Just about three years ago, I elected to have a Mirena IUD inserted. I had given birth to my daughter, Elanor, 10 weeks earlier, and was 1000% sure I didn’t want another any time soon (in part because Elanor was still highly medicalized at that time, and in part because I had no desire to experience what in my family are called “Irish Twins”).
I’m something of a birth control dabbler.
In college I tried the pill, but found that the very strict regimen of taking the pill at the exact same time every day to maximize efficacy was not my strong point. Nor was remembering to take it every day, especially when I wasn’t sexually active. In later years, I also suffered crippling depression when I tried the pill again.
I loved the depo shot, but stopped getting it when the studies that showed it could affect bone density came out. There were also several years with sketchy health insurance, and the un-subsidized cost was prohibitive.
The nuva-ring is compatible with neither my bi-polar disorder (hello crippling depression) nor my anatomy (I have a long vaginal canal, and my cervix is kind of tilted back, making it next to impossible for me to correctly place it on my own.)
So the spirit of laziness coupled with their reliable track record for preventing STI/STD’s and pregnancy, I mostly relied on condoms from 1997, when I became sexually active until 2007/8 when we elected to start trying to conceive, conceived Hope, lost Hope, used them again until I was cleared to start trying again, and then became pregnant with E. We also used them in 2009 from 6 weeks post partum until 10, when the Mirena was placed.
Mirena was, for me (although I know this isn’t true for every woman) a revelation. Next to no periods (although every few months I’d have light bleeding…light to the point where a tampon seemed like overkill, and I’ve always been fond of tampons), no need for condoms when engaging in sex with my husband, and replaced every 5 years. No muss, no real side effects, no fuss for me.
I had that same IUD that I’ve grown so fond of removed last Thursday. On Sunday I began a light bleeding…and on Monday, the flow became extremely thick. I’ve had large clots (although none larger than a golf ball…the guideline I received after giving birth) passing, and a far heavier flow than I recall being normal, even when I did regularly have my period.
Day 1 was light and without clumps. An annoyance, and a bit of a surprise, as according to my last bleeding I had thought I’d be ovulating this week. I was however, bitchy enough to throw something at my husband when we got into an argument. Right…bitchy and mean…a classic day 1 symptom. Why I usually give the kid to the grandparents/my helper/whoever and go into my room and watch marathons of bad reality tv.
Day 2 involved heavy bleeding, super strength tampons, clots, and I passed out for a long nap mid-day. Hard-core cravings for salty and sweet, and double over and I want to die cramps (although, to be fair, the miscarriage pain was far worse). All the things I had been so grateful to avoid thanks to pregnancy and then Mirena.
Day 3 was more of the same but with far fewer cramps and exhaustion. However, I was inspired to download season 1 of “Shear Genius” from iTunes, so there’s that.
Day 4 was clotty. Very, very clotty. And weepy. Getting into an argument with my new OB for wanting to do something differently than my last OB without a good explanation or feeling like my concerns were being addressed probably didn’t help with the weepy. Loving Tabatha on “Shear Genius”
Day 5–seriously? Still with the clots and the heavy bleeding. And intermittent cramping? This feels like backsliding rather than progress. Normally by now I’d be down to a pad or a liner because a tampon would hardly seem worth the bother. But instead I’m sporting a tampon AND a pad in case I bleed over. Don’t want a repeat of the big red stain on my slacks…once, and publicly in high school was enough of that for a lifetime. Sad…season 1 of Shear Genius is already over?
I’ve done some research and it seems like this is not necessarily an uncommon reaction, although the official Mirena website says nothing other than “your period will return…notify your doctor if you have not gotten your period within weeks of removal,” and does not address what your first post-removal period should be like. It’s hard to separate the anecdotes of actual experiences from the severe OB and Mirena directed haterade being thrown about, not to mention the crazy women who are describing what happened after they pulled it out on their own (hello, risk of preforating your own uterus…crazy, come in….crazy, are you there???).
It seems paradoxical that you would have such a heavy period after removing a device that, in theory, thins your uterine lining. However, it also fools your body into thinking it’s pregnant, so perhaps for some women, there is a heavier than average lining that builds up over time. I’m not a doctor, so I’m just theorizing based on high school biology and my training as a sex educator.
One thing is for certain…if I am still bleeding on Monday (which would be day 10), I will likely call my OB’s office and insist on an ultrasound to confirm that there is no preforation of my uterine wall (which is unlikely, but with an extended bleed like this, especially after someone has mucked about with something that was partially placed into your uterus, worth ruling out).
I would still have elected to get a Mirena knowing that this was a possible side effect after removal, but I wish that Mirena and my OB had been more forthcoming about what to expect in the aftermath. I would have at least have bought a bigger box of tampons.
Meanwhile…advice on how to get a bloodstain out of 600 thread-count white sheets? Will bleach damage the thread-count? And any reality show recommendations?