I love my Mirena- Update: 5 Week Checkup

When I first decided to get an Intrauterine Device (IUD) I had no intention of blogging about my experience, after all, this is a food blog and has little to do with reproductive health.  After talking with friends and family I have come to realize that people are both curious and misinformed about IUDs in general.  I am by no means an expert, but seeing that I have one inside of me I changed my mind and decided to share.

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Let me back up to a few months ago when I was at a sports bar with awesome boyfriend eating dinner and felt a cramp building in my pelvic area.  It got so bad that I told him to cash out while I went to wait in the car.  Over the next 20 minutes the pain got worse and worse until we finally went to the emergency room.  Because I was throwing a fit they rushed me straight back to a bed and took some blood, but after that we waited about an hour to be seen by a doctor.  Over the course of that hour the pain gradually subsided and by the time they got me back for an ultrasound it had faded almost completely.  The docs didn't find anything and they sent me on my way.  (Lesson learned, if you make a big enough scene in the waiting room of the ER they will send you to a room to wait in a bed instead of out front.)  The same thing happened three more times over the course of about 8 weeks.  I did not go for any more emergency room visits, rather, chose to wait out the pain at home, and every time it gradually subsided.

After visiting multiple gynecologists that all told me here was nothing wrong with me I finally found one that diagnosed the pains as uterine muscle spasms.  Read: menstrual cramps.  You'll understand that my first reaction was, 'Lady, you are crazy.  I know what menstrual cramps feel like and these ain't them.'  After further discussion about my less than fastidious birth control habits (I forget to take my pills about twice a week and then have to double up the next day) she asked me if I had ever considered getting an IUD.

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The thought of having a piece of plastic inserted into my uterus freaked me out a little bit, plus I've been on birth control pills for more than a decade and change is hard.  The good doctor explained to me that the IUD is small and flexible and that after a few days I wouldn't even know it was there.  She also told me that these painful muscle spasms could be my body's way of telling me that it did not appreciate my haphazard birth control schedule, and could we please try to get it together?

I went home to sleep on it, did some research, and called my insurance company.  Joy!  The IUD itself and the insertion were 100% covered with a $10 copay.  The good doc had advised me to think about getting either Mirena or ParaGard, with the main difference between the two being that Mirena containes hormones and ParaGard is hormone free.  I'll be honest and tell disclose that some of the reading I did said that the ParaGard insertion can be painful and cause heavy bleeding that's the main reason I didn't choose it.  I'm a weenie when it comes to those sorts of things.  I scheduled the insertion for a Thursday and took that day and the next off of work, thinking that worst case scenario I would have cramps and lay on the couch, and best case scenario I could catch up on housework and studying.

Awesome boyfriend drove me to the appointment and I was feeling pretty nervous when I checked in.  I won't go into details about how the gynecologist actually inserts the Mirena, but the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals produced an animation that you can watch here if you are curious.

So small, you won't even notice it's there.
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The good doc had me lay back while she put a topical numbing agent on my cervix, which felt weird but not bad.  The actual insertion was the most intense pain I've ever felt in my life, and I was not prepared for this.  My eyes started watering, and fat tears rolled down the side of my face.

The good news is that the hot flash of pain was quick, maybe about a minute, and then it subsided.  The bad news is that the pain was quickly replaced by nausea when the room started spinning.  I told the nurse that I was going to vomit and she and the doctor made me lay down and drink some apple juice.  I did not end up vomiting and about a half hour later awesome boyfriend appeared to walk me out to the car and take me home.

I felt pretty bad the rest of the day (cramps, nausea, headache) and ended up staying in bed and sleeping.  I also felt bad the next day, but good enough to open my eyes and watch some Glee on my Kindle while laying in bed. Saturday I finally dragged my pitiful behind into the shower, and by Sunday I was mostly back to normal.

Now, on to why I am such a happy patient.  I did not bleed at all during or immediately after my insertion.  In fact, I have had almost no bleeding since having my Mirena inserted and that was three weeks ago.  The better news is that I have not had a single cramp or headache in three weeks.  The good doc advised me that some women who use Mirena stop having periods all together and I am hoping against hope that I am one of those lucky ones.  The very best news is that I am free from the shackles of my birth control pills for the next 5 years.  No more birth control alarm going off in the middle of class or dinner.  No more forgetting to bring my pills on my vacation and then my period comes.  No more having to use a back up method of birth control because Kelly forgot to take her pills again.  No more monthly visits to the pharmacy.

If you're thinking about getting an IUD I highly recommend that you do as much research as you possibly can, and talk to a gynecologist that makes you feel comfortable.  I am so happy that my doctor advised me to get one because I am feeling good and not spending my precious time worrying about my lady parts.  There are tons of articles and video diaries online where real users are detailing their experiences, and that is a great way to get an idea of what to expect, and to make yourself feel more comfortable.

If you have questions feel free to leave them in the comments below or, if you want to remain anonymous, email me at lifelovelowcarb@gmail.com and I will do my best to answer them.  If you're in the Baltimore/DC area and looking for a wonderful gynecologist to talk to, send me an email and I will pass along info for the one that I have been seeing.  She is awesome, and won't make fun of you if you are a big baby like me.

Update 11/9/12 : 5 Week Checkup

After you've had the Mirena in for 5-6 weeks, you have to go back to the gynecologist so that she can make sure everything is where it is supposed to be.  I watched lots of frightening YouTube videos where people's IUDs had migrated up into the uterus and I am so grateful that I don't have anything like that to share.

I took some Motrin about 30 minutes before my appointment this time just to be safe.  The good doctor got me up in the chair and took a look to make sure everything was okay.  You can imagine my horror when she told me that she couldn't see the strings.  She told me not to worry, that sometimes they can get curled up into the cervix.  She tried to tease them out with a tool but couldn't find them.  She sent me across the hall for an ultrasound and I promptly started to freak out.
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The good doctor came into the ultrasound with me and told me to relax, that this was a small thing that happens from time to time.  Having an ultrasound when you're not pregnant is a little weird, but not unpleasant.  After a few seconds of searching we found the IUD and (hooray!) it was where it was supposed to be.  I quickly calmed down while the nurse took some pictures and added them to my file.

It's possible that the strings have curled up into my uterus.  It's also possible that my doctor cut them too short in the first place, or that things have shifted a little and they're just not long enough now.  Either way, everything is fine and my IUD is good to go for 5 more years.  I will have to have an ultrasound every year during my annual exam just to double check that the IUD hasn't moved.

The real issue with the strings not being visible is the removal.  Normally when the Mirena is removed, it is pulled out by the strings.  Because that is not an option for me the doctor will have to remove the Mirena manually during an outpatient surgery.  This will require me being asleep while she dilates my cervix to be able to get in to remove the Mirena.  There's no cutting involved or anything like that, so the recovery time for this procedure is minimal.

All in all I'm still extremely happy with my IUD.  I know that the idea of having an implant is not for everyone and I totally get that.  The convenience of not having to mess with birth control pills far outweighs the negatives for me.  Also, the cost savings are tremendous over the course of 5 years and that is always good news.  I haven't had any more abdominal pains since the Mirena was inserted about 6 weeks ago and that is the best news of all.

As always, if you have any questions please feel free to send them along to lifelovelowcarb@gmail.com.  I'm happy to help you get the answers you need or to give you more details if you want them.


  1. Hi, I know its been a while since this post but how is your Mirena now? I had mine put in almost 3 weeks ago and I also can't feel my strings. Thanks!

  2. It's still good. I'm actually due for my annual exam this month, but I suspect that everything is going to be fine. I haven't had any cramps, and I still don't get much of a period (if any) so that is also very nice. I will have to get an ultrasound during my annual gynecological exam, but this is a painless procedure and little more than a small inconvenience. I still highly recommend and IUD for anyone who is thinking about getting one, as it is one of the most reliable forms of birth control available.

    If you can't feel your strings you might want to make an appointment with your gynecologist because it is possible that your IUD has moved and is no longer where it is supposed to be. This can cause all kinds of complications and it also means that the Mirena might not be preventing pregnancy the way that it is supposed to.

    Try not to freak out (like I did) because there's a good chance that it's nothing. It's always good to get these things checked if you're unsure.

  3. Hi! I am scheduled to get the Skyla in 10 days and have been on BC pills for 7+ years. I am very anemic, so my doctor recommended the IUD. I did some research online, and really don't want to psych myself out, but the reviews seem somewhat terrifying. I'm not afraid of the pain-- but more so the acne/weight gain/cysts? BC pills completely cleared up my skin and I had modest weight gain. Do you have any insight into this? Should I taper off my pill before I get the IUD inserted? Did you notice any immediate side effects?


    1. I think it just depends on what you are comfortable with. I also read the terrible reviews before I got my IUD and was pretty nervous. I have had a very good experience though, so looking back I wish I hadn't read them.

      I haven't had any acne, but I've always had pretty clear skin so I'm not sure if I'm the best person to speak to that. I also haven't had a problem with weight gain or cysts.

      One weird thing that I have noticed is an increase in unwanted body/facial hair. I just turned 30, so I'm not sure if that is a side effect of the IUD or just regular hormonal changes due to getting older. They are mostly popping up on my chin and neck. I've been getting them treated at the laser place, so it's a minor inconvenience but not a huge deal.

      I'm not a doctor, so I'm not sure what to tell you about your BC pills. Your OBGYN should be able to offer you some good advice. I would definitely find a gynecologist that makes you feel comfortable and is able to answer all your questions before you get the IUD.

      The last thing is that if you hate it you can always get it removed after a few months. Your OBGYN can speak to this as well, but from what I understand it's a pretty minor procedure.

  4. I am happy that there are other women that are happy with their Mirena as well. I got mine in April 2013 after being on birth control pills for 14 years. (I'm 31 and don't have kids yet.) I decided I didn't want to be on heavy hormones anymore and I was getting PMDD/PMS 2 weeks out of the month.

    I went in, had it inserted, felt like one big period cramp for about a minute then I sat up and left the office. I went to Target to shop actually. Ha! I went back 5 weeks later for her to cut my strings shorter. My gyno told me she wanted it to settle in place and then she will cut the strings. So for the first month I couldn't wear a tampon. I did however spot for ELEVEN weeks straight. But considering all my PMDD/PMS symptoms went away that wasn't a big deal.

    I too have read horror stories about it and see the commercials on TV. But I can honestly say that for the first time in my life I feel even and normal hormonally. I enjoy the freedom of not having to think about it to take a bill everyday. I have actually lost weight. I really love it and wish I would have done it sooner. I have friend who has had hers for 5 years and is getting hers replaced with a new one since the time is up. And another that had hers for 4 years before deciding on another child. Both loved it.

    One thing about the strings. I check monthly for them. I squat in the shower. Sometimes I can easily feel them and sometimes not at all. They do sometimes curve around the cervix. My boyfriend can always feel them. Haha!

    Good luck ladies!