In my ever evolving quest to correct my problematic reproductive system, I was fitted for a Mirena IUD on Tuesday.
For the last 5 years or so, every gyneocologist I’ve seen has recommended getting an IUD. “No babies for 5 years!” “Set it and forget it for 5 years!” “YOU WON’T GET PREGNANT FOR 5 YEARS WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR” But I never had an interest in it. Mostly because the contraceptive part of birth control is always second to what I actually need the pill for: to regulate and curb my excessive period.
I didn’t want to be subjected to extra hormones 24/7. I wore the birth control patch for about 6 months when I was 18 and during that entire time I had ridiculous mood swings, and then I felt suicidal. There were also the horror stories I heard about copper IUDs in the 80’s and how they fucked up a lot of women back in the day. I also really felt torn about not having a period. I felt like I need to have a period every month, so that I know everything’s working the way it should. Without birth control, I don’t have a period for months — then I basically haemorrhage. And also, knowing every month that I’m not pregnant is good. So yeah, it didn’t seem like a good fit for me.
But, in the last 5 years, I’ve gone from “heavy, irregular periods/bad luck” to stage III endometriosis. When my gyno here first diagnosed me, he recommended I get the Mirena. I didn’t even let him explain before I said, “yeah nah, I get it, 5 years without a kid. It’s cool, but an IUD isn’t for me.” Two years later, when I needed surgery, he convinced me to hear him out about the Mirena. For women with endometriosis, having a period every month means more back bleeding is collected, which contributes to the excessive endometrial growth, leading to bullshit cramps and pain and me stuck to the couch for 3 weeks out of the month. The Mirena, in addition to rendering your lady garden infertile, also works to thin the lining of said garden. So eventually you stop having anything to shed. Ergo, you stop having a period. Next to no period and next to no cramps started to sound really appealing.
After skipping my period on the pill for 3 months, I had markedly decreased cramping. So I decided to go for the IUD. My doctor warned me that since I haven’t had kids, it might be more painful for me to have it implanted. Apparently it’s not so much to do with the size of the uterus, but more the opening of the cervix and how stretched it is. As it was explained to me, “the cervix prefers things to exit, not enter.” He briefly mentioned that the procedure is a bit uncomfortable, and some women need to go under sedation to have it put in. But he thought I would be able to handle it in-office. He wrote me a script for the Mirena and he strongly recommended that I take ibuprofen and tylenol before the appointment, adding “don’t forget to take it. Trust me on this.”
I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. All the articles I read mentioned “slight bit of discomfort with minimal cramping and spotting afterward.” After 3 years of endo cramps, it sounded like nothing. And, I don’t flinch during pap smears or trans-vaginal scans, I’ve had a hymenectomy and a colposcopy, and I’ve undergone laparscopy. I thought “What’s one more extremely invasive medical romp through my lady bits?”
All my friends who have the Mirena love it. I heard from only one person who said that the implantation was a bit shitty, and there was cramping, but nothing major. Then, there was my friend Josien, who told me it “hurts like a motherfucker.” She said she would be happy to come with me to the appointment for support, and I thought she was totally over-reacting. I told her that I was fine to go on my own, that this wasn’t a Thing and I would be fine. But, in the end, she convinced me that it’s better to have the support and not need it, vs needing the support and not having it. Also, we had agreed to meet up before the appointment to have Krispy Kreme. And I can’t say no to donuts.
I packed my Mirena (discretely packaged in a box the size of a carton of cigarettes, plastered with the MIRENA INTRAUTERINE DEVICE logo on the outside) and my ibuprofen and pain killers in my bag. Josien and I met at Krispy Kreme, where I was so confident that this isn’t a big deal that I ate 6 donuts and chugged a large iced coffee (because sugar and coffee is exactly what you should eat right before a doctor works on you at your bottom end). I was fully planning to walk out of the consult room, look Josien in the eye and be all “What’s the big deal? Let’s go to Ikea.”
But of course, the opposite happened.
Now, I know I don’t have a high tolerance for pain. But I like to think that I handle myself really well and stay very composed during medial procedures. And I was well handled and very composed, chatting away with my doctor and my nurse about my cat, until I out of nowhere felt the first tool enter my sacred womb, and then I was all “WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!?!” very loudly while simultaneously jumping and scooting back over the table. They had tried to distract me by asking me more questions about my cat, but once I felt that first jab, I couldn’t be distracted. I suddenly knew what pain was. I held the nurse’s hand and yelped/cried out “fuck fuck fuckity fuuuuuck fuck fuck” as he continued to slowly open my cervix, enter the uterus, realise the nurse forgot to take the Mirena out of the box, take the world’s longest 10 seconds to open the Mirena, reach back into the uterus with the Mirena, fit it, cut the strings, and close up the shop. It took less than 2 minutes, but it felt like eternity.
The only way I can describe the feeling is: having the worst diarrhoea cramps at the same time that someone jams a 3 foot long crochet needle up your vagina. I’ve never felt such strong, pressured cramps in my life, and I can now personally vouch that the cervix does NOT like strangers in its house. My doctor was great — only going as fast as I could bear it and explaining everything he was doing as he did it. And they both told me I could curse and cry as much as I needed to. I didn’t cry any tears, but holy Lord — that shit was PAINFUL. And the cramps were so rippling that shitting all over the good doctor like I was a hippo actually became a real fear (thank you, Krispy Kreme). Definitely the worst 2 mins of my life.
After he was done, my nurse got me some cold water and I was lying on the table, waiting for the cramps and my urge to vomit to stop. She was telling me that I did really well, that they’ve had girls faint and some girls vomit mid-procedure. I jokingly said “If that was even sort of close to what contractions feel like, fuck that.” And I meant it.
It took about 20 minutes for me to be able to sit up without getting light headed. And when I did, my belly stuck out almost like it did after surgery. I continued my check up with my doctor, and when I walked out of the consult room, I was so happy to see Josien. That bitch was right, I was relieved l to have her there for support.
I felt dizzy and nauseous the whole taxi ride home, and like someone was repeatedly kicking me in the uterus with a pair of cement toe Doc Martens. Once we got to my apartment, I hit the sweatpants and pain killers, and Josien hooked me up with pillows and a blanket and my heating pad. She had brought a get well kit of donuts, Starburst jelly babies (“These are the only babies you need to worry about for the next 5 years!”), and booze, but I felt too sick to partake in any of it. We watched a shitty Netflix comedy called Cuckoo, which is a horribly unfunny rip-off of Son-in-Law (yes, Son-in-Law is funny). When we realised it wasn’t a movie but in fact, a whole season, we said fuck it and rented Son-in-Law. I still felt like I was breaking down bricks in my uterus, but I had Josien waiting on me and we were laughing and making fun of the movie so I was starting to feel better. Also, pain killers.
So now, it’s been 3 days and I’m starting to feel much better. I still have waves of intense cramps, and if I bend the wrong way my lady parts screams at me. But I’m not waking up with cramps when I roll over at night which is good. I definitely feel weird having a plastic wishbone inside of me — and judging by my cramps, my bits aren’t too thrilled about it either. I’m still worried that my body will reject it and do something insane and I’ll end up with Pelvic Inflammatory Disease or Toxic Shock syndrome. And I’m worried about superficial things, like my acne coming back, or that I’ll lose the itty bitty bust line boost that I got from the pill because the Mirena doesn’t have added estrogen. But mostly I’m crossing all my fingers that this keeps the real issues at bay.
And yes, I’ll admit that it’s cool to not worry about having kids for the next 5 years, since a) we’re no where near ready to have kids, and 2) not interested in having them right now. And if I don’t have it taken out before then, I’ll be 38 and it’ll be too late for kiddos. Which is a weird thought. Yeah… that’s a whole other blog topic.
For those of you considering the Mirena/about to have it implanted, let me impart some wisdom I gained. It’s a “simple” procedure, it’s also very invasive. And I wish I could have read some of this before my appointment:
- Bring a support buddy. I was really happy that I didn’t have to drive myself home, because I was so crampy and sick to my stomach.
- Do NOT forget to take ibuprofen and tylenol/panadol 20 mins before your appointment.
- Try to fit the appointment in the beginning/end of your period. Your lady garden is more open and pliable.
- Don’t plan on doing this on your lunch break. Take the day off work. And try to do it on a Friday, or when you don’t have to work the next day. I worked a 12.5 shift the day after getting mine put in and I felt like absolute dog shit.
- Ask your GP for a script for muscle relaxers or a lowkey pain killer that you can take with ibuprofen. You won’t regret it.
- Make sure you have a working heating pad or hot water bottle.
- Lie down, stretch your legs out, and put some pillows under your knee. Put the heat pack on your abdomen. This really helped me with the cramps.
- You’re only going to feel like you’re about to have a massive case of the runs as your doctor is working on you, but it’s not likely to happen. It’s just your body’s sympathetic reaction to your uterus freaking out.
- Soft pants when you’re at home. Or if you’re able to, no pants at all.
- Drink lots of fluid after, especially if you feel nauseas.
- Rest — you’ve basically just had surgery. Take it easy for the rest of the day.
- Whiskey before bedtime really takes the edge off (this is also good for general life)
- Don’t eat 6 donuts before your appointment.
Here’s hoping that I won’t have to do THAT again for the next 5 years!