Originally, I wasn't supposed to get my IUD inserted so close to finals week. My appointment had been set for a good two weeks before because, you see, I was trying to be smart. Had everything gone according to plan, I would've had plenty of time to get myself together before buckling down to my study sessions, last-second papers, and multi-hour exams.
When I went for that first appointment, though, my ob/gyn couldn't get the IUD in. This was about as awful as you can imagine. Her best efforts with the tenaculum and my attempts to keep things as chill and friendly as possible down there (you ever try to "relax" your cervix?) were in vain; my uterus just was not open for business. After 10 minutes of tinkering, my ob/gyn prescribed me some medication to help loosen my cervix and told me to come back in a week.
This was June of my junior year of college, and that second appointment was right before "dead week." For a school on the quarter system, just means a more frenzied week of normal classes, in which you're doing all the assignments you usually do while squeezing in study time for finals and enormous papers. It's not an ideal time to get knocked down by the intense cramps that I knew would be a side effect of the insertion. On top of being worried about the IUD insertion on its own (would it go in this time? How badly would it hurt? What if it came out?), I was also stressed that it would sap my energy and leave me unable to leave my bed for the classes, review sessions, and finals I needed to go to.
Despite all that, I knew realistically that this was the best option. Pushing the insertion until after finals would've been a solid month away, and I couldn't have this hanging over my head for that long. At least I had some notice, I told myself. I could get a little ahead of my studying, plan in advance, make the situation as tolerable as possible. And thank god I did.
My insertion was pretty brutal. By far worst pain I've ever felt (pretty sure I screamed), followed by a period of light-headedness in which I could do nothing but sprawl on the exam table, and finally an endless trip home during which I legitimately had to stop the car and vomit. I had kept that night and the next day free, which was the right call. When I got home that night, I crawled into my dorm room bed and slept until the pain started to ebb. By noon the next day, I was able to hobble out to the nearest dining hall, but was definitely not ready to bike to class.
Recovering from an IUD insertion is a little different for everyone. Some people don't feel any pain and just go back to life as normal. (Lucky bastards.) I got ALL the pain, which meant that even though it was verging on finals week, my priority was recovering, not studying. If cramps hit during a review session or in the middle of writing an essay, I took a break. I was a little worried about it, and did try to keep to my schedule as much as possible; but at the same time, if I was in pain, it's not like I could concentrate on my paper or notecards anyways.
I made everything about getting better as soon as possible. I stopped working out for a few weeks. I shuttled plates of food back from the closest dining hall so I could eat in comfort, laying down on my bed. I kept a full bottle of ibuprofen nearby at all times. Between planning ahead and prioritizing my recovery, I was able to ride out my cramps through finals week and get to the end of the year in one piece.
Obviously, I would have preferred not to have gotten my IUD put in right before the busiest week of the year, but sometimes you just don't have a choice. In an ideal world, we'd be able to pick the perfect day for procedures like this; in the real world, they come up at bad times and you have to be grateful if you get even a few days notice. My advice? No matter what you have going on around an IUD insertion, prepare as best you can, work ahead on anything you need to, and give your body enough time and space to recover. As painful as the insertion was, I'm glad I didn't put it off and I'm glad I had it done, even if it did screw up my studying schedule. That painful, stressful week was worth the trade-off of effective, long-lasting birth control. Plus, I passed my finals. All's well that ends well.