Note: Hi! This post is going to be written in first person by me, Victoria. It is very personal but is meant to educate, not make anyone feel bad for me. If you want to find the outcome and not read the whole post, scroll 3/4 of the way down. Thanks for reading!
2016 was going to be my year. I was finally going to be living my dream of traveling the world with no strings attached. I had a brand new travel blog to share my stories. I had a loving and supportive boyfriend to travel with. I had my own business managing social media. I also had made the choice to get a copper IUD.
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The decision to get a copper IUD was an easy one. I didn’t want to take any hormonal birth control and copper was a natural element already found in the body. The IUD could stay in place for 10 years which meant I could easily travel without having to worry about anything. I was sold. Or so I thought.
Insertion was a super-easy and painless process. I had my copper IUD placed mid-February. I was told by doctors and a variety of online medical and drug websites that the only real copper IUD side effects I would experience were heavier-than-normal bleeding during my first three periods and possibly for the first 6 months. Since I already experience heavy bleeding normally, this wasn’t a huge concern.
I went on my first trip of 2016 in January to Arizona. This was pre-copper IUD and Terrence and I had a wonderful time. A week post-IUD we traveled to Washington. Although we didn’t immediately peg anything as wrong, Terrence noticed a change in me. He kept these feelings to himself because I was super stressed about our impending three month trip to Europe.
After Washington, we came home for three days, packed, and set off on what was supposed to be a dream trip backpacking Europe with no plans for 3 months. Instead of being a dream, it was absolute hell for both of us. During that time, we did a great job putting on a happy face for social media and our family and not complaining.
Less than a month into the trip, March 2016, I began to experience extreme left-lower-quadrant abdominal pain. I had no idea why and it wasn’t around the time when my period was supposed to come. I had never felt pain like that in my life. When my first period post copper IUD did come, it was heavier than ever before and filled with clots.
Since we were backpacking, I barely managed to carry my 40lb pack for 3 months. I was weak and could barely walk up a hill which made hiking impossible. I had to stop hiking and rest every 30 seconds. I felt like a wimp who was out of shape. The first time I experienced this horrible chest pain was when I was in Washinton on a hike in Olympic National Park and it continued throughout all of Europe. I would get so tired and be in so much pain that I could barely hike to a hidden castle in Innsbruck and didn’t even bother hiking up Slieve League Cliffs in Ireland until Terrence made sure it was worth it.
I would get so tired and be in so much pain that I could barely hike to a hidden castle in Innsbruck and didn’t even bother hiking up Slieve League Cliffs in Ireland until Terrence made sure it was worth it. I was upset that I couldn’t fully enjoy my time abroad and knew deep down that this had to be more than just being “out of shape.” I wish I had known then that the tiny copper IUD in my uterus was completely to blame.
Like the adominal pain, I have begun to experience extreme bloating in March 2016. I thought that I was just “fat” and that sit-ups, working out, and eating better would bring my tummy back to being flat. I was dead wrong. My stomach still remains bloated to this day, December 30 2016. My tummy is/was “pregnant” bloated and it is very painful. Having a permanently “pregnant” stomach without actually being pregnant is very disheartening and did nothing for my body image, something I hadn’t really struggled with too much in the past until this year.
Terrence and I were arguing over tiny stupid things daily. He was secretly unhappy because he had noticed a massive change in me and he wasn’t sure what to make of it. I was NOT the person he had known for two years and I was certainly not the person who he fell in love with. I knew this wasn’t “me” but just assumed it was from the stress of the trip and the very stressful 6 month period we had leading up to it. Even during the stressful end of 2015 I handled the situation like a grown adult and didn’t suffer negative effects. Little did I know the copper IUD was to blame for literally all of these problems.
As soon as I arrived home from Europe I went to see my gynecologist and received both an internal and external ultrasound. The copper IUD was in place, there was no inflammation, and all ovarian problems were ruled out. I saw the copper IUD inside of me correctly placed with my very own eyes. My doctor told me to go see a gastroenterologist and once all GI problems were ruled out, only then was I to come back to a gynecologist. My mom suggested to take out the copper IUD but I assured her medical professionals said it wasn’t the problem.
I went to see a gastroenterologist and she immediately scheduled me for a dual endoscopy and colonoscopy. In addition to the extreme tummy pain, I was also experiencing constant constipation which I had never experienced in my life.
The procedures both came back negative/clean except for the fact that I had general irritable bowel syndrome [IBS] which explained the constipation. I was relieved that it wasn’t cancer or anything worse. I lived my life in peace for a little over a week and then BAM, the pain came back with force. The GI doctor prescribed more drugs with a ton of side effects and I opted out and went with her more natural suggestion of peppermint oil.
I also learned that I had severe anemia and was immediately put on heavy iron supplements. Doctors told me that it was the result of my heavy bleeding, which was a copper IUD side effect. This explained why I was feeling so horribly tired during Europe and why I could barely walk one flight of stairs without feeling like death.
I took the entire summer off of travel to deal with health issues. I had blood work drawn more times than I could imagine and a ton of invasive tests done. Despite all of that, the pain remained unexplained and the constipation raged on. I was also dealing with an almost constant period.
Although I love my Diva Cup, I was wearing it an average of 25+ days per month. I was living on Advil instead of only taking one pill a month and in all honestly, I don’t think it did anything. The pain would sometimes start during the middle of the night and would last for about 2 hours. If it happened at 3 am, I knew it was futile to fight so I just scrolled social media or did work for clients instead of sleeping. The only thing worse than dealing with health problems is dealing with unexplained health problems and having no answers. Isn’t that what medical professionals are paid to do?
I’m a big girl and can handle pain. It was annoying and it hurt really bad, but women are taught to put on a smile and power through cramps from a young age so I was already prepared to handle it gracefully. What really threw me for a loop was how much my mental health was affected.
From March until December 2016, I was crying 5-6 days a week. A WEEK! That meant I was crying almost every day. I ALWAYS had a negative outlook on everything. This really bothered Terrence because he is always positive. I constantly tried to explain to him that it wasn’t that I didn’t WANT to feel positive, it was that I literally couldn’t. When I looked back on my life, I had never felt like this before or dealt with situations with such moodiness. I knew it wasn’t me. I knew it would end and I saw the end of the road, my happiness, but I had no idea what I had to do to get through this hard time.
My mind was in a fog, I was constantly tired, I was super sensitive and weepy, and everything, I mean everything, was a huge ordeal and made me upset. I even got upset and cried because of a shirt Terrence decided to wear to Walmart. I KNEW it was completely stupid to get upset over the things I was getting upset over and at the same time it was more powerful than me and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
Every single trip Terrence and I took this year, save Arizona [pre-copper IUD], ranged between disappointing, sub-par, or terrible. Even if we had some semblance of fun for a short period of time, we would end up arguing or fighting over something stupid and I would end up crying pretty much every day.
Europe was the worst because we hadn’t even identified there was an unexplained problem and we didn’t communicate. NYC in July made everyone feel on edge. I cried in his parent’s apartment for reasons I don’t remember and I always knew I wasn’t having that much fun. Oregon? Iceland part 2? All AMAZING for our art and professional lives but terrible for our relationship and our mental state.
It actually got to the point where we were scared to go on trips because we knew the whole time would be filled with fighting, crying, making up, and then doing it all over again. I felt like I was living a lie. On the internet I was happy and living what most people dream about. My travel blog had taken off, my social media management company was thriving, and I was working with a ton of great people in the tourism industry. Large newspapers and magazines were featuring us and saying we were #couplegoals. I felt the furthest from it. It was a terrible and dark time that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
I decided to continue to seek professional help and was told that I was NOT depressed [thank goodness] and that I was burnt out [makes total sense]. This was the explanation for the constant crying and sadness. I knew it would take time to retrain myself to possibly resemble the person I used to be. I started yoga. Despite these continued efforts, I kept crying, feeling down, and getting upset over things I knew were unreasonable. At this point, we were in mid-November and I was angry that I still didn’t have answers.
I scheduled a second opinion gynecologist appointment for December 8th, 2016. I explained my symptoms to my new doctor and without hesitation in the slightest, he told me my copper IUD had to go. He took it out and sent me on my way without any further information.
IMMEDIATELY, and I mean the same day, the blood cleared up and I was able to take out the Diva Cup. Discharge returned to normal which was something
I hadn’t experienced for 11 months. I was overjoyed by such a simple bodily function.
The pain? It was GONE; nowhere to be found. I was tentative because I knew it could attack me at any moment. But it didn’t. One week passes, then two, then three, then almost a month and nothing. No pain at all not even a tiny twinge.
The week after the copper IUD was pulled, my mom had planned a girls weekend trip to Disney for my sister and I. I was dreading it and knew it would be horrible but I planned to go anyway to make my mom happy. It was FAR FROM horrible! For the first time this year I actually had FUN on a trip. I wasn’t tired, I stayed up late and went swimming until midnight, and I dealt with the crazy holiday crowds with grace. There was no fighting or arguing in the least. I thought that perhaps these two nights away had cleared my burnout.
Almost immediately after the copper IUD was removed, my mood and mental state improved. The sudden change was like something unrealistic out of a movie but it was my life. I wasn’t crying or despondent every single day. In fact, I haven’t cried at all since it was removed. My heartbeat returned to a regular speed after 11 months. I had energy and was actually happy and not just putting on a happy face. I was actually enjoying life.
Although I had looked up information about copper IUD side effects before, I decided to again. Once again, nothing conclusive came up. Instead, I decided to simply Google “too much copper in the body.”
This is how I learned about COPPER TOXICITY. I stayed up till 1 am reading countless medical articles explaining the side effects of too much copper in the body and I was in literal shock. Every. Single. One of my abnormal symptoms WERE LISTED!!
Mind in a fog? There! Supersensitive/weepy? How could that POSSIBLY be there?! Constipation and IBS? THERE! Racing heart? Anemia? Mood swings? Concentration problems? Cold hands? Feelings of extreme sadness and lack of control? THERE, THERE, THERE, THERE, and THERE!
Never in my life did I dream that a “safe” copper IUD could impact my life that much. Even searches for copper IUD side effects didn’t turn up the same results that searching for too much copper in the body did. It’s like the drug companies and doctors don’t want women to know. NOT ONE TIME was I told by any healthcare professional that it could be the copper in the IUD that was causing such an immense and noticeable reaction from my body. I had to figure it out myself.
All along, I KNEW that this wasn’t how I acted for 22 years of my life. The coincidence between every symptom starting all at the same time and getting the copper IUD placed seemed like it was just that, an accident, when in reality, it had everything to do with it. I wasn’t having a breakdown and there wasn’t anything wrong with me other than I had too much copper in my body. As soon as the metal was removed, I improved overnight [not exaggerating].
I suffered at the hands of a tiny foreign object inside of me for 11 months but that doesn’t matter anymore. There is something overwhelming and powerful about having ANSWERS! About knowing that I was right…this wasn’t me and this wasn’t how I normally act. Answers that told me IBS and anemia just don’t start, they are a result of copper toxicity. Answers that explained why I cried almost every day for 11 months and all of a sudden just stopped. Answers that told me why everything was a big deal and why fighting occurred.
Terrence and I? We haven’t had so much as a disagreement. He feels like he can talk to me again and has noticed an immense change in behavior and health. He stood by me and loved me even though I was VERY unlovable for a very long time and for that I am thankful.
Every trip of 2016 was sad and full of stress, fighting, and hard times. That part really sucks since my professional life was so wonderful while my personal was so terrible. The part that is great? My next trip is going to be amazing and Terrence and I won’t have to fear it. Or the trip after that. Or the one after that! I will never feel like I felt at the hands of a copper IUD/copper toxicity again. I’m still in shock that my copper IUD was “all it was” but am thankful, so thankful, I found the answer.
11 months of 2016 sucked because of a copper IUD that screwed up my body. I am now back to normal 110% emotionally, and many physical aspects have mended. I am hoping that my IBS, constipation, and extreme bloating will clear up as my body heals, and I’ve already noticed improvement from the bloating.
If you made it this far, congratulations and thanks for reading. I did not write 3,000 words to make anyone feel bad for me, but to educate women everywhere and to provide closure for myself after such a trying year. If you are experiencing anything abnormal after receiving a copper IUD, I encourage you to research copper toxicity and compare your symptoms.DO NOT WAIT like me. I could have gotten the IUD pulled in June and saved myself a ton of hell but I didn’t. There are things doctors and drug companies don’t tell you and don’t want you to know. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. If something isn’t right, there is no harm in removing the copper IUD “just to see what happens.”
Even though it happened during the very last week of 2016, I found out what was REALLY wrong with my body and that copper toxicity and a copper IUD was to thank. I accomplished a lot this year in my professional and travel life even though my private life was so tumultuous and I’m looking forward to continuing to live WITHOUT copper in my body. During these trying times, I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to go back “to the way I was” emotionally, but I’m thrilled to report it happened, it is real, and I am back to being me!
Goodbye copper IUD, you ruined my life for 11 months. Hello, rest of my life, I can’t wait!
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