In today’s world there are a lot of options when it comes to contraceptive options, the Mirena IUD being one of them. I know there is a lot of skepticism online about these devices but regardless of that, they are an incredibly reliable method that not only serves to prevent pregnancy, but also helps treat many gynecological conditions. In today’s post I want to share with you MY personal experience with the Mirena IUD and how it can work for you.
The Back Story:
Several years ago, when I was beginning to plan for step 1 my whole cycle went crazy. I was having the most horrible periods ever. In short, I was getting migraines, nausea, vomiting, and 10/10 pain that prevented me from going out for 2-3 days. Knowing how rotations work, and that a lot of the residents and attending are male and not at all understanding, I needed to do something to better my situation.
I began looking at my very limited options. Considering I cannot use methods that have estrogen, I was left with 3 options: progesterone pills, also known as Micronor, the Nexplanon implant, or the levonorgestrel IUDs. From the beginning I was very inclined towards the IUD. I knew it was very reliable, lasts 3-7 years, and did not contain estrogen. On the flip side, I did not consider the copper IUD. The reason being that it works by causing inflammation and it would make my whole situation worse.
Well fast forward to May 2016, I made a decision with my ObGyn to begin a course of Micronor. I must say it was the best time of my life. For the first time in a long time I felt good and normal. Marked distinction from my usual moody, hormonal, and miserable. With this reassuring sign, I decided to take the plunge and get the Mirena IUD.
Why the Mirena?
I decided for this particular device because it lasts up to 6 years. Primarily it is estrogen free, and there is no difference in action if you have never been pregnant. It took me about 6 months to get it because my rotation schedule did no go in line with my Dr’s schedule. To be honest I missed most of my appointments during that time. Finally in December I was able to get it. The biggest factor that I was worried about was the insertion and cramping associated with it. On the other hand I thought it couldn’t be worse than what I was going through every single month. In addition to the birth control part of it, there is also data that it helps with conditions like endometriosis, heavy periods, and even painful periods.
Insertion is fairly easy and risk free if done by a skilled physician. It is preferable/advisable to try and coordinate the appointment for the first few days of your period because the opening to the uterus, also known as the cervix, is open and it makes the procedure less bothersome. If this is not possible, like it was for me, then they have to dilate the opening. This is the part that can cause cramps and discomfort during and after the procedure. For me at least, the cramps were like normal mild cramps 4-5/10 in intensity. I took some Aleve and they went away. The insertion precess takes no more than 5 minutes and I have a post on my experience learning how to do this. Some women might have some bleeding for 1-2 days.
Mirena IUD Experience:
For me life with the Mirena has been a breeze. Most of my period cramps do not happen. If and when they do, they are tolerable and mild. I have not had heavy bleeding or extreme pain. Some studies have shown that the women who do exhibit these symptoms usually have the device misplaced and it needs to be removed or replaced. Most women complain of the long period of spotting during the first few months. This is usually during the first half of your cycle (about 2 weeks) due to the lower levels of hormones like estrogen. I have had this happen but I don’t mind it especially because I would rather be (almost) pain free. This usually stops after the first 4 months and leads to no bleeding at all after the first year.
For the most part I do not even know I have it, and I absolutely love it.
Removal/life after Mirena:
At the moment I do not plan to have it removed. When I do decide to do the removal it should be fairly easy. The doctor who placed it should have left a good 2-3 cm string to grab. If the string cannot be found you’ll need an ultrasound to find it. They may still be able to remove it in the office but if they can’t, then you may to be taken to the OR and have it removed via hysteroscopy. This is a procedure where we insert a small camera into the uterus and are able to look inside. In reality most women have it removed in the office and it takes no more than 5 minutes, without any complications. Studies show that most women regain fertility almost immediately with only a minority of women taking 6 months to a year. This regain is a lot faster that with the traditional pill or ring.
At the moment, I plan to have it removed if/when we decide we want to expand our family.
How can the IUD work for you?
The IUD (intrauterine device) is what we call a Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive, LARC for short. If it contains hormones it will be progesterone only, if not then it will be the copper IUD. The hormonal devices work by 1) inhibiting ovulation 2) preventing the lining of the uterus from growing 3) slowing the movement of the fallopian tubes, and 4) changing the consistency of cervical mucus. All 4 of these things contribute to it preventing pregnancy. Now for other purposes the most important ones are #1 and #2. If you want a birth control that you don’t have to think about for a few years then this is a great option. Also it is good for women who can’t use estrogen for whatever reason, and for those breastfeeding.
The hormonal options have been proven to work from 3-7 years, depending on the brand. The copper for up to 10-12 years. Their side effect profile is minimal and includes most of the things I mentioned previously. If you are interested in learning more, make sure to talk to your doctor about the IUD and find out if it will work for you.
So in review, I got my IUD in December 2016. I have had a wonderful Mirena IUD experience and I cannot recommend it enough. I love it! It has helped me feel good and normal about myself while keeping my periods under control and with tolerable pain. Remember that not everyone is suitable to use this method. If you have any doubts or questions feel free to send them my way and I can give you more information/insight from my own personal experience. Want more options about contraceptives? Check out my video about contraceptive options!
Have you had an IUD or are you considering getting one? Let me know in the comments your experience with the Mirena IUD.
Dr Jani V <3