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.
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.|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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 email@example.com. I'm happy to help you get the answers you need or to give you more details if you want them.