By ZOE ADLER BISHOP
I was terrible at contraception when I was young. Child #1 was conceived with the ‘don’t worry I think I’m infertile’ method. Child #2 the ‘using condoms but not properly’ way. Both kids were much wanted and loved, but when I ended up in a new relationship I went for ‘the gates are closed’ principle, got both nipples pierced and chose an Intra Uterine Device (IUD).
My mum was one of the broke young women in the sixties who trialed these little gadgets, which attach to your uterine wall and make it too hard for eggs to get cosy. The copper in the device was the key back then, but now they also make them with hormones. I have enough on my plate with my own hormones, so decided I’d go old school and get copper. At the clinic they tried to change my mind. It’s $170 for the copper IUD and free for the hormone one, which stops you menstruating. But I’m a hippy from way back and don’t mind my monthly bleed telling me everything is in order.
‘Who’d chose to keep a messy period?’ said the female doctor, before snorting, ‘you obviously’. Her pushiness made me wonder if the hormone IUDs are now being trialed on women, but less openly. I was glad when the anesthetic kicked in and her face disappeared.
The periods were messy. Long and intense, just what you’d expect when you mess with your uterine wall. But the sex was messy too, in a good way, relaxed and natural. No more fumbling with condoms. I’d tried the pill as a teenager and got too moody. I’d failed at using a diaphragm when travelling – it ended up melting in the glove box. The IUD was hassle free sex. The nipple piercings went. They’d looked great but were too annoying. The IUD stayed.
The night before my IUD’s removal after its maximum five- year stint my partner was tired. Too tired apparently. I went to sleep curled far on my side of the bed, disappointed to be missing what may be my last messy sex before menopause. I felt hurt that he didn’t appreciate just how big a deal it is for a woman to have her option for worry free sex ending. And I was sad his desire to experience it one last time wasn’t as keen as mine.
There was no anesthetic for the removal. A friendly, matter-of-fact doctor explained it was just like a pap smear, inserted a speculum, and reached in to grab a string that apparently had been hanging there all along. With a tug, and the strong feeling of being de-corked, it was gone. I put my hand over the ache. I felt suddenly fertile. Not a welcome feeling for a mother of two big boys, but nice all the same. I slowly walked out into the city for a cup of tea.
My partner apologized later in the week with a box of condoms. And we had fun choosing lube together like a couple of teenagers. The doctor had let me keep my IUD in a jar, and I couldn’t stop looking at the small anchor shaped device that had kept me safe and given me control in an uncertain time.
Why don’t I get another one? It’s the hippy in me again I guess. Especially now I’ve seen that spiky little sucker I feel my body deserves a break from its grip on my lining. And it’s fun to be grappling with condoms again, now I know how to use them.
Zoe Adler Bishop is a freelance, or is that freefalling? writer with two kids, two cats and a man who luckily likes books as much as she does. She blogs as Ms Chocolate Box Unwrapped about life and chocolate. Her short stories have been published in various places and her novel ‘The Mischief’ was recently shortlisted for the Penguin Varuna Scholarship.
What’s your go to contraception? Do you have the hang of condoms, or are you like pre-children Zoe? Anybody ever considered the IUD?