dwight and I got here to Germany, which also happened to be right before I started my period, I was sooooo emotional those first two weeks. I didn’t know what was wrong with me.
I started googling “side affects for Skyla”, “what to expect”, “moody and Skyla”. I could only find one thing that I could relate to. There was ONE and it was a personal blog about experiences. This one blog post made me realize that I wasn’t alone and that I wasn’t just this crazy person. It was a relief.
It’s now been 4 months and the cramps are still around just not as bad, the mood swings are “better” as in not every single damn day but more like 10-15 days out of the month. My period is usually one day and is super light. As an athlete, I highly recommend waiting until you have a few months of down time before you put it in because God know how you will react to it. I realize I might be on the pointy end of the “not great experience”, (it’s only been around for 2 years so not much out there) but you won’t know either until you put it in either.
Ok, well, my moods are better but except for PMS mood swings which I had never had before. Ever.
However, on the side note, the cramping came back with a vengeance is and can be pretty bad for about 7 days. I’m still a bit spotty because apparently I’m not done with my period. The cramps are bad enough that it has made me slow down out on the bike and finish my runs walking. Most of what I hear from other women is all daisy’s and butterfly’s so I do at times question if I’m normal. Luckily, my good friend Shannon is having similar experiences with hers. She says it took at least 6 months for the cramping to stop and still sometimes spots after 10 months. So, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one experiencing these side effects and hopefully they will eventually all together subside. Shannon eventually had her Skyla IUD taken out too.
I’m getting this thing taken out after Louisville. I get really bad PMS, extreme mood swings, still cramp, still have a spotty period, sometimes it hurts to have sex and my reactions to things might sometimes be a little over kill. Basically, this thing sucks! I’m just going back on the Nuva Ring.
The Skyla is out and I’m normal again. Well, about as normal as I can be 😉 But in all seriousness, the moods are normal, no cramping, normal period. I put the Nuva Ring in right away without any problems. My boyfriend got a vasectomy because it was all so crazy – so I’m off any BC now.
If you want a more stream lined version of this post and the other ladies experiences in the comments section below, I wrote a quick post about the side effect to Skyla here.