By the time you reach your 20's, all the contraceptive rage is the Mirena and the Copper T, but the big question is which one is better for you or should you rather stick to the pill. Making sure that you take the pill at the same time everyday 24 hours becomes a tedious task, so who wouldn't want to have a contraceptive that they don't have to work at. The idea of having a contraceptive that does all the work for me, one where I wouldn't have to set a reminder on my phone to take, and one that works instantly is more tempting than words can even describe.
The Mirena is clearly a good option for me...
I recently took the plunge into trying out the Mirena. The reason for my choice was very simple: the Copper T, although apparently more effective as a spermicide, makes you bleed more during your menstrual cycle and I certainly don't want that. Within a year of the Mirena, most ladies will experience a drastic reduction in their menstrual cycle flow and some even stop having their periods all together. Tempting right? Agreed! So, naturally I went to my Gynae and had the Mirena inserted.
What was it like to have it inserted, you ask?
The build up to the insertion appointment ended up making me very tense. I kept asking the ladies that I work with, friends, and other acquaintances that have the Mirena already how the insertion feels, and how they felt a few days after having had it put in. Most of them said that the first day is extremely painful, but more along the lines of a severe period cramp so there was no need to stress too much about day 1, and that the next few days went by as per normal.
I, and I know that I am not alone on this one, suffer from excruciatingly painful period cramps. Ones that end up with me lying on a floor in a foetal position, sobbing, and asking why I was being punished and trying to work out what I had done, if anything so deserving, in the past three weeks that made me feel such pain. Naturally, a serve period cramp scares me, and now I'm voluntarily going to induce one. Any second thoughts? None yet? So let's keep going.
I barely slept the night before the appointment, and whether this was from excitement or from fear I am still not entirely certain. I kept waking up during the course of the night and the early hours of the morning that by the time 04:00 ticked around, I got up and started writing a few things here and there and I caught up on a few life developments.
Now, anxiety is a big part of my life, so when things don't go according to plan or someone runs late, or even makes me late, the panic sets in. My Gynae was running 45 minutes late... Let that just sink in for a minute... I was sitting in his waiting room panicking about him running late with painful thoughts running through my head, I was nervous for the pain that I was about to experience, and in all honesty, who actually feels happy about going to the gynaecologist? Practically NO ONE! Generally while sitting in a doctors waiting room, your eyes tend to wonder around the room at all the other patients. You tend to create fantasy life scenarios and imagine what has brought them to this mutual meeting point. 'She's pregnant, so it obvious what she is here for'; 'She is super young, and is that her mom? Yep, it must be her first.......'
"Ms. van Til?"
"Yes!" Oh thank god it was my turn. It was time to get this over and done with and go home and carry on with my life as normal.
By the time I was on his examination bed ready for the procedure, the palm of my hands where dripping with sweat, so I wiped them on my gown 🙂 . He pulled out a big blue kidney bowl from his cupboard, one that was larger than any other I had ever come across, and in it were the strangest tools I had ever seen - all of these tools frightening to look at. A long slender measuring tool, and two forceps that were practically the same length as the measuring tool. These all go inside of you by the way and there is no escaping them, because they are apparently ALL necessary and serve their own special purpose, inside you... Any second thought yet? Yes??? Now it's too late!
Below Left is a picture of the measuring tool that the doctor uses to measure the width of your cervix and the depth of your uterus. Below Right is a picture that depicts how the device is put into the uterus.
The measuring tool is slightly uncomfortable but bearable, the only thing that hurts is when the tool touches the top wall of the uterus. He puts this tool in to measure how far the Mirena needs to go up and wether or not your cervix is open enough to insert the device. I wrongly assumed that the Mirena would be as uncomfortable as the measuring tool. Oh no, it was 10 times worse. It set on an instant period cramp and there was no build up the day before like a usual period cramp starts. This one came immediately and with full force. I would recommend that you take a hot water bottle of some sorts to soothe any pay you feel after the insertion.
The picture below depicts how the Mirena sits inside of your uterus. The device does not hurt and it very flexible so you don't feel it inside of you.
My story after the insertion was one to remember...
Once done, and back in the waiting room, the receptionist said that I didn't look great and that I looked somewhat pale. I agreed with her because I clearly looked exactly how I felt on the inside and I was in desperate need of some sugar to get my body going.
I didn't even make it to the canteen. I passed out just around the corner from it and woke to a nurse slapping me on the cheek - bless her soul. She questioned me to find out what had happened and the minute I told her that I had just had the Mirena done, she told me that what had just happened to me was normal and that I should sit done for a little while until I felt better and could drive myself home safely. I was more than happy to oblige. It is common to have extreme dizzy spells within the first 30 minutes of having the Mirena placed, but if the dizziness persists then it is most likely that it has been placed incorrectly and if I were you, I would call your doctor and ask his advice on the situation.
20 minutes went by and I managed to work up enough energy to text my boyfriend and tell him the terrible ordeal that I had just experienced. In hind sight, I should have still gone to the canteen to buy a cold drink but the way I felt didn't allow for me to even care for that. I was sweating profusely, and feeling nauseous, as well as extremely drowsy with some HEAVY period cramps, but not to stress too much because I was slouching on the most comfortable couch that I had ever sat on.
My boyfriend and mother offered to come and fetch me from the hospital to take me home because I clearly was not meant to be driving, but their jobs were over 40km away from where I was and it was the middle of the day. I was adamant that I would be well enough to drive within the next 10 minutes, until my boyfriend suggested that my dad, who lived not even 2km away from the hospital come and fetch me and take me home. I jumped at this opportunity and said yes - clearly I was not going to be better within the next few minutes feeling the way I did.
My dad was a great help, and he even carried my handbag for me - such a gentleman. 🙂 He joked about the Mirena and the pain that I was in, and the fact that woman do a lot for contraception. To be honest, I barely heard any of them over the cramps from down below. Once we reached my house, I hobbled straight to my bed and climbed into it. The clothes I was wearing made me feel hot and confined and so I managed to roll out of the bed, change them, and roll back in. During all of this, I decided to put the electric blanket on to help soothe my abdominal pain a little bit. A whole 4 hours late, I woke to my boyfriend coming down the corridor outside the house and was so happy to see him.
The Mirena insertion is 10 different types of awful. I have never experienced pain before like the pain I have with the Mirena in. Apparently the cramping is a very normal part of the device and everyone is different, which means that no one will ever be sure about how long your cramping will go on for.
I have had the device for 4 weeks already and I have only just stopped regular spotting and am now on an abnormal spotting basis with my uterus - we have come to an agreement about the time of day that this happens and whether or not she comes to the party is out of my control.
I started spotting immediately after having the device inserted and it carried on for 3 days thereafter. A few days later, I was scheduled to start my monthly cycle, which came like clock work but my flow was unusually heavy. I still used tampons during my cycle. There is no harm in doing so, you just need to be careful about how you insert it and you need to be gentle about removing it incase the tampon is stuck to the strings of the Mirena.
The best time to have the Mirena inserted is immediately after you finish a cycle so that way the device has virtually no wall lining to get rid of over the few weeks. But I, in usual fashion, did it the opposite way and feel that I might be paying for it with an extended cycle time.
I still have cramps that come very irregularly, but when they do come... they are evil. I could be doing a normal everyday task and all of a sudden... BOOM... it hits me like a thousand needles bouncing around my uterus. The pain stops me in my tracks and is almost paralysing, but not to stress because it only last for about 20 seconds. Why do I still have the Mirena you ask? The answer is simple: I hate taking tablets so I'm just going to stick this one out. The only thing that gives my any glimmer of hope is that the cramps become few and far between as each day goes by, and so one of these days, they are probably going to disappear... until called upon by my next menstrual cycle. Oh the joys of being a woman.
Do you want to know I have actually learnt about my experience so far?
- Ask others about their Mirena experience because their insight is useful.
- The insertion is uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.
- Have a cold drink ready for after the insertion for some energy.
- Have a hot water bottle prepped and ready for immediately after the insertion.
- It's best to have the Mirena done immediately after finishing a menstrual cycle.
- The period cramps drag on for a very long time.
- Spotting is very annoying and can last for a very long time.
- You can still use tampons.
- It is normal to have random cramps even if you are not spotting or on your period.
- Your periods are going to be irregular for about 6 months to a year after having the device inserted.
- I really do love the Mirena so far.
For more information on the contraceptive device and how it works, click here.