'My doctor "lost" my IUD in my body. It was hidden behind a tumour.'

As told to Isabelle Dolphin.

It had been five years since I decided to get my IUD. I’d been weighing up whether I should get one or not and eventually decided it was the right option for me, opting to go for the small, T-shaped, plastic contraption that is planted into the uterus and lives there for approximately five years.

Those five years had flown by.

It felt like only yesterday that my doctor gave me the gift of fuss-free contraception and told me to return in half a decade. 

"How great!" I thought. No pain, no period and a sense of contraceptive relief. 

I also considered myself one of the lucky ones as many women experience extreme discomfort during the insertion process. I attribute this pleasant experience to having a “very accommodating uterus” – at least, that’s what my doctor told me.

So when my IUD was all outta juice, I made an appointment with my gynecologist to remove it and replace it with a fresh one.

The whole removal process is pretty straightforward, like a pap smear – a clamp is put in place and a doctor essentially pulls on a string that dangles from the cervix allowing for the IUD to collapse and slide out.

Watch: Hazel Jones discusses life with two vaginas. Story continues after video.

Video via ITV.

Sounds weird, but I assure you, it was no more than a 5-minute job. I was in and out with my new IUD and told to visit in six weeks for a check-up.

But when I went in that time, things weren’t exactly smooth sailing. 

After inspecting my “very accommodating uterus” my doctor told me something I wasn't prepared for. 

"Your IUD is missing," she said.

My doctor tried to reassure me that this was relatively normal – this is why they do the six-week checkup in the first place. Apparently, the IUD string can become tucked in on itself or the uterus can even expel the IUD. In some cases, it can even travel further up the cervix and just kind of... float around, I was told. 

The next step was for me to receive an ultrasound. I was told I needed to wait two weeks for the next available appointment and that it would cost me $180, even after a rebate.

It was a bit of a tense wait – after all, I might have had a foreign object floating around my uterus and I felt, you know, a bit weird. On the day of my ultrasound, I was eager to get there and hear the news.

Awkward silence stretched between myself and the sonographer as she did her thing...

"There's a growth in your uterus," she suddenly said. 

I was shocked (as you can probably imagine). 

"Did you know you have a fibroid?" 

Umm sorry, what? What the hell is a fibroid? 

She explained that it was a common growth in the uterus, generally non-cancerous but still a tumour, and the reason they hadn't been able to find my IUD. Turns out, my fibroid was 11cm in diameter and had been blocking the IUD from sight. 


My doctor was also pretty surprised to hear the fibroid news, although reassured me it was fine. The growth, she explained, was similar in size to a foetus of around 14-16 weeks, and could be the reason I have been anemic all these years. 

It's so common, in fact, that almost 70 per cent of women under the age of 50 have a fibroid at any given time., my doctor told me. 

However, mine was particularly large.

I was in utter shock. No one in my 27 years of life had ever mentioned the word "fibroid" to me. Not once had anyone explained that fibroids are often the cause of iron deficiency in women, due to the fact that they sometimes bleed. 

I also had never been told that these benign tumours could cause a uterus to expand to the same size as that of a woman in their second trimester.

I was told to come back in three months to check whether it has grown. If the fibroid changes in size I will need surgery, which likely comes with a range of complications and risks associated with fertility. However, if I don’t, the growth will likely stay and my uterus will remain expanded.

I'm still processing the range of emotions that come with finding a mysterious growth inside my body, but can't help feel a sense of gratitude and relief. My tumour is, fortunately, benign and even though this situation wasn't ideal, I have an even deeper appreciation of my body.

The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Image: Getty/Mamamia.

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