Three years ago, after a series of pregnancy scares, I felt frustrated, lost and sad that my body felt like an enemy to me. I wanted to freely enjoy my sexuality without using hormonal birth control.
I spent many hours researching on Google for the perfect solution. But there really wasn’t one. Every answer was crossed by some kind of adverse secondary effect. I cursed men for not taking more responsibility. It is so irritating that we have come so far as a society and we still don’t have a healthy, natural, effective form of birth control that is widely used and known.
In my terror and fear, I decided to get a copper IUD. It seemed to be the best alternative I could find.
I felt anxious at the appointment and breathed through the pain on insertion like a woman giving birth. When At home I could feel this foreign object sitting in my cervix and felt a hot flash of anger rise through me. In hindsight, it was my body telling me “no!”. I intentionally disregarded it, feeling hopeful that the nurse was right, and I would adjust and start to feel comfortable.
It took 3 weeks for me to stop noticing the IUD sitting inside me. Then the leaking began. Clear, odourless, watery, liquid started leaking out of me drenching my panties. There was no warning or pattern to it. Then I started getting sharp pains in my ovaries and spotting in the week before my period. I went to see several gynaecologists and sexual health nurses who tested me but couldn’t find anything wrong. Give it 6 months to a year, they said, It will settle down.
My periods became a little heavier and longer than before, I started using a moon cup which I had never needed to before, but what I noticed the most was the extreme heavy tiredness I felt that never seemed to go away. Month after month it felt harder and harder to connect to my light, buoyant, joy.
I was having sex. I wasn’t getting pregnant. It was working. And that was the point. But I stopped feeling quite myself.
When I did my coconut water cleanse in Bali I bled the entire time. Under the assumption that I was detoxing old blood, I hoped that the cleanse would stabilise and harmonise my body, and I would stop leaking and paining so much. Nothing changed. In fact, it started to get worse.
I felt inflamed and bloated, my immune system weakened and I started getting colds often, and I lost sensitivity to sexual arousal. I started having a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. Feeling happy and energetic felt like hard work. I didn’t connect these changes to the copper IUD. I thought I was simply exhausted and not taking care of myself well enough.
Every now and then my intuition nudged me, gently, and said Hey, that thing needs to come out. But at the convenience of not getting pregnant I stubbornly ignored it, with a silent, Yes, I know… I will… Eventually.
For two and a half years I suffered the pains and the leaking and inflammation. Insomnia and the lack of energy. It affected my life on every level.
Early this year I went through a series of health issues that included depression and anxiety that resulted in being identified as hormonal imbalances caused by adrenal fatigue. I threw myself into healing. It worked… for a while. Until it didn’t. I started to unexplainably cry again.
Hating your life when you have no reason to is one of the most bewildering, dishearting and paralyzing feelings. Especially when you know that there’s no reason to feel that way and still, you want to run away from yourself and your life faster than your legs can carry you.
I started listening to the signs. A friend shared her experience with the Copper IUD and how it had led to copper toxicity. Another friend told me a similar story. They both shared how the copper overload in their systems had impacted their lives, their mental health, and their relationships. The stories landed too close to home. I knew it was time.
I called a local health clinic and made the soonest available appointment. I had to wait three weeks to get it out. Two of those weeks I was travelling around San Francisco. The inflammation became worse, as did my insomnia. I often woke up at 4 am with sharp pains in my ovaries, while my inflamed cervix pressed up against my bladder, causing me to need to use the toilet more than normal, and not being able to get back to sleep.
Tired of being tired, unenthusiastic and sad, I counted the days until my IUD came out. On Thursday, a few weeks ago, by the hands of a kind and gentle nurse, it slid right out. As is common, she was quick to offer me hormonal birth control alternatives, and I smiled and thanked her, assuring her that I won’t be needing it.
Two days later my period came. As I slid into the soft, comfortable and familiar period-haze, I realized that I hadn’t been able to connect to myself and my body at this depth, for the last few years. It was sweet relief to be in touch with myself in this way again. It feels like sliding into a safe, warm bath of silken cotton where nothing matters and all the feels are amplified with a level of introspection and understanding that I do not find at other times of my cycle.
Since then things have changed. No more leaking. No more pains. My period has been as light and short as I remember it being before the copper IUD. I am sleeping soundly, and deeply. My energy is slowly increasing again, and I feel like I can think, and feel, more clearly.
I’ve dedicated myself to healing the damage that the copper IUD has done on my body which includes a few simple things: hot yoga to sweat out the copper and get the toxins moving through my lymph glands; lots of quiet yin-activities reading books, watching movies and being still; probiotic-rich hot foods like miso soups, steamed greens and vegetables, eggs and chicken. Zinc is the harmonizer for copper and the best way to gently detox is by consuming it. Epsom salt baths and gentle movement.
I am taking supplements and following a simple morning routine to support my system as I find my new balance.
— First thing in the morning for contraception, I test my temperature with a basal body thermometer when I first wake up, before I start to move around, and then enter it into my Kindara app along with checking and entering my cervical fluid when I use the bathroom. I still feel quite new to this even though I have been doing it for a few months, because the copper IUD caused my hormones, temperature and cervical fluid to be chaotic, so I couldn’t rely on them until now.
— I take a Vitex / Chaste Tree capsule on an empty stomach to help stabilise my hormones with a sip of water and then move to the kitchen to put on the kettle and squeeze a lemon into a tall glass. I always add a dash of cold water to the lemon juice before I top it up with hot water so I don’t cook the lemon and kill all its enzymes. This concoction helps detoxify my liver which is working hard every night cleaning my body of toxins, especially the copper build up. I like making this “me time” and will often meditate during and after I drink the warm lemon water.
— I aim to do yoga in the morning before I start work. This doesn’t happen all the time but as long as I move my body and sweat in some way, every day, I’m happy.
— Mid-morning I make warm drinks with collagen and medicinal mushrooms in them, more often than not in either chai tea or healthy cacao. My favourite is Reishi or Mason’s Mushrooms mixed with collagen, maca, cinnamon, sea salt, a dash of honey and coconut milk. I had to stop drinking coffee because the copper reaction was so strong every time I had it that I would have headspins and feel really sick, followed by anxiety and exhaustion. It was awful. So I’ve opted for drinks that support and heal my nervous system instead.
— I often skip breakfast but if I am hungry I’ll usually have some kind of porridge made with either oats, millet or buckwheat cooked in water and then drizzled with cinnamon, honey and a nut milk.
— Lunch and dinner are always some kind of grain, vegetable and protein variety, avoiding gluten and dairy wherever possible. I’m not against those things, I just think that my body has an easier time without them, especially while it is healing. Right now, ramen-style soups with rice noodles are highly featured in my repertoire. While I love cooking, I don’t love cooking every day, so I often meal prep enough for a few days and then eat a variation of the same thing for 3-4 days.
— In the evening I read before bed to help wind my mind down (here are some of the books I have loved and recommend so far) and take a milk thistle capsule before I go to sleep, again to help my liver detox the copper out of my system.
Eventually I will wean myself away from using so many supplements because I do believe that our bodies are ingenious at healing and supporting us, but for now, I want to give my process as much of a helping hand as I can.
My turbulent journey with the copper IUD has been an invaluable lesson in learning to listen to my body and learning about the contrast between when I am fully plugged in and when I am at discord with myself, my body and my intuition. This lesson seems to play a large role in my life’s karma as it shows up, over and over again under various guises. A lesson that I am deeply grateful for as it teaches me to lean further and further into living a life that is entirely intuitively guided.