***This blog post contains frank discussion about the Mirena Coil, vaginas, uterus chat, periods, sexual health and contraception. If you don’t want to read about any of this, may I suggest this blog post about finding your own aesthetic and style?***
This post includes some handy images for you to download, keep and refer to when you are in the process of having your Mirena Coil fitted, and for the days that come immediately after. Feel free to share these on social media, but please credit them back to me (@lottie_lamour on Twitter, @lottielamour on Instagram).
You may or may not know that recently I had an operation to treat my endometriosis (you can read all about endometriosis in this blog post I wrote a while ago). It was a great success, and whilst they were rooting around in my nether regions, they gave me a bit of a lady overhaul. I had some ovarian cysts removed, they had a good look around my uterus and they inserted a Mirena Coil. You may also know that I’m gay, I don’t have sex with men, so I have very little need for contraception. So why the hell did I have my Mirena Coil fitted?
We’re going to look at what happened when it was fitted, what happened immediately after, and what life is like for me 3 months down the line, but first – let’s look at the facts about a Mirena Coil:
*There is also a small chance of pelvic infection which is higher during the first 3 weeks of your coil being inserted. Please look out for symptoms of infection. You may have decreased libido as a result of the levonorgestrel. You can read more about the Mirena Coil here*
So, why did I decide to have the Mirena Coil fitted? It was an easy decision – I had spoken to my gynaecologist about managing my endometriosis and the Mirena Coil was mentioned as a way to keep my ridiculously heavy and very sore periods at bay. At the time, my endometriosis was ruling my life and making it very unbearable on a day to day basis so I needed some way of managing that. I had tried The Pill and absolutely hated it (mostly because I am reeeeeally forgetful and I kept missing pills out) and pain management was becoming really difficult for me, meaning my life was being put on hold when I was having a really bad flare up. The Mirena Coil has been trialled as a solution for endometriosis, and the initial results look positive with an initial trial over 3 years proving that endometriosis symptoms decreased, the most being within the first 12 to 18 months, however it’s not known whether the Mirena Coil is a long term treatment as there has not been a study for longer than 3 years.
The day the Mirena Coil was fitted
Most Mirena Coil’s are inserted without any anaesthetic, however I had mine inserted whilst I was under general anaesthetic for my laparoscopy. I spoke to a few girl mates who have had this done and they liken it to a very thorough smear test – uncomfortable, but with an added level of ouch. You can ask your doctor to put your Mirena Coil in under sedation, if you are worried about the pain element.
Most people I have spoken to suggest that you DO NOT get any public transport after you have had the coil fitted. The pain in your uterus immediately after insertion can be overwhelming, and you will need to be as comfortable as possible after this. I’d also book the rest of the day off work after your coil insertion, if you can. Be prepared to feel like you’re having a really bad period – stock up on pain killers, hot water bottles or heat pads, and relax as much as you can. You’ll probably also experience some bleeding so make sure you have sanitary pads or a moon cup at home as you won’t be able to wear a tampon for this bleed, and for your next full period (you can start wearing them again after this time). You may feel faint immediately after your fitting too. If your coil was fitted during your period, it will get heavier and will last slightly longer than usual.
If you suspect that you might be pregnant, do not have the coil fitted. Talk to your doctor before you do as this could harm both you and your unborn child. You also shouldn’t have a coil fitted if you are within 8 weeks of a vaginal birth or 12 weeks of a Caesarian birth – you might be at a higher risk of the coil breaking through your uterus.
You shouldn’t have penetrative sex for 24 hours after your coil is inserted.
The next 3-6 months (at least)
Okay, so here’s where it can get a little bit hairy. I think it’s really important to remember that the Mirena Coil is a LONG TERM SOLUTION to birth control and heavy periods and although the start of the process can be tough, in the long run it is worth the initial pain. It’s also important to remember the reason why it’s painful or uncomfortable – your body is getting used to having a foreign object inside of it, dictating how much endometrial layer to produce. There will be a period of adjustment and it is different for everyone – only you know your limits and comfort levels so listen to your body but also remember the above.
So, the first six weeks for me was the worst. I bled every single day. Some days it was very heavy and very painful (my first proper period) and I was wearing night time pads, changing them every other hour. Other days, it was less painful and there was less blood, but I was definitely in pain for a full month and had some form of bleeding for a full month with no reprieve other than that which was given to me from taking painkillers. I became more emotional, my mental health took a nosedive and my skin and hair became oilier. BUT, and this is a big but, I wasn’t as physically exhausted as I was when I had endometriosis flare ups. This was such a huge change for me and one that made my life so much better that it outweighed all the previous side effects. My partner Emma and my friends (especially my Chloe Elliot) were very supportive of my mental health needs, my skin care regime became stricter to keep on top of my skin changes and I took painkillers every 4 hours without fail to keep on top of the pain. Being strict and doing this almost obsessively is what got me through that first six weeks.
For others, however, the going is a lot easier – I have friends who had period related pain for the first two weeks and then have not bled since other than some spotting. I have one friend who had zero pain but had a lot of bleeding. I have another friend who said it was tough for her just like me but since then, has had absolutely no problems. The first few weeks will depend on how your body adjusts to the coil being in your body. The first few weeks are also where you will find out if your coil was inserted correctly. You should have a 6-week check up with your doctor to make sure that your coil has settled and that the strings are still accessible. You will be able to feel the strings of your Mirena Coil in your vagina when you insert a finger into you vagina. You shouldn’t be able to feel them otherwise. Your partner may feel them when having penetrative sex with you, however. You should check to see if you can still feel your strings every month – if you can’t feel them at any point, see your doctor. Speaking of sex, you should use condoms as an extra layer of protection up until your 6-week check up with your doctor AND if you can’t feel your strings (and you should wear condoms with any new partner that you do not know the sexual health status of to guard against STI’s, all the time, no exceptions). Don’t pull on the threads – you may dislodge your coil.
It’s important to remember that although your body is getting used to things and you will experience pain as a result of this, only you know your body and your limits. If you are worried at all at any time, see your doctor. You will not be wasting anyone’s time, your feelings are valid and it is better to be seen and have nothing wrong with you than to be quiet about your pain and have something wrong with you.
My Personal Journey
It’s 3 months later and I am in zero pain. Can we just say that again? I AM IN ZERO PAIN. I’ve spent the past 5 years of my life being in some form of constant pain or fatigue and I no longer have that pain or fatigue. This has absolutely changed my life. I still have spotting from time to time, but nowhere near what it was in the first 6 weeks. My mental health has slowed down and my skin and hair are still a bit greasy but I’m dealing with that! My libido has weirdly increased, which is strange as they say your libido can decrease, but because I’m no longer in pain or constantly tired, my body can focus on other things now if you get my drift…. My weight hasn’t increased either – in fact, I’ve found myself feeling less hungry than I have done in the past.
I won’t lie, I was very much ready to throw the towel in during those first few weeks. I couldn’t understand why I was in so much pain and why I was having to manage it so closely as well as bleed so much when this was supposed to help me, but I remembered that it was just my body getting used to things and I stuck with it and now I am on the other side of it all and I could not be happier than I am right now. It was SO worth it. I also know that my body still hasn’t finished adjusting, and this all may change, but for now, I am so glad I have the coil. It has completely benefitted my life and has helped to treat my endometriosis. I would recommend it to anyone who has endometriosis especially – you know the pain, you’ve lived with it daily, you can get through the first few months even when you think you can’t – it’s so SO worth it!