Thursday, July 1, 2010

The TMI post: Tampons, IUDs, and cups... oh my!

I have the amazing capacity to get myself worked up into a tizzy by something that hasn’t even happened and may never happen. Does anyone else do that? You know, you have conversations with someone in your head and you get upset about it…

I will now warn my zero male viewers that the rest of this post will deal with menstruation and contraception, so if you are squeamish and want to click back over to ESPN, I will not feel rejected or mistreated.

I am not sure where to start… so, let’s start with contraception. I have two kids and for many, many reasons, that is enough. My husband, like many Chileans, is convinced that three is the magic number. I have told him: a) when men can bear children he can go for a third; b) he can have as many as he wants with his second wife; but c) I will not be having a third baby.

So after baby number two, I broached the issue of contraception. I wanted something long-term/permanent, but for a few reasons, I did not want a tubal ligation. I had kind of decided that a vasectomy was the way to go: minimally invasive, low likelihood of damage or problems and a pretty good success rate. The only other option was an IUD.

To make a long story short: I have an IUD. It is the Paraguard, or the copper T (ironically, the IUD my mother-in-law was using decades ago when she became pregnant with her youngest. But nothing is 100%, you know you have to accept a small margin of error.) The upside: it has no hormones. I have never taken birth control pills and I have just never felt comfortable with the idea of hormones. And seriously… I have BEEN pregnant; I do not want to take anything that tricks my body into thinking it is pregnant.

To make a short story long again, I was absolutely furious. The initial "get a vasectomy" conversation did not go well. I know most men aren’t really comfortable with the idea of getting snipped, and knowing my husband I knew he would be really, really uncomfortable with the idea. Yet, I felt I had sacrificed enough. He didn’t want to totally block the possibility of having a third. I assured him that I was not going to be having a third. He said you never know. I said I knew…. And so on and so forth…

I fumed, literally, for days, and finally I reasoned that I was the one who didn’t want more kids. If we were to part ways or if something were to happen to me (god forbid, of course) then he might eventually be in a place where he would or could have more kids. So I let it go.

Still, I cried when I went to get it put in, not about the babies I wouldn't be having, but reading about possible complications, uterine rupture and all that. But, it has been more than two years and there have been no problems.

Well, actually for a few months (or a year, whatever) I had the worst PMS in the history of the universe. I mean, I was homicidal for a good two weeks of the month. It was exacerbated by the nagging thought it my head that it was the copper T’s fault—due to copper toxicity or something, which was by default my husband’s fault for what I called “not taking any contraceptive responsibility.” I talked to my doctor she gave me some ideas and said it was probably due more to my age than anything else. Thanks Doc!

From my IUD I am going to jump to menstruation. First, I’ll say that I wish your body would just shut that function off when your brain had decided it was no longer biologically necessary and then I wouldn’t have to deal with this next issue.

I am a tampon girl. At 14 or 15, after the first awkward months of having a period and using pads, my step-mom suggested trying tampons. It was kind of scary and I remember crying in frustration trying to get it inserted correctly. But once I figured it out-- I never looked back.

Why am I talking about tampons anyway? Well, tampons are not very common in Chile. Most Chilean women don’t use them (something vaguely about being Catholic and fears of losing their virginity—which they may wish to re-define). Tampons are hard to find in Chile; there is no variety; they are expensive. This was the case 10 years ago, anyway. My husband suggested that it may have changed, but from what I have read recently by other ex-pats it is very much the same. I used to send my mom money to ship me boxes and boxes of OBs, for almost 4 years.

Rather than carry a 5-year supply down there with me, I looked into other options… well, THE other option, the menstrual cup. I tried the Diva cup. It took me a long time just to get up the nerve—is it that weird of an idea? Yes, I think it is a little weird.

Maybe it takes time to get used to??? But I tried it for a cycle and was not sold. It is a little messy, I can’t imagine having to do it in a public bathroom. I couldn’t seem to get it situated quite right. I couldn’t feel it; it didn’t hurt, but it kept kind of leaking, just a little.

The box says not to use it with an IUD, but checking online I saw that many women do. I called my OB and asked her; she said it was fine, so I bought one. The first day I used it I had some cramping. I hadn’t had cramps for a long time so, naturally I started worrying about it:

What if it dislodged my IUD?
What if it comes out, like I pull out the cup and my IUD is in it?
But the Dr. said it would work fine… what if she is wrong?
What if I am like the 1% of people who have issues with using both?
If it comes out, I am not getting it put back in… I won’t do it, I already did it once.
He’ll have to get a vasectomy
What if he refuses?
would I do?
Well, there would be no sex…
That would be miserable!
What if he just never gave in and didn’t get it done?
Would I leave him?

Yes, that bastard…

I got myself all worked up.

Later, I told the hubs about my mental conversation with him and how upset I was with him for his potential refusal, and how I was making ultimatums and such. I kindly suggested that if the situation should arise that my IUD comes out for whatever reason, it will not be going back in, and that when I tell him that he needs to get the V-job, he should seriously, seriously consider it because I have already resolved to leave him if he doesn’t.

I might give the cup another chance, but I don’t know if I can do the menstrual cup thing. I am bringing it as back up, but it looks like 5 years of tampons it is. I just bought like 20 boxes of OBs

… and my US peeps should be on full alert for tampon requests…

…that and baking chocolate…

Was that waaaaay too much personal information, or what?


Emily said...

Let me assuage your fears: tampons aren't hard to find here anymore. They're expensive, yes, and they only come in small boxes, but pretty much every pharmacy has them. There's even some variety - Tampax vs. Playtex, the compact ones vs. normal - but I haven't seen OB. So do bring those if they're your preference.

As far as the conversations in your head and potentially having to leave your husband, you're on your own :)

Phoenix said...

I constantly have conversations in my head. That totally get me worked up. Sigh.

I'm on the Nuva Ring and have been for almost a year... I heard the IUD is incredibly effective with very little side effects, so that's cool. I've been lucky with my birth control as well - I know some friends of mine had a really rough time with their birth control.

As for the cup... it's incredibly environmentally friendly which is why I wish I could use it... alas, I'm terrified that I'd leak.

There, now you're not the only one who's overshared!

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

Conversations with someone in my head? Yes. Upset with husband after he's done something I don't like in one of my dreams? Yes. From what you've outlined above, I say pack up 5 years of OBs.

Steph said...

I second emily's comment, tampons are in all the supermarkets, maybe only one or 2 brands compared to the entire aisle of pads, and I have honestly never looked at the price, because they are not really optional.
My hubby was booked in to get the v-job when we were in the big smoke having our 3rd baby. He spent 2 days looking after our then 14 month old and 2 1/2 year old and somehow, somehow this made him decide not to get the job done. He was on his own with number 4. A few weeks later in a house of 4 females, 3 of them under the age of 3, and one of them exhausted, hormonal and emotional due to the other 3, he realised the error of his ways. Luckily the general surgeon that did the job was visiting our tiny island of 2000 people a month later, so off he went (with the full knowledge that the entire town etc knew what was going on, the men lined up at the clinic that day were all there for the same reason). Strangely enough he never managed to take in a sample after the job, to see if it had worked, just too small a town for that! But, what a relief!! I am with you on the whole hormone thing, I am glad I don't have to worry about it.

PS I finally started my blog, spurred on by such an interesting evening last night :)

Annje said...

Yes, I am a total OB girl. But it is good to hear that at least other brands are more widely-found... I have heard that they are insanely expensive and come in boxes of 10 (useful!).

Thanks for oversharing with me ;-)

Abby said...

Yeah, tampons are more commonly found now, even more so than 3 years ago. They are expensive. I think the smallest box (of like 8 tampons) costs somewhere around 2.000 pesos, depending where you buy. I find Jumbo has the most variety.

I've been contemplating the Diva cup too...but it's expensive and I don't want to spend the money to have it leak everywhere.

So for now, I just stock up at Costco when I'm home.

Also, I understand your aversion to hormones. But, I've been on the pill for six years and I'm pretty sure you don't feel as though you're pregnant...I mean I've never been pregnant but if this is what it feels like, it's a walk in the park (and I imagine that's not the case!!)

Danielle said...

It's just comforting to know other women struggle with the same thing I do! Thanks for sharing!!!

Eileen said...

you can get OB in Argentina, and much cheaper than in Chile, so head on over! And there are a few different cup options if you decide you want to go that route. Diva and something else, too. And no leakage! And no burying stuff in your friends' trash when you go visit. Enviro excellent! but also, OB in Argentina. Don't forget that.

mrs.notouching said...

I still remember hyperventilating in the H&B isle in Ireland when I realized they have only ONE type of shaving cream! How was I suppose to shave my legs when my cream doesn't smell like strawberries and kiwis?! And no extra vitamin E for a SOFTER skin?! So yeah... no tampons would be a deal breaker for me.
I do have the imaginary conversations, but my husband is way worse - he has a bad dream about us fighting or me cheating on him and then sulks for days!

anymommy said...

I'd be happy to be on your list of people who are willing to send you a care package. Oh, the stuff we have to worry about.

I told my husband the same thing, in reverse, if you want to be done, get in there and get fixed because I am DONE messing with birth control.

Maggie May said...

god i totally hear you. not that i am trying not to get pregnant, but when i am, birth control makes me NUTS. there is no great option, in my opinion. did your hubby know that vasectomies can be reversed?


mosey said...

Um, how did I miss this post??

First, I will mail you anything you need.

Second, mental conversations with hubby? Yep, check. There are times I've divorced him and moved back to Canada before I've even said a word out loud. Thankfully, I rarely get that far....

Heather Marie Philipp said...

1. I LOVE my Diva Cup. It took about 3 months to get used to. Mine only leaks a little towards the end of my period... have loved it for Seven easy breezy years and though I agree with the mess thing a little, I actually like that it helps me stay more connected to my body... it's blood, right there... yep. :)

2. I am considering getting an IUD THIS WEEK, so glad to have your article and your thoughts about it, in addition to the note that the cup may not be good to use with the IUD. I am in Santiago now and looking for a gyno... any recommendations are appreciated. :)

3. I dig your condor and your ability to humbly laugh at yourself a bit while divulging these thoughts... super. Thanks!

No Te Enredes said...

I think that's not a issue . You can easily find tampons all around if you cant find tampons then you can order them from online. There are many online stores available for tampons.
tampon ob