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Nov 24 2012

Getting a Mirena IUD

Jodi Thibeault is a skeptic, a feminist, an atheist, and most importantly, a human being. Her vocation is ass-kickery; her hobby is vineyard management.

Yesterday I live tweeted about my experience getting an IUD placed inside my uterus. In case you missed it or aren’t following me I’m putting all of the tweets here plus some extra details and info.

I have been having quite a few problems with birth control in the last year, each kind not working out for one reason or another. Jason and I aren’t interested in having children but not quite so sure we want to take the next permanent step. So we’ve opted to push that decision back until I’m 30 years old with a grace period of 5 years in case at 30 we’re still thinking ‘I really just don’t know.’ So now I have an IUD which hopefully will work well and I can keep it for the 5 years it’s meant for.

The website for the IUD describes it as thus:

What is MIRENA®?

MIRENA® is an intrauterine system which prevents pregnancy by slowly releasing small amounts of a synthetic sex hormone known as levonorgestrel into the uterus. “Intrauterine” means within the uterus.

Levonorgestrel is a hormone commonly used in combination with oral contraceptives (the “Pill”) and is similar to progesterone, a sex hormone produced naturally by the body.


It releases approximately 20 micrograms of the levonorgestrel into the uterus per day for up to 5 years. The way it prevents pregnancy is two-fold. First it thickens the cervical mucus to prevent the passage of sperm and second it reduces the lining of the uterus. If sperm does manage to make it through and fertilize an egg it is unlikely the egg will successfully implant. The reduction of the uterine lining also lightens periods over time and many women report their periods disappearing altogether after about a year.

Near the bottom of the photo you can see the t-shaped IUD itself (not well, bad photo). Also I described this slightly wrong. The doctor uses a separate probe to measure the depth of the uterus and the colored ring is then set at the correct depth so as to avoid stabbing the top of the uterus.

Ahahaha I was so naive. Honestly though I know there are many women for which this procedure is nothing more than a pap test. Not me though.

So I was given the usually instructions to ‘change below the waist’ and ‘there’s a sheet for you on the bed’. I sat for maybe two minutes before the doctor came in.

Previously I had a doctor tell me that my uterus was slightly tilted backwards but this doctor said it was tilted forward if anything. *shrug* No idea. It was important however for knowing the angle that the IUD applicator should go at. I would say they got it right but it was pretty painful so I’m not really sure how I would know.

This was done with what felt like a little plastic brush. Didn’t really hurt, just felt like pressure.

This part was where it all started to go downhill. The doctor told me that in order to push the probe and the IUD applicator through my cervix it had to be held in place because it is soft and would otherwise just move away from the probe. The horrid horrid device to ‘hold’ the cervix actually pinches it and I don’t think I can even describe the feeling. I managed to keep typing at this point though just to distract myself.

The probe hurt a lot but it was quick so that was good. It did make me gasp however.

Then the IUD went it and it was like getting stabbed in the belly three times, one more painful than the last. Everything was pulled out quickly at that point, the strings were cut and it was over. Then the cramping began.

I laid on the bed for a long time as my body effectively screamed “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT”. I was told the cramping should subside in about 20 minutes but that is not what happened. I unfortunately have Irritable Bowel Syndrome and the cramping and the stress that my body just underwent was too much.

There was a moment when I really didn’t know how I was going to get in the car and drive myself home but thankfully after a few bathroom visits and a slow walk around the room I started to feel better. The doctor was extremely kind and let me stay as long as I needed. Slowly I didn’t feel like I was going to pass out any more.

The bleeding still hasn’t entirely stopped but it’s much better. I should have also brought a panty liner. Oh well.

I got home and took some more pain killers and had a nap. Things started to feel a lot better after I had some food.

I can only echo the sentiment of my doctor at this point and hope it works out for me after all the pain it took to get it.

Oh, and one more thing. The booklet that comes with the IUD lists all of the possible risks which include: circulatory disorder, breast cancer, diabetes, infections, ectopic pregnancy, cysts on the ovaries, and uterine perforations. Along with this information there is also an odd little note:

Driving or Using Machines
The effect of MIRENA on the ability to drive or use machines has not been studied. Do not drive or use machines until you know how you react to MIRENA.

Right then.

46 comments

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  1. 1
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    I was really hoping this would be a, “it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined,” story. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one but I’d like to have a period so if I need an abortion I will know ASAP in case my state finally does pass its heartbeat bill, and second it sounds like an unpleasant experience. But I’ll be interested to hear how it works out. I’m glad the worst is over!

  2. 2
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    You can actually load up on the ibuprofen beforehand, and even ask for a painkiller prescription so you’re nicely doped for the procedure. I’ve had two Mirenas, and neither time was I told this – a midwife friend told me a few weeks ago, when I was discussing whether my teenage daughter should get one. Apparently medical consensus now is that IUDs are fine for teenage women and women who haven’t had children – incidence of PID with newer IUDs is related to non-sterile application instruments, not to the string wicking bacteria where they don’t belong.

    You will love the lighter to no menstrual periods thing so much that when you’re done with any childbearing, you may bounce right back to the OB/Gyn to get another Mirena…

  3. 3
    carlie

    I’m about halfway through my second now. As both a heads-up and an “it should get better” – after I got the first one, I was in bed for about 2 days straight and felt like I had a knife in my back for about 2 weeks, then had fairly bad cramping for about, oh 6 months. I’ve been told this is on the far end of the spectrum for amount of pain, though. And the good news is that after that, nothing, for the rest of the 5 years. I sometimes get a little backache for a day or so here and there, but nothing, nothing compared to the pain of a period. And when it was replaced for the second one, it was no problem at all. So yes, it should get better.

  4. 4
    sunnybook3

    I just wanted to pass along some encouragement… I’ve had my Mirena for 3 years now. My doctor did recommend Ibuprofen before having it inserted and I was expecting the discomfort. I was not expecting how MUCH discomfort! It hurt going in and I was uncomfortable and crampy for about 2 or 3 days after–there was a lot of “What the hell was I thinking???” And then, after a couple days, I was fine. I LOVE the thing! I have two boys (9 and 11) and I’m done with childbearing. The Mirena is fantastic. My periods got very, very light and stayed that way for a couple years and now they’re gone. I don’t have to think about birth control ever and it’s like it isn’t even there. I asked my doctor about replacing it and whether it would hurt so much with the next one. She said that removing the old one opens everything up for putting the new one in and there’s not really any discomfort. I hope she’s right about that, but it doesn’t really matter to me–the pain was intense, but totally worth it. Hang in there!

  5. 5
    leni

    My doctor suggested 500 mgs of acetaminophen an hour or so before the appointment. Next time I will probably take more. It was still extremely painful for about 30 seconds and it really did feel like getting stabbed, but it was over very quickly.

    I also had discomfort during intercourse for several months after, but my Dr. also encouraged me to stick it out and it did eventually go away. Two years later I have very little flow but some light spotting, which isn’t great but better than a regular period ;)

    Overall it was worth it, so congrats! I hope it goes well for you!

  6. 6
    hieropants

    I have yet to read an account of getting an IUD inserted that doesn’t make me curl up in the fetal position (though Ursula Vernon’s was also pretty funny) but yeah, pills are a pain in the ass to keep track of.

    Has anybody had any experience with the birth control implant? For some reason the thought of sticking a bit of metal in my arm makes me cringe way less than the thought of sticking a bit of metal up my uterus.

  7. 7
    eyeroll

    Gah, an IUD. Oh my experience was terrible. Of course, as they say, times were different then….it was in the 1970s, we lived just south of 60 degrees,only one set of encyclpedia in the whole town, no internet, not even tv. If your parents didn’t give you information, you had no way of finding out. My parents were much more open and progressive than theirs had been and I admire them for it, but still, it wasn’t much. So what did I know about IUDs? But when I asked my mother for birth control she said that is what I would get. A few days later she made me go to the drugstore with her to pick it up. All I saw was this huge, long package. Then there I was on my back with the doctor prying open my virginal 17 year old cervix. Oh man, that hurt. It didn’t help that I thought the damn thing was about 2 feet long.

  8. 8
    Debbie Goddard

    I went in to the gynecologist a week ago to discuss IUDs. I’m considering the non-hormonal copper kind, ParaGard, because I wanted to avoid hormonal birth control due to a family history of blood clots. Besides lasting longer (maybe 10+ years even), they don’t reduce or eliminate one’s period, which makes me lean towards getting Mirena anyway.

    But gah! I read these stories, and there’s so much potential pain and cramping. Do not want! And apparently there’s a chance my insurance company might reject my application for the IUD, too…

  9. 9
    Stephanie

    Wow, I must be one of the lucky ones. (Don’t hate me.) It pinched a little going in, then I cramped for about 20 minutes, but felt fine afterwards. But this was two months after having a baby, so I guess that would make a difference. The only problem I’ve had is my periods last about 10 days now, though it’s very light and spotty. I occasionally cramp after sex, but only for a little while. It did take a few months to stabilize, so hopefully it will get better for you.

  10. 10
    Jodi Thibeault

    The cramping is much better now and I assume that everything will be fine from here on out. I think if I had taken some good drugs before hand and make sure my intestines were cleared out it would have been much better. Anyone out there with IBS or similar issues take note! The uterus cramping produces prostaglandins that cause smooth muscles to contract. Thus my bowel issues immediately after.

    I really was not happy with the cervix pinching and the amount of continuous bleeding afterwards tells me my cervix wasn’t happy either. Not that I expect the procedure will change any time soon but it really really should.

  11. 11
    smhll

    (Heading a little off topic, here.)The next time some dude tries to tell me how unfair it is that because the fetus gestates inside the mother’s body (in most cases), it’s wildly unfair that he can’t make the abortion decision, it will take all of my fucking willpower to keep from kicking him in the shins several times. I’m tired of people trying to be abstract about issues that are gory and painful and personal.

  12. 12
    Kate S

    I’ve had my Mirena for about 2 and a half years now. I had a similarly painful experience. Despite taking ibuprofen before my appointment, the pain was so bad that I vomited in a garbage can at a bus stop on the way home. Fortunately my roommate was with me. I was in bed for two days and had cramps for a week or so. Now I get slight spotting a few times a year which is wonderful, and no longer need prescription painkillers for menstrual cramps.
    As a side note, after the insertion I was kept lying on the table for what I was told was longer than usual because according to the assistant, redheads are more likely to faint? Not entirely sure what to make of that claim…

  13. 13
    Kristen

    Way to go for enduring the IUD insertion procedure! When I had a mirena fitted about six years ago (since removed and replaced with a ParaGard because my body and brain didn’t agree with the levonorgestrel) I agreed to let a trainee do it under supervision–someone who had practised on a model but never done a human, particularly not a nulliparous human. It was Planned Parenthood, it was free, I was a broke 22-year-old intern…anyway. Can we say ow? The jubilee clip or whatever it is they use to hold the cervix open for the whole shebang–I caught myself doing Lamaze breathing while gripping that poor nurse’s hand like she was Leonardo DiCaprio and I had just fallen off the back of an ocean liner. Now the first attempt, that hurt. And didn’t work–it wasn’t positioned right so when the applicator deployed it wedged catty-corner. Bit of screaming. Pull out. Bit more screaming. The second attempt, with a second device, now that hurt worse. No idea what went wrong there, but by this point the teaching nurse was getting a bit flustered, I was white as a sheet, and the trainee’s hands were shaking so bad she couldn’t continue. The third device, fitted by the teacher, (had I paid for them, about $900 worth later) went in and stayed in, and after much hand-patting, “expect some cramping”-ing, “you’ll be all right, but try not to do any heavy lifting”-ing I went back to work. It was the worst pain, and most ensnared-rabbit helplessness I’ve ever felt. And to think–that was the process of stretching my cervix wide enough for a pencil to slip through. Consider how much worse it would be to shove a head through that! NEVER.

  14. 14
    HFM

    Hope you stocked up on those panty liners – I got a Mirena two months ago, and I’m still using one daily. They weren’t kidding about the “you may spot for up to three months” thing. On the plus side, it’s been tapering off, and my periods have in fact been much lighter than normal.

    By the way, if anyone’s considering this, shop around if you can to find a provider who does cervical blocks (basically a Novocain swab). My insertion was no worse than a menstrual cramp.

  15. 15
    jenny6833a

    Yesterday I live tweeted about my experience getting an IUD placed inside my uterus.

    An IntraUterine Device goes inside the uterus?

    Who’d have thunk it?

  16. 16
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    I guess the hormones reduce menstrual flow. I had one of the old Copper 7s, and my flow was so heavy that I was borderline anemic for years, which had long-term adverse affects on my physical fitness.

    Your uterus doesn’t stay in one position: it moves back and forth, so ignore whatever doctors say about which way it’s tipped this week.

  17. 17
    Mara

    Ugh, that reminds me of the time I was threatening to live tweet my hysterosonogram. I’m glad I didn’t because it would have very quickly descended into obscenities. Ow. I hope you’re feeling better now!

  18. 18
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    OK, Mr.’s getting the snip next spring, no discussion.
    That’s not going to happen to me and not getting my period would drive me up the wall because: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo, no more pregnancies.

  19. 19
    ButchKitties

    I don’t remember the actual insertion of my IUD being that bad, but the NP doing the insertion expressed her surprise that I didn’t scream or try to jump off the table. I was supposed to be given medication to soften my cervix prior to the procedure, plus some prescription Ibuprofen, but due to paperwork fuck-ups (getting insurance certification was a nightmare) this was missed.

    I got my IUD during my lunch break and then went back to work. I was fine until near the end of the work day. Then the cramping started, and it was BAD. I spent the evening on the couch with a hot water bottle, in enough pain that I had the, “Do I really need to pee? Would it be that bad if I just peed the couch?” conversation with myself a few times.

    After that first night, it’s been fine. I’ve had Mirena for 2.5 years and I love it. I love that I only have to check the strings to make sure it’s still in place after I get my period. I have noticed that my cervix has invited itself to my menstrual cramps party, but it’s nothing at all like what I felt that first night. I just get a little cervical twinge every now and then.

    Re: the strings. Lots of people talk about having them trimmed so as to avoid poking your partner during sex. I didn’t have my strings trimmed at all, and that has allowed me to tuck them up behind my cervix. If they were shorter, then the ends would have nowhere to go but to poke out towards my vagina. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I think the longer the strings, the easier it is to keep them out of the way.

  20. 20
    Amarantha

    @hieropants, re the implant:

    I had Implanon for a while. Rather than metal, it looked like a bit of bendy white plastic about the size of a matchstick, but thinner and perhaps a bit longer. It was inserted using a syringe needle and didn’t hurt much (but I do have a high tolerance for pain).

    Unfortunately it didn’t really work for me (well I mean, it worked as a contraceptive, but…). Rather than stop my periods, it just slowed the whole cycle down, so I would be period-free for a couple of months and then have a period that was light but lasted several weeks. I gave it six months or so and then had it removed. The removal hurt a bit, mostly because the doctor had trouble getting tweezer-hold of the thing, and ended up grabbing out a little chunk of flesh along with the implant.

    Also, my sister had hers removed because it was causing some sort of health issues, like headaches or nausea (can’t recall exactly). I gather we are exceptions and most people have fewer problems with it.

    To summarise, it sounds like Implanon may be less painful and invasive to insert than Mirena, but YMMV for side effects. Also I can’t comment on other implants – my Implanon experiment was maybe a decade ago, so I imagine the state of the art will have advanced in the interim.

  21. 21
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Is your profile pic up there what you were holding in your mind while this was going on? I’d certainly be trying to imagine I was elsewhere, far away, doing something else. Wow. I sure hope it works for you with no further problems. I was wincing and imagining how incredibly uncomfortable this is while reading. Best wishes!

  22. 22
    Jason Thibeault

    Giliell: getting snipped was not out of the question, actually. However, it wouldn’t have done anything about Jodi’s periods, and all the literature says that vasectomies should be considered permanent solutions because the repair procedure is not foolproof (not to mention that it’s surgery).

    If we decide on “never”, though, it’ll be me getting the snip, rather than Jodi’s tubes being tied. Either way, this decision wasn’t made lightly.

  23. 23
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Jason
    Oh, you youngsters (OMG, I am that old) who haven’t made all your plans yet are in a different position.
    I on the other hand have all the kids I ever wanted, we’ve been through the discussion already and the question isn’t if, it’s when. And until then my uterus and my thyroid are plotting together to drive me up the wall.
    Because contrary to common forced birther knowledge it’s not like I’m terribly keen on getting an abortion.

  24. 24
    irisvanderpluym

    I got nuthin’ ’bout IUD’s (and My Amazing Lover™ is snipped). But the comments describing horrifying experiences followed by testimonials as to how it was totally worth it remind me of what women say after they recover from childbirth. At the time and shortly afterward, women say stuff like “Jeezus Fucken Keeriest! I don’t know why anyone ever has more than one!” But then later… it was so worth it!

    Reading this thread makes me happy that I dodged both of these bullets. I hope you recover quickly Jodi, and get all the benefits you are hoping for. No kidz = YAY!

  25. 25
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    I can’t believe there is any reason for physicians to not put more effort into pain management for this. This is a highly effective form of birth control that could help millions but many like myself are scared off by the countless stories. So I found this- http://www.obgynnews.com/news/conference-news/american-college-of-obstetricians-and-gynecologists-2012/single-view/physicians-underestimate-patient-pain-from-iud-insertion/b300f4676c9e14b3c4e9d3cea1f9275e.html
    Says most providers significantly underestimate the pain of insertion and thus research on management may not have the push it needs. Can’t help but wonder how motivated researchers are to prevent vasectomy pain. (I hear they only use local, it’s fast, but it’s sore for a while.) google vasectomy and pain and see all the websites devoted to it.

  26. 26
    irisvanderpluym

    ~G~:

    Can’t help but wonder how motivated researchers are to prevent vasectomy pain. (I hear they only use local, it’s fast, but it’s sore for a while.)

    FWIW, My Amazing Lover™ got snipped under general anesthesia. Insurance paid for all of it. (USA/NYC. YMMV.)

  27. 27
    Ben Zvan

    It amazes me how much of women’s sexual health information is preceded by “I think” or “it should” or “maybe” or other modifiers of uncertainty.
    Before I got my vasectomy, I was shown exactly what the procedure would be like and told exactly what weird sensations I’d have and given information on exactly how long I’d be dealing with exactly what kind of pain. When I went in, it was exactly as described down to the odd tugging feeling in my gut and tingling sensation in my thigh and I was sent home with a handful of Vicodin and antibiotics. The outcome expectation was clear and there was exactly one test to verify success. Plus, they shaved my balls for free.

  28. 28
    FYI

    @~G~ As someone who has an IUD and had a medicinal abortion. You want to go get the IUD. By comparison I would go and have it removed and reinserted every week for four months than have to have another abortion. It does hurt but there are steps that you can take to help reduce it 1) Take painkillers beforehand (ideally ones that don’t thin the blood since that would make any bleeding worse) 2) schedule your appointment for your period, this means that the cervix is slightly softer and will stretch better for the application. However it does really hurt and the cramping can suck for awhile. I slept that afternoon and overall I wouldn’t rate the cramping any worse than could be managed by OTC painkillers, certainly not even close to the worst period I’ve ever had, let alone passing a kidney stone.

  29. 29
    LicoriceAllsort

    The NP who placed my IUD did not tell me at all about the metal-clamp-on-cervix part. Ouch. The whole process was not well explained, and between that and the pain of the procedure, I felt very powerless on the table.

    I had a Mirena with an undiagnosed copper allergy, so over the 7 years of having it, my periods got progressively worse, and eventually my uterus expelled the IUD. That was also a painful process, and for the several days over the Thanksgiving holiday that I was having stabbing cervical pain, I learned that urgent cares in my area will not handle gynecologic concerns, that my local ERs do not staff gynecologists during evening hours, and that GPs in my local ER think that vaginas and cervices are icky and, so, will not look at them. So although I’d eventually figured out that the pain was from my IUD, they ran me through an ultrasound, CT scan, and then discharged me anyhow to wait for several days until I could get my IUD pulled out. I asked them to remove it in ER, and they would not. Not fun.

  30. 30
    Jodi Thibeault

    Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I really feel that we need to talk about these things more. From a young age I was frustrated by people telling me not to talk about my periods even if it was as a simple explanation like “no I don’t feel like going swimming today because I’m on my period.” I was always met with ‘ew! I didn’t need to know that!’ and I always felt like WTF? These are things that are happening to me why the hell shouldn’t I talk about them? The same goes for digestive and mental health issues. The more it is openly talked about the less of an issue it will be to talk about it.

  31. 31
    campbell

    When I got my first (in the U.S., in 2003) my Gyno said prior to the procedure that she understood the recommended standard practice for implantation of the Mirena to be: a) to advise the patient to schedule during or immediately following her period; b) to suggest the patient take an analgesic in advance and/or provide medication at the appointment (including xanax for patients with anxiety); c) to always use a novocain swab of the cervix; and d) not to use that cervix snagging thingie unless absolutely necessary (she said the more practice the inserter has, the less necessary it is to use that device). I have no idea if what she told me was unique to her particular medical training and experience or if indeed it’s what practitioners are taught they should be doing. I also know that individual experiences of pain are, well, individual, and I’ve never thought my conversations with other women about gynecological issues were in any way representative of all women.

    But Holy Buckets. Reading the comments really underscores the latter for me, because ALL the women I’ve known or chatted with about IUDs didn’t describe their experiences as painful at all and my experiences were not painful–it felt uncomfortable for sure, but more like those times I’ve had a rough Pap smear from some jerk inserting a speculum poorly. I bled like my normal period for about 2 days after the first one and barely spotted after the 2nd. After having tried every form of birth control except sterilization and abstinence, the IUD turned out to be the best for me. But hearing from others above will influence how I address the issue with folks in the future when “should I get an IUD?” comes up. So thanks for that, ya’ll.

  32. 32
    amanda

    I Got the Mirena IUD at 19 years old because I just had my first baby on birth control and needed something better. It hurt like heck. I cried. Then I bled for 3 months straight. Which I was tod was completely normal. Okay… Now my periods are irregular and come and go as they please. I can’t track them at all. My biggest concern is my hair loss. I’m losing it by the handfuls in the shower. It’s scary. I checked the mirena website for side effects and yup, its on there. I’ve decided now I am happy with one child and I asked my gyn for permenant birth control. She denied me flat out saying I was too young to make that decision. Even though I am totally free to fight for my country, drink legally, and if I really want to have no more childreb, I can abort. I don’t want that. My husband doesn’t want that. I want this thing out and I want to be sterile. It causes me a lot of random stabbing pains in my abdomen. When i asked what that’s all about the doc said I have no idea. She really said she didn’t know why it does that. Right… That doesn’t make for a happy patient. I don’t know.it makes me nervous about all modern birth control. How “safe” is it really? Sorry to hear so many women are having these problems. It’s not right.

  33. 33
    Leah F

    My insertion about three months back definitely pinched, but it wasn’t so bad. I knew to take a Tylenol before hand (acetaminophen does wonders on blocking pain – I had a OBGYN tell me that when I had to have a drain in a surgical incision), and then ibuprofen after. It’s settling in, and it’s weird as you start having non-periods (there’s a reason why they provide you that tracking calendar on the site, if you log in). My doctor warned me to stand up slowly – apparently it’s not uncommon for the nurse to come back after and find the patient has fainted while trying to get dressed.

  34. 34
    acodo

    My IUD was a white plastic-feeling version and the procedure was not this bad. I was required to take a cervix dilatation medication for 3 days before the procedure and I think it helped a lot. I had no blood and, while the procedure was not all kitties and cupcakes, it was not excruciating. Generally felt like an aggressive papsmear, and there was about a half a day’s worth of cramping to deal with. Since then, I feel like it was very much worth it; I have nearly no period (I think this is awesome) and have never had problems with the IUD shifting. Occasionally you can feel it there and it is a little weird, but I 100% will be getting another one.

  35. 35
    Aimee

    Gosh. I’m amazed you stayed so polite. I had mine inserted this February and I could have murdered kittens. You inspired me to blog about my experiences of it. The gist is basically that it was a horrible experience, I bled a lot (and continue to do so, it didn’t lighten my periods at all), but probably worth it to avoid the whole baby thing.

    http://tlchimera.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/mirena-iud-high-on-tmi.html

  36. 36
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    For those of you who had an easier time, had you already had a child? Supposedly that make a difference.

  37. 37
    kj

    I have no idea why more medical professionals don’t use cervical dilators and localized anesthetic. Cost maybe? I received both and the procedure was slightly uncomfortable, but not painful at all. =/ Sorry to all those who have had crappy procedures. I’ve never had kids.

  38. 38
    vampandora

    My advice? When they say “check for the string regularly”…Do that! I had the copper IUD for a few months. I got it when my son was about 8 months old. I was still nursing him and couldn’t take hormonal birth control. Around his first birthday I missed my period. Turns out I was pregnant. My OB/GYN checked around up there and, what do you know, no IUD! She said it could have fallen out. Now, I know I can be oblivious sometimes, but I think I’d notice that.

    I went for an xray and bingo…IUD was floating around in my abdomen. I ended up miscarrying days later. They went in and removed the IUD laparoscopically. Two tiny incisions that hurt like a mo-fo when I was trying to nurse my son and he would kick them!

    Obviously not a fan of IUDs myself….I do know people they’ve worked beautifully for though!

  39. 39
    campbell

    @G: never pregnant.
    What Vampandora said about regularly checking strings: Second the motion. Even if you don’t end up with that nightmare scenario, if just the strings “migrate” up into the uterus beyond where the gyno can easily grab them to remove the IUD, you could still be looking at a surgical procedure for removal. No reason not to check regularly (or have your partner do it).

  40. 40
    Musical Atheist

    Thank you for blogging about this! I wish I’d known anything about the experience of getting an IUD before I had one. My (emergency contraception due to split condom) IUD insertion hurt like nothing I can describe. However, it then worked beautifully for over three years, until it failed and I got pregnant. I subsequently miscarried at 18 weeks, which may or may not have been caused by the IUD itself, which was left in situ. I don’t know what make I had, as it was given me by the nurses at the drop-in clinic and brand choice was not a feature, but since this was a goodly number of years ago, it was almost certainly not the Mirena. I guess this means the failure stats will likely not be the same.

    I can say that the cramps following insertion of the IUD were, to my imperfect memory, more painful than the 9 days of contractions which accompanied the miscarriage. IUDs can work brilliantly for many women: based on my own experience, I’d instinctively feel that replacing it well within the 5 years, rather than waiting till the last minue, might be a good idea! However, when I mooted this idea to my obstetrician I was told that it shouldn’t make a difference: the pregnancy probably implanted in an area of the uterus not “covered” by the IUD.

    If (like me) you’re not keen on the IUD idea, but (also like me) you’re rubbish at remembering to take pills every day, I’ve found the NuvaRing to be very convenient and work really well. You wear it for 3 weeks and remove it for the 4th week, when you have a “period”. It doesn’t need to be inserted by a nurse: you just insert it by yourself, and it is completely painless and can’t be felt when in situ. It has approximately the same efficacy rate as the pill. It’s widely available in Europe, I don’t know about the USA and Canada, but I’m pretty sure at least one Canadian friend of mine has it…

  41. 41
    Anon2355

    I read all the horror stories before having Mirena inserted yesterday, so I wanted to come back and put in my voice as another person who had a POSITIVE experience.

    I have PCOS and I don’t get periods when I’m not on hormonal birth control, so I could not have Mirena inserted during or just after a period. I am 21 and have never had a child. I took 800 mg ibuprofen about an hour before my appointment and I was terrified going in, but the insertion was over in three or four minutes with just a small amount of discomfort and no significant pain whatsoever. I had light cramps for the rest of the day, nothing terrible; this morning I woke up at 6:30 due to some more annoying cramping that has continued over the past four hours, but it’s only as bad as normal period cramps I think (and I’m a baby because I barely have a period at all and there’s never much cramping). Now all there is for me to do is hope that Mirena doesn’t give me all the same awful emotional symptoms as the pill and the ring, because it’s my very last remaining option to treat my PCOS!

    I am not trying to discredit all the women who have had extremely painful experiences, but I want to stress that the vocal majority of online posters who experienced intense pain is probably a tiny minority in real life compared with all the women who were just fine.

  42. 42
    carlie

    Anon – I’m glad it went well! I had my third put in a few months ago (I see I thought I was further away from that when I first posted), and there is a definite effect of the person doing it. The first and second were both put in by the same CNP, and she was calm and gentle and talked me through the entire procedure as she was doing it (“Now I’m going to do x, it will feel like y, you may get a little bit of z pain…”). For this one, the OB did it, and she didn’t say a single thing the entire time except one “oops, sorry” after a particularly bad pinch that made me almost jump. If that had been the first time, I would have been incredibly displeased by the whole thing. So I think definitely making sure that the person doing the insertion is paying attention to you is important – I didn’t realize how much less things hurt when you’re warned about them.

  43. 43
    sisi

    I have had a unique experience from everyone else.. But I suppose its because a year ago when my cervix needed to be ripenned before being induced..I had excruciating pain..contractions without gaps..vomiting..and I got this procedure a year later..discomfort pinching 4 a minute or two..very lightheaded lol.. ibruprofen before the procedure.. I have not experienced any cramping.. I do not fill it inside me.. I got it inserted 5 days into my period..which is typical I guess..but I guess I have an uncommon experience.

  44. 44
    Darlene

    I love love love my mirana! I had my first mirana put in 5 years ago I remember the pinching and laying in bed for a few days…. Good news light to no periods and very stable mood! Bad news my iud expired… I was scared of the pain of putting another one in so I tried going back on the pill….bad idea my face broke out I had sever mood swings I cried over everything and the thought of sex was non existent. So I thought I guess I should get another mirana because I did have amazing results.. When I asked the dr for pain killers she said just take ib profin….. She’s nuts I found old vicodine from an injury I had. I took it 30 min before the removal of the iud and insertion of the new mirana. A few light pinches 4 to be exact. 1 pinch to take it out and 3 quick pinches after.. A few slight cramps and no need for a panty liner.. So good news ladies second mirana is a piece of cake! Or insist on pain killers or look in the bavk of your medicine cabinet before you go in for the mirana…. Don’t let these posts scare you…. It’s well worth the 5 years

  45. 45
    Erica

    Tried to get a mirena yesterday. The pain was so intense the doc thought she put it in the wrong place but I couldn’t bear for her to try and fix it. I was basically writhing in pain, sweating and shaking on the table for 10+ minutes until she decided to take it out. It was the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, like the inside of my body was being ripped in half. Ended up throwing up multiple times and almost fainting.

    I suggest not getting this if you have a low tolerance for pain and have not had yet had children!! Personal opinion, of course! On to nuva ring…

  46. 46
    Sarah Norris

    I think I might be one of the lucky ones.

    A bit of back story. I have never had an easy time with my period. Right from the get go (at 14) I had heavy, clotty, and painful periods. I’m 39 now and have had enough. In the last 2 years I’ve begun bleeding 25 or so days out of every month…seriously??? What the heck. Hormone levels etc are all perfetly normal and not menopausal. So. We tried 2 different BC pills in the last 2 years. Neither even showed a sign that they were trying to work. This was a last ditch effort that the dr talked me into when I insisted on a hysterectomy. I’m not using it for anything (or anyone lol) so get it out of there. He convinced me to try the non surgical route first. I’ve never been pregnant and he’s somehow convinced that I’ll change my mind about only ever wanting to adopt. Why is this so hard to believe btw?? Moving on.

    It’s sunday now and I had my Mirena inserted this past wednesday. I’m on day 5 i guess depending on who does the math. He asked me to have it done during the heavy bleeding that we can assume was my period. Hard to tell when I bleed all the time. My insertion went so smoothly I was blown away. The ‘pain’ wasn’t even that. He told me he’d count to 3 and I’d feel a pinch as he opened my cervix. He counted to 3…I geared up for…nothing. I asked if he’d done it yet! A bit of pressure but no pain. Ok…so my cervix is open for business. Now he says I’m going to feel some cramping as he measures my uterus. I felt A cramp. One. One little stab that was a mere fraction of what I’ve dealt with during my period to this point. So cervix open…uterus measured. Now we get down to business. He said that the cramping would be worse than with the measurement for the actual insertion. He didn’t lie but it was more a fluttering than cramps and on a scale of one to 10 (10 being my normal period cramps) this was about a 2. He said it was an easy insertion but wanted to make sure that I was ok. I sat right up and asked if I could get dressed now. He laughed, shook his head, went over a couple of thing and left me to dress.

    So I had been bleeding for 17 days prior to the appointment. By the next morning it had lessened, and by saturday it was gone. I’ve had about 20 minutes a day total of mild mild cramping that I can’t even be sure is related to the IUD as I hurt my back the day before insertion and have been compensating with my abdominal muscles. I’ve not had to take anything for it and it passes quickly. It’s usually at night which is the only common denominator.

    I’ve been told that the first period is a doosey and I’m not looking forward to that but if all goes as smoothly as everything else to this point I’m sure I’ll survive intact lol. I’m due for my period in about 10 days (I think….again, hard to keep track with constant bleeding) so we’ll see how it goes. I’m sorry to all of you who have had horrible times of it and who now hate me I’m sure. I just wanted to write a positive review so people see that side of it too. Very easy to find the horror stories. Too easy.

  1. 47
    The 2012 Lousy Year In Review » Lousy Canuck

    [...] thoughts on Savita Halappanavar’s untimely death and on the Catholic church. My wife Jodi got an IUD and blogged about it, after herself not finding much information on the [...]

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