Boys, look away! This is one for the ladies. Unless you're a man doing research for your girlfriend/spouse in which case, you're very thoughtful, please read on…
I wanted to do a review to share my experience of having the Mirena coil inserted, not only because there aren't that many good reviews about it (it's mainly all horror and gore and "Your womb will be ripped to shreds and you won't be able to have kids!" malarky) but also because even though everyone has a different experience, someone might still relate to mine and I want to show people that a good experience of the Mirena coil exists!
Now, I'm no medical professional so if you want to read all the technical hokey pokey about hormones and what-not you're best off having a read of the below links before continuing. Here are some websites that I used when researching the coil:
The general gist is that the IUS or Mirena coil has a small amount of progesterone hormone which is slowly released throughout time, it thickens the mucus in the neck of your womb and thins the lining of the womb making it near impossible for those pesky ball bag swimmers (sperm) to make their way up to your ovaries to impregnate you. Some women do not just use it for contraception however, the Mirena can make your periods a lot lighter or stop them altogether. It can last up to 5 years, as opposed to Jaydess which has a smaller dose of hormones and therefore lasts for 3 years.
I feel I should explain a bit about my medical history in regards to contraception and why I wanted to get the coil to put this all into perspective. In the past I have had major problems with hormones and taking the pill. I initially went on the pill when I was 17, however this was not for contraception but for my skin. I had acne and was given Dianette which worked a treat. Now, you are not meant to take Dianette for over a year, which all medical professionals I saw over the next year failed to tell me. However when someone finally noticed, I was immediately taken off it and put on Microgynon. After a few blissful months taking this, things started to get a bit strange. I had headaches everyday which I just put down to dehydration and pour eyesight, my left arm would be continuously numb and tingly and I started getting heart palpitations. This was obviously not normal but stupidly I carried on taking it nonetheless. It then got really bad. One day whilst in Primark with my Mum I nearly blacked out and started retching into a bag. I then pretty much lost my memory for the next 12 hours, in which I either lost or had my bag stolen. I tried a couple more combined contraceptive pills but long story short, I could no longer take oestrogen, it just messes my body up and sends me a bit mad. I then tried a progesterone only pill (Cerazette) but that didn't take either. They too made me go a bit nuts in the form of becoming an angry, stressy psycho, even more so than my usual self as well as the arm tingle, which by the way, was still inexplicable according to those ever so knowledgeable doctors I asked. The coil was pretty much a last resort unless I wanted to whack out a condom every time me and my chosen sex partner got jiggy, and I'm not about that life. The small amount of hormones that are in the IUS are localised (to the womb where it's inserted) which means they shouldn't effect me like the hormones in the pill did, so this seemed ideal.
I was referred several times to the Margaret Pyke Centre (see website here) as they have a track record of being one of the best 'lady clinics', as I call them, in London. I rang them up, and they asked a few questions about my general health, if I was registered with a doctor and if I had been giving the STI all clear, etcetera. We then discussed why I wanted the Mirena instead of Jaydess or a copper IUD and how I would go about getting one. The nice receptionist woman made me an appointment to have a consultation at the clinic with a doctor to see if I was suitable. She asked me some questions and gave me more information about the procedure and the implications.
A couple of weeks later I was back for the real deal. Whilst in the waiting room, already riddled with nerves, I heard a woman screaming whilst having her IUS inserted, very off-putting. Before I could run, it was my turn. I was first asked to wee in a cup to make sure I wasn't preggo. Once that got the all clear I triple checked with the Doc that it was definitely the Mirena I was getting, didn't want one the wrong one shoved inside me after all. You ideally have to be in the middle of your period when having the IUS fitted, I was nearly at the end for mine, so the doctor still recommended condoms for the next 7 days.
Behind a curtain I removed my bottoms, all of them, but left my socks on, for comfort I suppose. I had already pre shaved everything which I would recommend as a doctor and nurse were soon getting acquainted with my hoo-haa. I laid on my back (and opened my crack… gross, sorry) scooted down to the bottom of the 'bed' put my legs in the stirrups and hollered that I was ready. The nurse came behind the curtain and stood at my side whilst the doctor sat down by my nether regions which were now covered by a long sheet of tissue. The nurse was very sweet and talked to me the whole time about general things, desperately trying to keep my mind off the pain I was about to endure. The doctor fished around a bit, stuck a couple of fingers up there, then lubed up the cold duck beak clamp (not sure on its actual name) and opened me up. She measured my cervix, whilst I watched 'This Morning' on the TV that was attached to the ceiling (fancy right?!) and answered the nurses small talk questions clenching my abdominals in anticipation. The doctor then made the insertion which pinched and hurt a bit, and then came the coil. I could feel it being pushed up into me, the pain wasn't too unbearable and I let out a little 'Oww!' and then it was done!
I was told to rest for 5 minutes whilst I continued to watch Katie Piper being interviewed by Phil and Holly, then wiped myself up a bit and put my bottoms back on. The doctor then took me through how to check for the strings to make sure it hadn't come out, told me to rest and take it easy over the next few days and asked if I wanted to take part in a survey about my experience, which I agreed to. As I filled out the forms back in the waiting room I was given sugary tea and checked up on regularly. The cramping had already started so I took some pain killers and made my way home. At no point did the ordeal feel clinical and cold, it was welcoming and warm. Everyone at the clinic was friendly and I genuinely felt well looked after.
I lay in bed for the rest of the day as I had the IUS fitted in the morning. I regularly topped up on pain killers although the pain wasn't excruciating. The bleed I experienced was pretty heavy, although I was too scared to wear a tampon because I was quite tender up there so I stuck to pads, which was fine as long as I changed it every few hours. I made sure to eat lots to stop feeling weak and drank lots of tea. I went back to work the next day and apart from the cramps and the bleeding I was fine.
After my IUS was fitted I made a check up appointment at the reception for 6 weeks time. When this came around my IUS had settled in, I could feel the strings and wasn't having any severe side effects. The check up only lasted 10 minutes. A nurse just checked that the IUS was still in place and looked healthy. This involved the same procedure as a normal check up, lying on your back, legs akimbo while they clamp you open and route around a bit, but it doesn't last long. I was glad to hear that everything was A-okay and that I only needed to return if anything was wrong. My next check up would be in a years time, or even later, only if necessary.
The Side Effects.
As far as it sounds, my IUS fitting has been a dream, but I have experienced some of the side effects that come along with it.
I have minor cramps every day, the pain lasts maybe half an hour and then subsides. I'm not sure if this is normal because the pain is quite sharp, like it is on the 1st day of your period, so much so that I think I will actually start my period at any moment. In the first few days of having the IUS fitted I had to keep running to the loo because I thought this was the case. I soon got used to it and learnt to deal with my daily dose of pain. I like to think that it happens because it's the time of day when the small amount of hormones are getting released into my system, which my body doesn't like, so my womb goes 'ow' for a while and then it stops. Although this might just be my imagination running away with me.
I have experienced spotting, this is expected in the first few months and mine only lasted a couple of days.
My mood swings have been more sporadic and much more radical. The day before my period starts I usually feel a lot more stressed and angry. The day before my period started with the IUS I went NUTS! I have never felt anger like it, I wanted to actually kill someone, it was pretty scary. These mood swings happen more regularly than they used to. I will be in a horrific mood and not know why. This is nothing out of the ordinary for most of us though, ay!
My appetite has become greater. I am lucky enough to have a fast metabolism so I eat much more than the average girl and do not put on weight. I am now eating what feels like twice as much food as normal and only craving things that are bad for me. I have never really been a chocolate fiend but I need to get at least two daily fixes now. It seems all my body wants is fat and sugar, which can't be healthy and hopefully this stomach monster calms down soon.
All this anger and bad food has meant that my skin has suffered. I usually have a few spots anyway but now my skin goes through stages of bad to worse. It sometimes clears up for a few days but then goes straight back to some hefty red lumps appearing on my chin, jaw and neck.
My left arm also goes numb occasionally, but no where near as bad as before. If anyone knows what this might be, please let me know!
I have had the coil for nearly 2 months now and so far so good. Apart from the few side effects, I have nothing to complain about. If you're wondering how it feels during intercourse, I'm afraid I cannot enlighten you as I have not tried it out thus far but I'm hoping that aspect will not be too much of an issue. If you were to have the IUS fitted however I would not recommend it for at least a week, you'll see why. I'm glad I went for this choice as it's a nice alternative from pills, you don't have to remember to take it everyday and it lasts for a good amount of time.
If you're thinking about getting one I would read up thoroughly about it and chat to a few health professionals to make sure you're suited for it and that it's the right choice for you first. Everyones experience is very different, it just so happened that mine luckily was a good one.
If you have any further questions or queries you would like to ask me, please do so in the comments below and I will answer them as best I can. I hope this review has helped at least one person in their contraception decision making process!