Alison Turkos is co-chair of the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF) and someone who is dedicated to access and transparency regarding women’s reproductive choices. This January, Turkos decided not just to get an IUD — a T-shaped device that is inserted inside the uterus— but to livetweet the experience of having it put inside her.
Turkos’ Storify, “I Live Tweeted My IUD Insertion,” has had over 50,000 views, and started an important conversation about storytelling and reproductive and sexual health. YouBeauty spoke with Turkos about why she chose an IUD — and why she chose to livetweet getting it put inside her:
YouBeauty: Why did you choose an IUD, and how did you choose which kind to get?
Alison Turkos: I was on many different contraceptive devices in the past — the Pill, Nuva ring — before I chose the IUD. Because I get migraines, my neurologist recommended that I not continue to be on a hormonal birth control method, and people I knew raved about their IUDs. I chose the Mirena over ParaGard (the copper IUD, non-hormonal), because one of the side effects of ParaGard is heavier bleeding and cramps during your period. Mirena has a localized hormone, so it stays in your uterus and doesn’t have the same effects as hormonal birth control.
So why did you decide to tweet your IUD insertion?
I’m not someone who’s afraid to share personal experiences, and I also really love social media. So it seemed natural to share this, to show that it’s just a regular trip to the doctor, but also emphasize this is my body and my experience. I’m not saying everyone should get an IUD; maybe it’s not right for you. I’m speaking from an “I” place.
My friends from all across the country were really supportive, and the tweeting made me feel like there were folks far from New York who were there with me.
You tweeted “It’s so not what I thought it would be” and then later “I thought it would be the worst.” Why did you think that? What was it like? What were your concerns going in?
I had heard nothing but horror stories [about getting an IUD]: laying in the backseat of the car, throwing up. People warned me, and not always from their personal experiences. I’m not someone who deals with pain well. I had psyched myself up so much that it was going to be horrible and painful. It wasn’t. The person who did my insertion was an abortion provider [and was] very experienced in insertion. My provider was seamless. I would advise people who are getting an IUD to have the insertion done by an abortion provider, because they do IUD insertion constantly. Your primary care physician or OBGYN, on the other hand, might do one IUD insertion a week.
What do you think your tweeting did for the conversation around sexual and reproductive health?
99.9% of my friends have no problem talking about this, but anytime you’re seeking sexual healthcare, there’s this idea that it should be a secret, you shouldn’t talk about these things — your Diva Cup, your period, your abortion, your IUD. I think what I saw happen were people I’d never met before came to me and said when they’d decided to get an IUD. I’m still getting emails from people — including parents who had IUDs inserted after birth — what that was like, why they’re glad they chose it. We have great conversations, real talk, off the record.
How do you feel about being called “brave” for tweeting the insertion?
It’s not my favorite word. I don’t think I’m brave, I don’t think it was a brave thing to do. I had an incredibly supportive community going into it. If there was backlash, I could deal with it. I think when people use the word “brave,” they’re not sure if they themselves could do it. But you could also livetweet your IUD insertion!