My Experience with the Mirena IUD So Far

Hello everyone! I haven't blogged on here in a long time, but I wanted to come back on here today and talk about my experience with my Mirena IUD. I've missed you guys!

So as I've blogged about before, I used to use the NuvaRing as my birth control. They worked great, but just like other forms of birth control, they had to be replaced monthly. I got married about a year ago now, and we were moving overseas where I wasn't sure I would be able to get NuvaRings. So I decided to bite the bullet and get an IUD, which I have wanted ever since I knew what they were.

The IUD's placement inside the cervix

So what is an intrauterine device or IUD? It's a small t-shaped device that is inserted through the cervix and placed in the uterus by a gynecologist or similar professional. There are IUDs that work through hormones (like the Mirena) and there is also the Paraguard IUD which wards off sperm with copper which acts like a spermicide.

Hormonal and copper IUDs

They are highly effective and last for 3-12 years depending on the IUD you get. Copper IUDs are 99.2% effective and hormonal IUDs are 99.8% effective. The Mirena lasts 5 years and I have a small reminder card to keep in my wallet to remind me when to get it replaced.

First off, let's talk about insertion. The only drawback to IUDs is that they have to be inserted through the cervix. If you have given birth before your cervix will be stretched, and while you may feel some discomfort I do not think it is supposed to be painful. For women that have not given birth, it can be a little painful... OK for me it was really painful. I took an OTC pain killer before hand; there's usually no anesthesia with this procedure. It felt like very intense period cramps. (It also didn't help that I was on my period during this whole process. Also thank goodness for my gynecologist for dealing with a bloody vagina.) I would say my pain was about a 6 or 7 during the insertion on a 0-10 scale. Ouchie!

So it was quite painful for me, but it only lasted a couple minutes, or maybe less, but it felt like longer because of the pain. However, I did have aches and cramps for the rest of that day at about a 3-4 on the pain scale--not too different from bad cramps I get on the first day or so of my period. By the next day I was fully recovered. If I did it again I would definitely request some sort of topical anesthesia or something. Overall though, I definitely don't regret it and I'm so happy to have care free birth control now, especially since I'm living with my husband overseas.

I thought this was funny.

After the procedure you're left with two short strings that poke out of your cervix (but you can't feel them normally, unless you use your fingers). Periodically I check them to make sure they are still there and that the IUD hasn't expelled. That can happen but it's pretty rare. I haven't experienced any side effects (that I know of), and oh, right, I don't get my period anymore! While the copper IUD can lead to heaver periods, I knew I wanted to try the Mirena IUD when my doctor told me that the Mirena can lighten periods or make them disappear. Even though I have a blog about period products, I can't say I miss having my period. My cups do feel a little unloved though.

A graphic by Mirena showing how their IUD affects your period. At 8 months I no longer have periods, and mine stopped much earlier.

Now you might read that it's not safe to use menstrual cups or tampons with an IUD, but from my experience, and according to the research, this isn't true. I used my cup at the beginning when I still had a period and it was completely fine. It's recommended that you break the seal before pulling out the cup though, to avoid applying suction to the IUD, since the cup is right below it. But it's very secure, and I think I even forgot to break the seal a few times, and my IUD stayed right in place. (Still not recommending doing that though!) You should also know what the IUD strings feel like, and check them periodically. For tampons, the same rules apply, just make sure not to pull on your strings.

Birth control and internal menstrual products: vaginal accessories that jive together. Source.

The last thing I want to talk about is the price of IUDs which is a con. They cost around $400-600 depending on the IUD and where you live. I was fortunate in that my insurance covered the IUD cost; it's important to call your insurance company and check before looking into this. If your insurance doesn't cover the procedure or if your don't have insurance, try looking into places like Planned Parenthood. Also remember that the IUD is an investment at first, but you are actually saving money or at least breaking even in the long run, because they can last for 3-12  years; compare that to buying a refill once a month.

Also, this blog is only derived from my personal experience. There are some side effects associated with the IUD and risk factors, so make sure you do your research and talk to your doctor before considering getting and IUD.

Overall, I love my Mirena IUD and I'm very happy with it so far, despite a bit of a bumpy start from the painful insertion.  Of course if you are considering getting an IUD, do you own research, and talk to your doctor about it before you make a decision about what's right for you. (The wikipedia article is a good place to start, or scroll through the IUD tag on the Vagina Pagina livejournal community for more personal accounts. That's also a great place to ask questions from others, and doesn't it have the best name?!) There are also other alternatives that are semi-permanent to consider like the implant. I hope this blog has been hopeful for anyone who was curious. Please leave any questions or your experiences with IUDs down below in the comments.

xo Sarah


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