"My painful, emotional experience with the Mirena IUD."

In May I changed my birth control from the Depo injection to the Mirena Coil. I’d been on the Depo for 2 years and it worked great for me, except I had osteoporosis and it makes bones denser, but we’ll come back to that.

When changing contraceptives, I consulted my GP and she recommended the Mirena coil. To be honest, I didn’t have many options left. Because of my illnesses I can only take certain contraceptives. The pill did nothing to control my cramps and bleeding and I’d tried Depo, so onto the next one.

The Mirena Coil is a little T-shaped device that is inserted directly into the uterus and releases small amounts of hormones into your uterus. But trust me, any doctor who tells you women feel “mild discomfort” on insertion is feeding you bulls**t.

To get the coil into your uterus, you’re given an injection directly into your cervix, this dilates it and can make it contract (On the website this is described as “an antiseptic solution”, it’s a needle). They then have to get the insert it 5 cm into your cervix, as mine would only allow it to go 2 cm’s I had to be referred to a GP. DO NOT allow your doctor to keep pushing as this can perforate the uterus.

I’ve heard stories of easy insertion, and good for you if you had one, but mine was not easy. It was possibly one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had and I bled heavily with cramps for a week after.

"In August I was admitted to hospital." Image via iStock.

For the first few months, I thought it was great and any problems and changes in my body I put down to other illnesses (god knows I've got enough!).

I thought I'd found the perfect contraceptive, but looking back now it all makes so much sense.

The cramps disappeared for a couple of weeks but they came back every few weeks and were as bad as ever. I was treated for water infections a few times, but nobody ever even thought about taking my coil out.

In August I was even admitted to hospital. I was dizzy and had a temperature, my uterus was in constant cramping state. It was treated as a pelvic infection, caused by the coil, but it wasn't taken out, and the scans at hospital found a cyst on my right ovary, but I was told there was nothing to be done.

Over the next few months my body went through major changes, I don't know why I didn't associate the two but every single one of these is a side effect of Mirena:

  • I completely lost my menstrual cycle at first and now I get it every 8 weeks for 10 days
  • I have very heavy cramps so much so that I take codeine nearly every day
  • My moods have changed dramatically. I've been suicidal, I cry pretty much every day and my anxiety is through the roof
  • I get headaches and migraines every day and my vision is blurred sometimes
  • My boobs constantly ache, so much so that I barely wear bras anymore
  • I feel nauseated a lot, particularly after eating, leading me to lose two stone. And even when I can't eat I feel bloated
  • Vaginal discharge, inflammation of cervix, vulva or vagina
  • Pain during and after intercourse. Again, I experienced this before but it was increased and my sex drive was very inconsistent
  • Anaemia, I was even given pills for this by my GP and they never connected it with my coil
  • Hair loss, skin irritations and back pain. I put these down to my other illnesses but all tests showed these were under control.
"I bled heavily with cramps for a week after." Image via iStock.

In November it all finally snapped into place.

And that was only because I saw a tweet from a woman talking about the constant boob pain she was in and how this was related to the coil, I hadn't even thought about it before.

As someone who is on a lot of medication and reads everything before starting new treatment, I couldn't believe that I'd allowed myself to just take my GP's word for it. And that's the thing I'm seeing in a lot of Mirena cases, most women are sold the Mirena coil as a wonder contraceptive and never fully told of the risks.

I raised my concerns next time I needed to go to the doctor, again with another UTI, and was brushed off yet again.

So next time I went to see my Lupus consultant I brought it up with her. Her main point of confusion was to why I was taken off the Depo in the first place. I told her that it was the bone density risks with my osteoporosis, to which she explained that my last bone density scans were taken seven years ago. So there may have been no reason for me to be taken off it in the first place. I had new scans and was supposed to discuss different contraceptive plans in the new year, and that takes us to this week.

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By this point, aches and pains, in my lower abdomen are a pretty standard thing, but on Sunday it got worse than it had been since the aforementioned August hospital trip. I could barely walk and even had to use my cane in the house.

The best way to describe it is that it felt like something was crawling around on my uterus.

I knew I needed that thing out of me. Sick of being fobbed off by my GP surgery I went over their heads and went to my local sexual health clinic, they did my second insertion as my GP couldn't do it safely, And honestly I wish I'd gone there in the first place. I had a quick consultation, got up on the bed and plop it was out of me. I'm still in quite a bit of pain as the removal is a bit painful but I hope it'll get better.

Looking back at it now, I feel stupid when I think of all the warning signs I had and didn't connect the dots.

The thing with Mirena is that it's billed as the perfect contraceptive and for some reason GP's seem to believe this. I'd greatly recommend doing your research before deciding if Mirena is right for you and if you are on it and notice any bodily changes keep a log and persist with your doctor. You know your body better than anyone.

I really hope mine goes back to normal for me.

This post originally appeared on Happy Little Syllables and was republished here with full permission.