I have now had my Mirena coil in for almost 15 months and I thought I would share a little about how it has been for me in case you are looking at starting or changing your contraception method.
My options for contraception are low thanks to my host of chronic illnesses. I was down to the patch, the coil or the implant and after being on the patch for 3 years, started to experience breakthrough bleeding so was worrying that it would not be as effective for me.
It is really important that if you have a chronic illness like Crohn’s Disease, that you get proper support when selecting a contraception method. Many women are not told, for example, that the oral contraceptive pill is not recommended for women with IBD due to the way our tummy and bowels are affected. The pill can be not absorbed properly and this will affect its protection level. We are also often on medication that would severely impact on a pregnancy so we need to know that our contraception is as effective as possible. I have written more about this in my post – Contraception and IBD/Arthritis – so head over there if you want to read more about this.
So, the Mirena is an example of an IUS – an Intrauterine system. There are different brands and also two types of coil – one with hormones (IUS) and one without (IUD). The Mirena releases progesterone which helps make it more effective. When inserted correctly, the Mirena is over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
After a failed attempt at getting one in 4 years previously, I decided to let my new practice nurse have a go at placing one this time. Long story short, she couldn’t get it in either! She then sent a referral off to my hospital for a gynaecologist referral.
I waited around 3 months I think for the appointment and was shocked when I went in, thinking the first appointment was just going to be a chat, to see everyone gowned up and a miniature theatre waiting for me!
I am not going to say that the procedure went easily, but he did get my coil placed. Due to the surgeries I have had and long term Crohn’s damage, I have a lot of scar tissue in my lower abdomen. This has left my womb not only tilted back (which is very common after ostomy surgery) but also stuck at a 90 degree angle to my left. Where the nurses had been trying to push the coil straight up, they were basically hitting the corner that had now been created. It was very painful but I was given some sedative and gas and air to help me through it. The staff were absolutely amazing and really looked after me. And now my best friend likes to refer to me as WW – not Wonder Woman, but Wonky Womb!
I experienced some light bleeding and cramping afterwards but painkillers and a hot water bottle helped. The gynaecologist has said although a practice nurse may be able to remove this one, I will probably need to go back to them if I want another one placed. Although at first this thought horrified me, it lasts for 5 years so I do not have to think about it for a while and at least we know what the situation is now!
For the first 6 months I had regular bleeding. However it went between spotting and light bleeds – very different to the heavy periods I have been used to all my life. I am not going to lie, I did consider getting it removed at times as it just did not seem like it would ever end. Then in mid March – it did. And since then I haven’t bled at all! I am really glad I stuck with it for those first few months. You are warned it can take a while for your body to get used to, but the constant bleeding can be a bit draining, even when it isn’t heavy.
For any ladies with Crohn’s Disease, you might understand when I say that my symptoms always worsened around the time of my periods. Not many doctors will recognise this, but I know many of us experience it. Not having a period in 10 months now has definitely made this so much better!
As far as things go, the coil is there and will carry on working for 5 years without me having to think about it! You have to check that you can still feel the strings (to ensure it hasn’t moved etc) once a month or so, this is really easy and I tend to do it when I have a bath. Otherwise, I am really, really happy with it. If you make sure you prepare for the initial 6 month period while your body adjusts, I think many people then find it the same as me and won’t ever go back. The only other side effect I have noticed is that my skin has become much oilier again. From being quite dry before, I do find this much easier to deal with and after a change of products in my skincare regime, I now manage it absolutely fine. I have also put on some weight but can’t honestly say it is down to this, I think lockdown played it’s part in that. As I was shielding we weren’t even allowed to leave the house for a walk to exercise, then i broke my ankle and was in a cast for 6 weeks and completely off my feet.
I hope you have found this helpful and I am happy to answer any questions you might have – you can pop them in the comments below or send me an email if you would rather talk privately – firstname.lastname@example.org is where you can find me. I know that Mikhala AKA Miss Budget Beauty also shared her experience on her YouTube channel a few months back so I will pop that video in here as I think it is great to hear from different perspectives.
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