I force a cough and it’s done. The gynecologist drops a small T-shaped device on the bedside tray, its bloody tail looping into a figure eight. The petite women with blue gloves and a wide smile reminds me to call if I need anything before shutting the door behind her.
I had the copper IUD inserted into my cervix five years ago to prevent pregnancy. I was told the device was safe, effective, low-risk and–most importantly–non-hormonal. It seemed like the right option.
Almost immediately, something felt wrong. I developed ovarian cysts, cervical polyps, rashes, infection and a whole myriad of new symptoms. Within six months, I had developed a severe case valley fever and pneumonia. Gradually, the list of symptoms to include numerous benign tumors, chronic fatigue and autoimmune disease. Prior to the IUD, I had never been sick. Something in my body was very, very wrong.
“Could it be the IUD?” I’ve asked this question over fifty times to doctors across all specialties. Perhaps my copper levels are too high, maybe the device is causing inflammation or it’s possible the IUD is just not for me. Every single doctor looked at me like I was crazy, so I blamed it on the valley fever’s uncanny ability to mimic and alter human DNA. That is, until last week.
At a loss for what to do next, my boyfriend asked for my neurologist’s thoughts on the IUD in relation to my symptoms. For the first time in five years, my concerns were not immediately dismissed.
“Take it out,” he suggested, “The body is its own regulatory system. A permanent fixture, such as an IUD, can absolutely throw things off. Researchers don’t even fully understand how it works. It’s rare, but some people even have serious allergies to the copper or polyethylene…”
I stared at the neurologist, dumbfounded. That last word was familiar; it’s the same word that showed up several years when I asked the internet why I develop welts all over my body whenever I touch plastic grocery bags and fancy take out containers.
For the last five years, my body has been exposed nonstop a device composed of a material to which it is highly allergic. No one ever told me. No one ever thought to ask. And I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
That little piece of plastic, coiled in copper and soaked in my biological matter is currently en route to its final destination, where it will melt and meld with needles, flesh and blood-soaked bandages. That feels liberating.
I cannot definitively say that the copper IUD is the root cause of my ever-worsening medical problems, but the correlation is strong and the timelines perfectly align. That gives me hope that removing this singular source of inflammation will give my body the space to resources needed to clean up the damage and make way the body’s natural healing process.