Whew! I am back after a week of digital detox. It was good for my spirit and soul and I feel a million times better! And what a year 2020 has already been. For my first topic of this year, I’m going in deep with my experience with getting a Dutch doctor and obtaining an IUD.
This is such a touchy and personal subject but kids these days are open about everything. There’s an ongoing trend of Youtube videos talking about experiences with birth control. I figured should share mine too. I’m not a native Dutch speaker so I thought it would be interesting to talk about how the process went for me. I hope that other women in my position can find a good doctor and be at ease with the process in The Netherlands. It’s a progressive country and open minded to all life styles. This is my personal experience and I can’t promise they will all go the same way.
In America I hardly ever went to see my doctor. I never bothered with checkups because we all do dumb things in our youth. Anyway, my mom urged me to see my doctor before I left for The Netherlands back in 2016. So I gathered up my courage and went. One of these appointments was with an OB-GYN. I wanted to pick up some birth control before I left and figured this would be the perfect time. And I was right, I had no issues on obtaining birth control.
But my exchange with my doctor was less than favorable. We talked about various topics and that went well. However when it got to me asking about birth control… She asked me when I was planning on having children.
“Oh, I’m not planning on having kids.”
“Don’t say that. You should have at least one.”
And we moved on to the next topic. But those words stayed with me. I was 28 at the time. And I suppose that 28 can be seen as too young to say that I didn’t want children. Well I’m 32 now and I haven’t changed my mind.
So when it was time for me to sign up for a new doctor in The Netherlands, I was scared. I didn’t want to be treated like I couldn’t make my own choices.
This is how it works in The Netherlands. An applicant must search for a local “house doctor.” They aren’t actually a house doctor, it’s what the position is. It’s a general practitioner that is stationed at a local clinic. It’s best to have a doctor in the same city you live in, for various reasons. Sander had not changed his doctor yet so he still had one in the town he grew up. This meant he had to make appointments and drive down to that clinic to see that specific doctor. When I told him I wanted to find a doctor, he decided to transfer his paperwork to our city and we settled on the same doctor.
After that, I made an appointment and waited. I thought about it a lot in those few weeks. Would my new doctor understand I knew what I wanted? Would he question me and make me lie? To pretend that, sure I had no idea what I was talking about. I was female and that meant I was going to have children. Ah yes, because all women want children. Even when they say they don’t.
When the day finally rolled around, I was nervous beyond belief. I would be seeing a male doctor who spoke a language I was mildly comfortable with. Let me say that all those Dutch books never prepare you for conversations like this one. When I walked into the room, I did my best to ooze confidence. I wanted him to know I was certain in what I wanted. He knew I was there for birth control. That’s the nice thing about making appointments for doctors here. On the healthcare website you specify what’s the reason for the appointment.
My doctor invited me to take a seat and we talked about my grasp of the Dutch language. I told him I understood a decent amount but had little knowledge in Dutch medical terms. He told me he would do his best to explain what I couldn’t understand. So far so good. He even was impressed with the Dutch that I did speak, and of course that made me excited. Next he addressed why I was there. I wanted birth control. He asked if I had children and I told him no and that I wasn’t interested in children. I was in sitting in his chair because I wanted a long term solution for birth control.
He looked a little surprised but he pulled out all his information birth control. He spoke about tubal ligation first and then went down the list to the IUD choices like Mirena, Nexplanon, and the pill. I told him that Mirena sounded good for now. It’s a 5 year hormonal intrauterine device that stops the buildup of the lining in the uterus. He explained the risks, side effects and then wrote me a prescription. And that was it. He was friendly, understanding during the entire conversation and explained everything.
He told me to fill my prescription at my local pharmacy and make another appointment for when I was on my period.
“Since you haven’t had children, insertion can be difficult. If you come in when your cervix is soft then it will go easier for you.”
You don’t need to tell me twice! So I waited and waited. I’ve had late periods before but this one didn’t want to come. I use the period tracking app Clue to track my cycles. It took 2 weeks before my period showed up. The 1st day of my period I was on the phone making an appointment to come in.
I watched the following video to prepare me. Leticia is an amazing childfree woman who also suffers from endometriosis. She uses her IUD to help her take charge of her life.
I went into the clinic bright and early the next day. I had taken an ibuprofen as the nurse had requested. The doctor once again walked me through the IUD process. Then he had my lay down and prepared the Mirena. The whole thing was over before I knew it. He told me to come back in 6 weeks for a check up. After that I walked home and I settled down with a heating pad, some warm tea, and a few good movies.
The 6 weeks following that were a little tough. My period has gotten heavier and worse every year. So imagine being on your period for more than a week. Sander said he noticed a clear drain on my energy levels. I slept a lot in the evenings before bed. Gradually the periods got lighter but I was still exhausted so I decided to talk to the nurse on my check up day. The appointment rolls around and the nurse took a quick peek inside to make sure all was well. I informed her some days were exhausting. She said it could be anything and recommended I make an appointment with my doctor.
And what do you know. Two days after that appointment, my period stopped. No bleeding, no spotting… My 6 week period was finally over. And with it’s death, my energy revived!
So now I have a strong birth control regime in place and I am confident about my reproductive health. I felt so strong being able to talk about what I wanted from my body. It feel exhilarating. I encourage everyone to make their own choices and stand up for them. I only met him twice but I know my doctor has my back if I need him.
Don’t be afraid to seek out someone who is willing to care and help you! We only have one life to lead, so lead it how you want to!