There are many different reasons for and against the use of hormonal contraceptives and, given the opportunity, many will throw their opinions at you until you’re left reeling and unable to tell left from right. I think, aside from personal accounts, people should refrain from bashing others with their medical opinions and leave a lot of the talk to doctors, but when it comes to personal experience, the testimony of others can be incredibly useful.
I decided last year, for a combination of reasons, to get the Mirena hormone coil implant as it seemed the best suited to my needs after thorough research online and talking at length with my doctors. I knew the process of getting used to a piece of plastic in my lady parts wouldn’t be easy, but it seemed worth it for the peace of mind and freedom it could offer.
Here is my experience!
For a number of health reasons, me and my reproductive system aren’t the closest of friends. I have always suffered from Dysmenorrhoea (the fancy medical word for “Extremely F***ing painful periods”) and so decided after many years to take steps to naturally stop my periods, without completely writing off the possibility of children someday down the line.
I researched the many kinds of hormonal contraceptives available to me and tried a couple, sadly to no avail. The Mirena turned out to the be the one most likely to give me the relief I needed to lead a happy life.
The Run Up
After multiple appointments with my doctor to settle upon the Mirena, I was booked in for the routine sexual health check up required before getting a coil.
As I had never had any appointments regarding my nether regions before, this was a rather awkward and eye-opening experience for me. I almost chickened out repeatedly, not wanting the embarrassment of a doctor going anywhere near my “hoo ha”, but I realised the only one making a fuss out of it was myself – these doctors spend almost all day every day just inches from a vagina, so mine wasn’t anything new to them.
The screening itself wasn’t really a problem when I calmed myself down. The only scary part was when they said they would text me with the results, and only to worry if I didn’t hear back… And guess who was left for 6 weeks thinking she had an STI because the hospital forgot to text her…. Yup.
You can imagine my relief when they finally told me I was fine after that little doosy!
The Big Day
So, I was told to go about my day as usual before the appointment l and just to take a painkiller a short while before going in and was warned that during and after the appointment I would experience “mild discomfort” and may want to rest for the day.
In reality, the appointment was genuinely the most painful experience of my 22 years, and that includes a head injury I sustained only 2 months before my Mirena insertion. As it turns out, I have an “abnormally small” cervix which meant that it was a whole new level of pain for little ol’ me, especially as the Mirena is mostly recommended for women that have had children.
Just the word “Speculum” makes me unconsciously cross my legs and gives me shudders, but nothing can sum up the bizarre feeling of the little T shaped device popping into place. Six months down the line and I still recall every detail of the fascinating and sickening sensation.
The insertion is kind of like an injection without a needle. The Mirena is on the end of a long stick with a syringe style plunger on the end that pushes the coil into place and then cuts the threads to length as it releases the device.
For all the discomfort, the procedure itself only lasted about 10-15 minutes, plus a 5-10 minute lie down to ensure I didn’t faint from standing up too fast.
The nurses were all incredibly sweet and helpful, ensuring I was safe and as at ease as possible during the whole ordeal.
Pain scale: 8 1/2 out of 10
The First Week
So I left my appointment with my friends, feeling pretty fragile and very queasy. After almost throwing up in my friend’s car from the pain and my body’s shock to the sudden change, I got home and things went from bad to worse.
Keeping in mind that I already suffer from Dysmennorhoea and the strain period pain puts on my daily life, the pain that flooded over me was 100 times worse than any cramps I had suffered in my life.
My boyfriend bundled me inside and wrapped me up as I fought the urge to black out from the sheer agony I was in. I felt as though someone was beating my uterus with a whisk made of fire and scrambling my insides. It was intense and I kept waking up, tossing and turning all night long.
The next day, I could hardly walk. I had to call my work and explain the amount of pain I was in and they kindly let me stay home. It was so rough.
Pain Scale 9 1/2 out of 10
The First Month
I remained in consistent pain for the whole of the first month after the appointment. I had to keep a chair at work to sit on when I wasn’t doing anything and practically lived constantly hopped up on cocodamol just to make it through the day.
It was intense, but I knew what I was in for given my health and my tiny frame. I survived through work, Christmas, travelling and just focussed on staying active and living life as normally as possible until the pain eased off.
When you get the coil, your body may react to the device and try to expel it, due to it being a foreign object inside your body, so pain is normal.
Pain Scale: Constant 6-7 out of 10
6 Months Later
It is 6 months to the day since I got the Mirena coil put in and, while I cannot say the process has been easy, it has been worth it.
In the 6 months I have had the coil, I have had a total of 6 accumulated weeks off my period. No joke. Due to the hormone release, your body has to figure out what to do and get used to the chemicals rushing around in your system and that takes time. The upside is that, while the bleeding is definitely an inconvenience, the pain I get from my periods has lessened significantly and my body is already starting to adjust and I am noticing my periods seem to be wearing off and getting a little shorter in between the growing breaks off.
occasionally I still get the odd twinge from it and pains here and there, but nothing as bad as what I was feeling every month before I got the coil.
Advice and Heads Up
- When you get the coil inserted, you must return for a check-up 6 weeks later to ensure the device is in the correct position to work, so you will need to use other forms of contraception until that point, such as condoms, patches or the pill.
- Obvious, I know, but important: The coil doesn’t protect you from any STIs, so be safe!
- Try not to be too reliant on painkillers as you can build up a tolerance to them and, in some cases, get addicted or damage your organs. I know they seem like an easier option, but I felt a lot worse in the times I was using them too much.
- Don’t let the pain scare you out of it if you really need it. I have decided to be honest about my experience because I wished I had been told, but the impact this device has had on my life in incredible and I feel a lot better knowing I could be on my way to getting rid of painful periods for up to 5 years and the knowledge that I am almost completely safe from accidental pregnancy.
- Your boobs may get noticeably bigger. Thank you, Mirena!
- BOOK TIME OFF WORK FOR AFTER. I was very lucky I had such understanding bosses who let me take a couple days to feel better, but do yourself a favour and make sure you get yourself at least a day or two to rest before going back, even if you are fine after, just so you don’t over exhaust yourself.
- Make sure you talk to your doctors about the options you have available to you, to find the contraceptives that suit your needs best, as we are all very different.
- Carry your Mirena patient card with you at all times. I didn’t know this until recently myself, but I was informed that the reason you are given the card isn’t just to remind you 5 years down the line to replace it, but also for medical reasons. Say you get into an accident and are rushed to hospital, if you have the card the medics will know that you have the Mirena instantly, as the device can show up looking like shrapnel in an X-Ray and it could get removed or cause issue with treatment.
- If, like me, the Mirena causes heavily prolonged periods, make sure you talk to your doctor about the risk of Anemia and possibly invest in some iron supplements, as you don’t want to have to deal with an iron deficiency from bleeding on top of getting used to a coil!
I will be updating this post the further along I get into my experience with the coil and hopefully adding some testimonies from other people about their Mirena stories!
Thank you very much and I hope this has been useful for you!
Please join in the conversation in the comments below and over on Facebook! Xx