16 September, 2013

Mirena IUD Journal - August 30th 2013

The device, pros, cons, and why I wanted an IUD instead of Pills.

Read all the journals here

Welcome to my journal based on my IUD experience! I thought maybe it would be a good idea to document what happens to me so that others who are looking into it, or already have it, can see what I'm experiencing so they can get a first-hand look at someone who has gotten it.

About 3 weeks ago I went in to see my family doctor for my PAP and checkup. I had had a bad PAP once when I was 22 in 2007, which meant they found some of my cells were mutated. This can happen for a few reasons but I remember bring terrified. Apparently it happens a lot to lots of women and it's almost never something to worry about. I remember the nurse telling me that if I left it unchecked and it was that one rare case, it could turn into the C word. But she said there were lots of stages before that and I shouldn't worry.

For the next year I went back every 3-6 months for follow ups, and each time my test was clear. After a year of clear tests they take you off the watch list. That was relieving. I had just started birth control a few years before, and had switched it once already. Someone had said it may have been the hormones, or the estrogen in the pills. Either way it was something I didn't want again.

The pill (Alesse) I took first made me nauseas to the point of throwing up and feeling out of commission for several hours during the first 1-5 days of the pill. It was literal torture. With food, morning or night - it made no difference. I felt horrible. I remember asking the pharmacist if this was normal and she told me "unfortunately people with lower body mass are affected more because there are more hormones going through your body and not that much fat or mass to disperse it to." So for 2-3 years I was on that thing, heaving and skipping class due to crippling nausea. 

I changed the brand another time (Linessa), which lead to less sickness, but I was more prone to mood drops and I found myself having a lot of 'lows'. I would feel depressed, sad, or the only other way I can describe it is "monotone." I didn't feel like myself, I felt like I was just going through my life without participating in it.

Another drawback for me was how it affected my libido. I'm a young woman, and was in a long term, committed relationship. I felt myself becoming less interested in having a sexual relationship, and I felt more and more dissatisfied with that aspect of my relationship with my then boyfriend. I'm sure it was a mix of other things as well, but I had no sexual desire or feelings. I thought maybe my relationship was in a rut, and maybe it was, but I felt like this was not normal. I learned some women have less of a sex drive when taking these pills and the hormone concoctions including the dreaded Estrogen affected my libido as well as other women's.

I mentioned this all to my Nurse Practitioner and asked if maybe she knew of or recommended another form of contraceptive. She told me doctors don't really recommend the shot, but there was the Nuva Ring and the patch. None of these seemed appealing to me and I had heard stories about each in a bad light. She then said what about an IUD?

The connotation I had about the term IUD was an old, 70's method that is implanted inside you that is scary looking. She laughed and said it's come along way. There was a brand of IUD, Mirena, (by Bayer) that has a reservoir of Progesterone that releases slowly over time. It was a long term solution, lasting 5 years (other copper IUDs have no hormones and last inside for 3 years). The effectiveness rate for the Mirena is 99.8%, where as the pill when taken 100% correctly was only 99.1, but normally how people take the pill, the effectiveness drops to 90%. This includes people who take it at different times of the day or miss a pill and take two one day. This was definitely me, I would always forget. She said unless you take it at the exact hour and approx minute each day you're looking at 90% or less. That's scary, I didn't know that.

The Mirena is the only IUD (that I know of) that has a hormone, but it's not a myriad of hormones like the pill. IT has no estrogen, which is especially important for me because that's what caused a lot of my libido and mood swings. Also Estrogen (and the pill in general) increases your risk of uterine cancers and breast cancers. That's pretty terrifying that a pill meant to help you can cause so much damage to your body.

After this chat I was super interested in the Mirena. The Nurse told me she had one, and it's been in for about 3 years. She loves it. She said it's a godsend for people who do not have normal periods, too heavy, sporadic, or those that bleed for weeks non-stop. The IUD corrects it and in most cases delivers a normal, light period to those suffering. She said if your period is already regular or light, the chances of having a period at all after a few months or a year increases. Apparently some women notice their period become lighter each month and then disappear forever. 

Of course good comes with bad. Bad is the risk of a perforated or punctured uterus. This can cause infection, and in extreme cases means you aren't able to bare children. The percentage of puncturing is 0.01%, or one in a thousand. I'll take those odds.

I decided right then I would do this, and asked the Nurse to refer me to the gynecologist and prescribe me the actual Mirena to purchase. The receptionist told me that the Nurse would write me a prescription as soon as they got a referral appointment for the gynecologist. I would get a phone call giving me an appointment for an IUD consultation, and then I could pick up the prescription for the Mirena at my family doctor when that happened.

IT took about 2 weeks but I finally got my consultation appointment, and they had written me a prescription for the Mirena that I could fill and bring with me.

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