*This is a two-part story. Read the first half for my experience with Mirena pre-pregnancy. (The intros are the same in case you found yourself reading this article first.)
I don’t know if I’ll be having more kids or if I’ll stop at one, but regardless of my eventual choice, I know I’m not aiming to be part of the Two Under Two club. So it was an obvious choice after the birth of my daughter that I needed to get back on some type of contraception. The big question was which kind. I had tried a variety in the previous decade but the Mirena IUD seemed like the best choice. I had Mirena for three years before I had it removed in order to start a family. For the most part I was happy with it, happy enough that when my doctor asked me at my postpartum visit which contraception I’d like to go with, it was a no-brainer to try Mirena again. My experiences with Mirena pre- and post- pregnancy were somewhat different however both times I was able to forget about birth control and just live my life. When/if I’m ready to try again, I can just have my doctor remove it and I can try right away.
Overview of Mirena and IUDs
As of the time of this writing, I believe there are four IUDs on the market in the US. ParaGard, Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta. All of the IUDs are T-shaped and have a string connected to the bottom. ParaGard is the only IUD that is hormone-free and it can last for up to ten years; the others have differing amounts of hormones and last for anywhere from three years to five years. Placement and removal of these IUDs requires a trip to the doctor’s office but after they are placed, you’ll have no more monthly trips to the pharmacy. IUDs work via several mechanisms, including thinning the uterine lining, thickening cervical mucous, and preventing sperm from reaching the fallopian tubes. When you’re ready to try for a pregnancy, you go back to the doctor’s office, they pull on the string and it comes right out, so there is no waiting period to try to conceive.
Mirena – Post-Pregnancy
After I had Baby, I was ready to stay “not-pregnant” for a while. Given a fairly good experience with Mirena before, I opted to go that route again. This time around, I was at a new doctor’s office (I switched offices for unrelated reasons when I found out I was pregnant). I expected to get the IUD placed during my six week check up, but the IUD had to be ordered so the insertion appointment was scheduled for a later time. Leading up that appointment, I once again looked to the forums, only this time. I wasn’t satisfied with reading old posts. I actually posted my own question asking how the insertion procedure went after the birth of the first child as compared to before. Frustratingly, the only responses I got were accounts of how the procedure went after the child was born. Or there were comparisons of the procedure after the birth of the first child and then the second child; that’s all well and good, but the cervix goes through a HUGE change after that first baby is born, changes that aren’t as pronounced in subsequent pregnancies. All I really wanted to know was whether the insertion would be as painful after I’ve had my first kid, or would it be less painful, or even more painful. With no relevant comparisons on the forums, I went to my appointment sweating bullets. I remembered how painful the first insertion was and prepared myself for the worst. I told the doctor I was extremely nervous and he said that insertion would be nothing compared to my four-day induction. Well, that didn’t make me feel better! At least with my induction, I had an epidural. So I asked the doctor if they could use some numbing medication, the stuff that came in the Mirena package, and he agreed. He did mention though, that he didn’t feel like the numbing medication was all-that effective.
I don’t remember if he used the uterine sound to measure the depth of my uterus, if he did, I don’t remember it. What I do remember is me lying there trying not to get worked up, with progressively worse hot flashes, when the doctor says “okay, I’m placing the Mirena now”. At that point, I start a rapid series of deep breaths in a desperate attempt not to pass out. I’m doing a pretty good job at this when he stops and turns to his assistant and asks for the cervix stabilizer (remember the claw, from part one?). Seriously?!?!, I’ve just prepared myself for some pretty intense pain only to be essentially psyched out. It was like having my head in the guillotine, closing my eyes and then hearing, “sorry, we have to replace the blade, take five everyone”. Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but still. As he’s placing that claw device, I notice my hands are super clammy and I mentioned this to him while I’m fanning myself off like a southern belle in the middle of July. I think that was when he realized my nervousness wasn’t just me being “cute”, but that I was afraid down to my core. He does some more adjusting and I’m waiting, listening for the heads up for the second attempt at insertion when he says “okay, it’s in”. I was like, “that was it? I didn’t feel anything!”. Seriously, I felt nothing. NOTHING. To be fair, I did feel pressure from the speculum and the claw, but besides that … nothing. The doctor laughed and said “I told you this would be easy”.
In the days that followed, I got the spotting that I had from the first round, except this time, the spotting only lasted for maybe a month, if that. It’s been three months since it’s been placed and I’ve yet to have a proper period which is amazing. (Which reminds me … I have a stockpile of pads and tampons that I haven’t used in years. What does one do with those things? Can they be donated? Recycled? Do you repurpose them into kid’s crafts?)
I’m not sure what the removal will be like and if I’m still blogging then I’ll let you know, but if the past is any indication, I think it will be a walk in the park.
So in the end, my experiences with Mirena has me a full-on supporter of the IUD as a contraceptive device. It may hurt like a B when it’s being inserted, especially if you haven’t had a child yet, but to me twenty minutes of pain is worth the five years of not worrying about pregnancy.