The Mirena IUD sounded like the perfect birth control – one that you don’t have to worry about for the next 5 years after insertion. Little did I know that the side effects of the Mirena IUD would drive me crazy.
After my daughter was born, we knew we were done having kids. Physically, we were too exhausted from a lack of sleep and towing the kids around. Mentally, we just could not fathom how we could split our attention more than we already were with two kids.
Therefore, I did plenty of research on birth control before going into my 6 weeks postpartum appointment with the mindset that we did not want more kids. Here are some reasons why I decided on the Mirena IUD:
- The mini pill needs to be taken at the SAME TIME every day. Hello? As a mom of a baby and an active toddler, there is no way I would be able to make this commitment. Some days I don’t even know what time it is until my stomach is begging me for food and I realize it’s past 10 PM and I haven’t eaten since lunch.
- Female sterilization is just too invasive. There is no time for me to recover with a toddler and an infant, forget what happens if there are any complications.
- Copper IUD was tempting, but the potential side effect of a heavier, more painful period just seemed like a horrible idea.
- Combination pills (estrogen + progesterone) and Depo Provera shots were out of the question because they may cause a decrease in breast milk supply. Nope, can’t take that risk.
Hence, the Mirena IUD appeared to be the way to go. I talked to some relatives and friends and they all seemed to have a great experience with the Mirena IUD. Therefore, I was excited to go with a birth control method that seems like you can basically get it inserted and forget about it for 5 years (except the occasional checking to make sure the string is still there).
While waiting for the OBGYN to arrive, a nurse took my vitals and ask the routine questions. When she realized I was getting the Mirena IUD put in, she warned me that the initial spotting may take a while to disappear. Wait what? Initial spotting? ARGH fine I guess for 5 years of trouble-free birth control, I will take a couple of months of spotting.
But wait …the nurse proceeded to tell me how she got her Mirena IUD a year ago and it took her 6 MONTHS to stop spotting. Holy cow. That’s a very long time. But ok most women only experience spotting for 2-3 months so hopefully, I am like most women.
Then the OBGYN finally arrived and inserted the Mirena IUD. It was a pretty quick procedure, and luckily, I did not experience an excessive amount of bleeding, dizziness, or pain during and after placement. I did feel some cramping for a few days, but nothing even compared to a regular period cramp. Ok done. Woohoo. That was easy … perhaps too easy? I should have known,I am not that lucky of a gal.
The Following … Bloody … 5 Months.
Oh gosh. The nurse was not kidding about the spotting. I spotted on and off for the next 5 months, which was super annoying because I had to basically wear pads all the time. Some days were heavier than others, to the point where I got confused when I actually had my period.
Do you know how irritating it is to change pads all the time when you are with a baby and a toddler who need to cramp into the bathroom with you whenever you go?
But one thing I knew … I wasn’t getting pregnant! I am going to argue that the Mirena IUD’s statistics are a bit skewed because it’s not like people are having intercourse anyway during the initial bloody months. You go Mirena IUD, you have achieved 100% effective rate for birth control.
The Happy Days.
For a few months, I thought my period had regulated and I was done with the spotting. My period was pretty normal, no heavier or lighter than usual, and came every month in a timely manner. I thought I was in the clear and done thinking about birth control for the next 4.5 years.
The Spotting Resumed … and Never Stopped.
About 9 months after I got the Mirena IUD, I started spotting again. At first it was very light, so I thought it would go away quickly. However, as time passed, the spotting got heavier and heavier. There may have been a couple of days when the spotting stopped, giving me false hope, but then it came back again with a vengeance.
I ruined so many underwears thinking that the spotting had stopped. I used up so many boxes of pantyliners and pads that I lost count. And the blood just kept coming….
The Mood Swings.
As much as the spotting bothered me, nothing could compare to the mood swings I experienced. Now, most people would describe me as a very calm and patient person. Most of my friends couldn’t even picture me yelling at my kids (oh believe me, as much as I don’t want to, I do). Before I got pregnant, I always knew my period was coming because the day before I would have a migraine and I would feel more short-tempered for that one day. All that’s to say, I am not a very hormonal or emotional person.
However, on the Mirena IUD, I felt like the Hulk. One moment I would be my normal self, and the next I felt like putting my fist through the wall. The only things I was missing were the bulging muscles and green skin tone. In fact, one time, I was so frustrated that I pounded my hand really hard on the bathtub … and ended up not being able to use my ring and pinky fingers on that hand for a week without extreme pain. And I couldn’t even remember what I was so mad about.
The biggest concern, of course, was my behavior in front of the kids. When my kids are not being the most obedient humans (and seriously, what kids are?), I struggled to hold back the anger that was waiting to burst out of every fiber of my body. I remember once, my son spilled some water on the floor by accident, and I just snapped at him and lectured him forever. And it was just a little bit of water. That night, after my hormones calmed down, I felt so guilty that I had trouble sleeping.
After realizing that my hormones were causing my emotions to be unstable, I tried to run away as much as possible from my children when I was being irrationally infuriated. I would either run to an empty bedroom to calm down before returning to the kids, or if my husband was available, throw the kids at him and just go somewhere … anywhere … so that I didn’t show my rage in front of my children. The extreme mood swings, not the spotting, was what led me to make an appointment with my OBGYN to check on the IUD.
The Disappointing Doctor Appointment.
The biggest concern when my OBGYN heard about all my symptoms was that the IUD had been displaced. However, after checking on the string as well as conducting an ultrasound, the doctor confirmed that the IUD was in the correct position. So the answer to all these side effects was … we DON’T KNOW. Therefore, I was sent home with the hope that my body was still adjusting to the IUD and that I just need to wait it out.
The Skin Issues.
Remember how I was saying that my periods are pretty predictable because my hormones go out of whack the day before I start bleeding? Well, before the IUD, about once a month I got one or two pimples around the time I had my period. Other than that, my skin was usually zit-free.
However, while on the IUD, I started getting these persistent cysts that were extremely huge and painful. They were not the type of pimple you can pop (you are not supposed to but come on, they are hard to resist). Instead, these cysts form deep under the skin, and for me, they love to form around my jawline. When I got them, I felt like Jay Leno because my chin felt gigantic with these cysts.
So with the anger management issues and the acne, I was like the Hulk meets Jay Leno. Big, green, livid Jay Leno. Wait … am I describing Shrek before he fell in love and became a nice guy?
The Faux-Pregnancy Symptoms.
At one point, I could have sworn that I was pregnant. I even went out to get pregnancy tests to make sure, though it would have been a miracle baby because there was definitely no action in the bedroom with all the spotting and mood swings going on.
On random days, I would be nauseous and feeling very lightheaded. Although I never got to the point of vomiting, I was dry heaving and even ran to the toilet a few times as precaution. I was also soooooo tired, but it’s difficult to tell what’s the normal level of fatigue for a mom with two toddlers. Some days I felt like the Wile E. Coyote and had chased the Roadrunner for miles, just to have a gigantic anvil on my head.
I was also experiencing physical symptoms. I LOOKED pregnant. Sure, I was still working on losing the baby weight, but I shouldn’t be looking like I was 5 months pregnant. I was so bloated and uncomfortable the whole day. Therefore, with the way I felt plus the bloating, it was just getting way too difficult to be a happy mom.
The Ultimate Decision.
After discussing with my husband, I realized … what’s the point of having the Mirena IUD? The whole purpose of it was birth control, and with all the side effects it wasn’t like sex was an option. The way to prevent having more children is interfering with me being a good parent to the children we have, and that just didn’t make sense when there are other choices.
Therefore, I made the appointment and removed the Mirena IUD. The OBGYN concluded that my body and hormones were just not compatible with the Mirena IUD and there was nothing to do about it.
I have stopped birth control all together for a couple months, then tried the mini pill. Even though I achieved taking the mini pill at the same time everyday (eh … or close enough), about a few months later I started spotting again. My OBGYN said that the mini pill works similarly to the Mirena IUD, so it’s not surprising that I was experiencing similar side effects. Great. Bye bye mini pills.
In the end, my husband and I decided to go the male sterilization route. Instead of messing with my hormones by trying different birth control methods, the physical route of blocking the sperm seems to be much simpler. We are in the process of setting up the appointments to get the procedure done … wish us luck!!!
What are your experiences with the Mirena IUD? Let me know in the comments below!