Before our second daughter was born, I already knew I did not want any more children. I always wanted 2 because the oldest is your first born and the youngest is your baby. I did not want to have more to make any of my babies a middle child [if that made sense]. Therefore, once we had our second baby girl, I talked to my OB and we decided to try an intra-uterine device (IUD) as a form of birth control.
Mirena is a small T-shaped IUD that is inserted into the uterus which releases small doses of progestin hormone that aids in the prevention of pregnancy. How it exactly works is not known, however, it works in many ways [inhibits sperm from reaching egg, thickens cervix, thins uterine lining] and it is believed that the combined actions together prevent pregnancy.
Inserting the Mirena
Mirena is placed inside the uterus by a trained medical professional . It only takes a few minutes and the procedure is non-surgical. It may be slightly uncomfortable, but the process is painless and rather quick.
If you recently had a baby or are breastfeeding, it is advised to wait at least 6 weeks post-partum before getting Mirena. You may want to discuss alternative birth control methods until then, or get more information about the hormone progestin passing into the breastmilk.
What to Expect After Mirena
My OB gave me several side effects of using Mirena and advised that in most cases, these were not severe and varied between different women. Side effects generally include those that are common with most birth control pills/hormones and they include:
Missed period, bleeding/spotting, pelvic pain, back pain, cysts, migraine, fatigue, weight gain, acne, changes in hair growth, depression, low sex drive, puffiness in face, hands, and feet, rash, changes in mood, nausea, and/or dizziness.
My Personal Experience with Mirena
During the first few days, I had heavy bleeding and cramps. It was like having day 2 of your period, and it was not pleasant. The pain subsided, but I continued to experience spotting every day. Infact the spotting [some days on the heavier side] continued until several months after the insertion of the IUD. I was getting rather annoyed by it because I thought that I would not be getting my periods. Yes, spotting isn’t as heavy as a period but it’s still there. After the first 4 months, the spotting became light to almost none.
Besides spotting and cramps, here are some things I noticed the most. Infact I did not, but my husband did! HE was the one who pointed out these sudden changes I was experiencing since getting Mirena.
This was a very big change for me. As you all know that I lost my father and a pregnancy 2 years ago. I don’t believe I have completely healed from that experience; certainly not from losing my father. However, after getting Mirena, I noticed that I was more depressed than usual. I had rapid mood swings that went from depression to fiery anger in minutes and then back to depression again. At first, I thought that I was overwhelmed with work and both kids, and just life in general. But that was not the case.
After giving birth, my doctor ruled out post-partum depression as I was not showing any signs of it, and even though I had my good and bad days, I was not depressed to the point of being non-functional. Anger was something that crept up more often than before, maybe because depression was making me weak inside and out and being angry was my subconscious way of expressing or even asking for help.
We all have our moments but after some self-care and R & R, we shake things off and get on with our busy lives. But that was not the case for me. I felt trapped, paralyzed with negative and unhappy thoughts and feelings, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t shake them off completely. I felt as if I was falling in this dark abyss and no matter how much I tried to pull myself out of it, I just could not. I cried a lot because I hated feeling this way, and I felt insanely sensitive and touchy every single moment. My husband noticed these changes in me, and he told me that something was wrong! I am super woman to him – super mom, super wife, the lady who can handle everything, the recovering perfectionist who can balance it all no matter what. But here I was feeling low, miserable, angry, sad, and ridiculously negative all day, every day.
He told me it was the IUD! Anything external introduced to our body always has some side effects, he says, and in my case, getting Mirena became the catalyst to my depression. There are several factors in my life that can or may have resulted in my depression, but if they needed to surface, I would say they did these past several months after I got Mirena.
So, if you have seen my post about post-partum sex, you already know the gist of things! Nothing kills your sex drive like a baby does, but after I got Mirena, my desire for anything physical basically evaporated from my system. I did not want to be touched AT ALL, and I am not kidding here. I love my husband, but I felt confused, lost, and distant. I did not feel any sexual desire, and not just mentally because I was tired or depressed, but physically also, like I had no spark what so ever!
After getting pregnant with our second baby, I told myself that I was going to be careful and not gain much weight. I was 40 lbs heavier after the 1st kiddo and even though I do not have diabetes or BP or anything, I was very careful and gained only about 22 lbs with my 2nd pregnancy.
2 months post-partum and I lost over 25 lbs! WOOHOO! Go breastfeeding! But yes, seriously, all my baby weight was lost and I was back to my old self.
After getting and being on Mirena for almost 7 months, I gained over 30 lbs., and not just on my belly or thighs, but on my arms, and face as well. Depression makes you avoid mirrors and not give a rats ass about how you really look. And I never really care too much about being curvy/plus size as long as I feel confident and am healthy. BUT, this time, I noticed the change! My mom even said it, and you know that when moms say it, then something is definitely wrong.
After much hesitation, I weighed myself and was shocked to see the numbers on the scale! What happened? I had not made any crazy shifts to binge eating sugar or world’s most fattening food, so what happened? Well, Mirena happened! The drastic change in my weight could also because of my depression because depression raises cortisol levels in your body, which help weight gain. Additionally, a depressed person tends to have slow metabolism [blame the sympathetic nervous system yo!], and is less likely to exercise, watch their diet, or do things that reduces weight.
So, there you go. My Depression -> My Weight Gain -> My Depression = Vicious fucking circle!!!
This was a doozy one for me! I complained of dizziness on several occasions and my husband said it was probably due to lack of eating or sleep. But now [having taken Mirena out!- details below], I do not feel light-headed or dizzy any more.
I got lots of these too! And they were more painful than I used to get when I had my periods. The pain was more focused on the lower abdomen and lower pelvic area. They would come while I was spotting, and sometimes without it as well.
I have written this article only so I can share my own experience with using Mirena. Different women have different experiences with birth control, and some prefer to use it despite the side effects. However, I believe that it is good to be informed and learn from each other’s experiences so we can make the best choices for us.
Mirena did not work for me! Despite being a low hormone IUD, whatever it did or does, did not suit my body, especially my mood!
After using it for 7 months, I had Mirena removed, and I will tell you that it has made a huge difference for me. My weight did not magically drop, but my depression levels did!!! I feel so much better, more positive, less irritated, and more in control of how I feel.
I know that it will take some time to balance my body’s hormone levels to get back to what it was, but I am hopeful and glad that I made this decision to get rid of the IUD from my system.
Update January 2020: It has been 9 months since i had Mirena removed and my period has still not started. I have a doctor’s appointment end of this month to see what is happening.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. All the information in this blog post are from their respective sources provided within the post. I have shared what I have experienced personally, and it does not mean that our experiences will be similar. Please consult your OB and use your own judgment when making any decisions from this post.