My name is Lorna and I’m 28. Twelve days ago, on the 13th of November 2013, I had my Mirena inserted. Like many, many females before me, I trawled the internet for people’s personal experiences, so I thought I’d add my own to the mix as I have the added issues of not only being child-free, but of a failed insertion and a retroverted (or “tilted”) uterus (more on those later).
BACKGROUND – IMPLANON, DEPO PROVERA
Let it be known that I am the first to call myself incredibly lazy. I cannot even make it through a simple week-long course of antibiotics without forgetting some. As this is the case, the Pill is obviously not a contraceptive option for me. Nor is anything that requires much effort on my part. I looked for the easy options, and first came across the Implanon at the suggestion of a close friend. She herself had it, and loved it. She never bled or had any adverse side affects.
As with all contraceptives, we all have different experiences, and mine could not have been any different to hers. My libido disappeared and sex became incredibly painful. It was as if my boyfriend had to force his way in, and it hurt like hell every time. I started bleeding almost immediately and it got heavier and heavier, until I was having period-strength bleeding but without any reprieve. I was hugely depressed and anxious. I put on weight and couldn’t stop eating. I went to visit the doctor to stop the bleeding, and they prescribed me a course of progestin pills to “reset” my body. It worked fantastically… for about a week, and then we were back to bleeding. As the pills were simply the oral form of the Depo shot, and my bleeding stopped immediately whilst on them, I decided to remove my Implanon and switch to Depo.
The day after my Implanon removal, I felt as if a curtain had been lifted. I could immediately notice the absense of the depressed feeling I’d had. The bleeding ceased and it was wonderful…
… For a while. My libido didn’t return, but sex was no longer as painful. The bleeding would stop until a few weeks before I was due for a new shot, which wasn’t awful. However, my weight kept ballooning out of control. In the six months I was on Depo, I gained at least 7kg (that’s 15.4 pounds). That’s on top of what I’d gained with the Implanon. It wasn’t that I was gaining it for no reason; I simply could NOT STOP EATING! I would eat a huge dinner and then immediately open a bag of chips. I’d eat until I wanted to vomit and even that wouldn’t stop me. I knew that the Depo wasn’t for me, so I called up Dr Marie to make an appointment for a Mirena.
MIRENA – MAKING THE APPOINTMENT
My forum trawling has taught me that it is very hard for some child-free females to find a doctor willing to give them a Mirena. This seems mostly to be because the cervix hasn’t gone through the dilation of childbirth, and therefore makes insertion difficult or more painful. Pregnancy with Mirena is also likely to be ectopic. However, one phone call to Dr Marie (that’s http://www.drmarie.org.au in Australia) squashed any doubts I had in respect to getting it inserted.
I spoke with a very kind and friendly gentleman. Let’s call him “Ben”. I told him I intended to make an appointment for a Mirena insertion, and waited for him to tell me “no”. He ran through the important stuff: “Have you had a child?” (“No”), “When is your next menstrual cycle due?” (“I am on Depo and don’t currently have a cycle”). Hmmm I thought, it’s not looking good for me!
… Or so I thought. Nope, Ben was on top of it. “Okay, no worries!” He cheerfully replied. “As you won’t be bleeding, we’ll need you to abstain from sex for two weeks prior to your insertion. It can help soften the cervix. As for having no children, some women would describe the procedure as painful. You can opt to have the procedure done under a twilight sedation, but it costs extra (FYI – $250 for local anesthetic, $500 for sedation, both including the cost of the device). How would you describe your tolerance for pain?” I told him I have a high tolerance, and he laughed and we had a joke about it all. It was very non-threatening. Ben made me aware that Dr Marie offers 24/7 phone counselling if I had any concerns before or after the procedure. He told me to take Ibuprofen before the appointment, to bring some spare undies and a pad, and that was it. Appointment booked.
I took the day off of work (Ben assured me a sick certificate would be provided) and arrived for my appointment…
After a wee-test to confirm I wasn’t pregnant and a run through of all the appropriate paperwork, I was ushered into a tiny change room by the doctor. He handed me one of those oh-so-fashionable backless paper robes and instructed me to undress and put my knickers into a little bio-hazard bag. Nice. I was then taken into the typically white-and-hygenic-looking surgery room, and put on my back with my legs up in stirrups. “Sorry Lorna,” the kindly doctor apologised, “there’s just no ladylike way to go about this!”
There were two nurses who went about taking my blood pressure and keeping an eye on my pulse. The doctor inserted the speculum and took a quick pap smear and chlamydia test (optional, but why not get everything done at once?). He then poured some cold antiseptic over my vulva and gave a local anesthetic injection to my cervix. The nurse who was monitoring my pulse told me that something that had just been stuck up my vagina contained adrenaline, and that it was common for my heart to be racing.
The doctor announced he was going to measure my uterus. What followed was the most excruciating pain I’ve ever felt. He tried again… and again. I believe he bent or damaged two of the instruments he was using. I was gasping and trying my best not to cry out. The nurses kindly encouraged me to swear if I needed to (“We’ve heard it all!”), but I began to feel light-headed. I had an overwhelming sensation of needing to urinate, and I was terrified I was going to ruin the poor doctor’s day. My pulse shot through the roof and my blood pressure went crazy. I had both nurses rubbing my arms and trying to soothe me. “You’re doing so well, so well!” they crooned. You know when a nurse says that to you, shit ain’t going well at all. Although I must say, I did feel accomplished because I hadn’t pissed all over the doctor’s head yet.
Eventually the doctor stood up (piss-free, thank God) and told me he wasn’t going to insert the Mirena. “You have a retroverted uterus. I can do it, but I can’t do it without seriously hurting you, and I promised you I would never hurt you. Come back and have a twilight sedation.” The disappointment was shattering but his concern for my well being was personal and touching.
I can’t explain how crushed I felt for the rest of the day. I went home and cried, and cried, and cried. I was worried my neighbours would think I was being murdered and call the police. A retrovered uterus? I felt broken. Along with a string of other physical issues (I have psoriasis, had to undergo a breast reduction for my health, and more), I just felt like it was one more part of me that was broken and ugly.
Eventually, I pulled myself together, accepted that I would have to pay twice as much to have a sedation, and re-booked my appointment.
INSERTION, ROUND 2 – SUCCESSFUL!
I returned to the clinic with my boyfriend in tow (carer’s certificates are also provided at Dr Marie), as a “support person” is needed to drive you to and from a sedation appointment. I was required to fast beforehand this time; No eating for six hours prior, no water for two. Despite the doctor’s assurance that he could do it, I was feeling pessimistic and expecting another let down. The brilliant news I discovered upon paying is that the sedation was covered by my private health. PHEW! I only had to pay $300 ($250 for my excess, plus $50 for the device), rather than the full $500. Only $50 more than what I would have paid had it been successful originally. That took quite a load off my shoulders.
Once again I peed into a tiny jar, put on my paper robe, and was taken through to the surgery. This time was different. I didn’t have to put my legs up into the stirrups (I assume they gave me the dignity of waiting until after I was asleep to hoist them up). They put a needle into my arm and told me they had administered some “happy drugs”. I apologised in advance for saying anything silly, and they all laughed and told me they hoped I would. An oxygen mask was placed over my mouth and nose, and I lay waiting for the doctor to arrive, feeling slightly disappointed that the happy drugs weren’t as “happy” as some others I’ve had.
The doctor came in, and one of the nurses said “okay, off to sleep now!”. What happened next was wonderful. I remember light and listening to people talking, so I assumed the procedure hadn’t started yet. However I then have a brief flash of getting into a wheechair under my own steam, and the next thing I know I’m plopping myself into a recliner in the recovery room, feeling slightly dazed. The whole procedure felt like it took about 30 seconds, whereas in reality it was probably more like 7 or 8 minutes. “Did it work??” I frantically asked, and all of the surrounding nurses calmly and positively told me everything was fine, and I now had my Mirena.
I sat in recovery for about 20 minutes, nibbling biscuits and talking to some nurses. I easily walked to the toilet on my own. A nurse asked me to report what was on my pad when I came back out. “Barely anything, but there was a bit fresh blood when I wiped”, I replied. She was very happy with this. I was slowly feeling more alert. I was allowed to play with my phone, and I messaged my boyfriend who was in the waiting room. He told me I’d barely been gone for any time at all.
After the 20 minutes passed, I dressed myself and went to retrieve my boyfriend. The nurse who had originally gone through my paperwork was at the reception desk, and she triumphantly gave me a little clap. “Finally!” she grinned. I was still a little fuzzy in the head, so I think this is where I actually realised it had been successful! I was so happy.
My boyfriend reports that I was incredibly coherent and together on the way home, although it’s all a bit blurry to me. Twilight sedation induces amnesia, and while I may have felt like I was asleep, in all likeliness I was conscious to some degree throughout my insertion. This explains why I can remember lights and talking. This was my first twilight sedation, and I cannot recommend it more highly. I’ve reacted very poorly to general anesthetics in the past, so I was concerned, but apart from my hazy recall I felt fine. My boyfriend and I went home, watched a movie, and I dozed off.
The cramps following the insertion were quite painful. I dosed up on ibuprofen and kept my wheat bag handy. Incredibly, any and all bleeding I had disappeared. I had been bleeding during the lead-up to my second appointment, as I was going through Depo withdrawal. The Mirena stopped it instantly. Apart from the fresh red blood I reported in recovery, I was blood-free. I’m pretty sure my cervix freaked out at all the abuse it had received, and closed for business.
I had a bath that night and felt for the strings. The best advice I had seen online was to “locate your cervix, and then twirl your finger around it”. I felt them with no trouble, although touching them seemed to bring on another cramp. They did not feel too sharp or pointy, and I think the doctor positioned them up around my cervix rather than leaving them hanging down. My boyfriend reports he cannot feel them.
I have kept notes on the symptoms I’ve experienced these past 12 days. My cramps have fluctuated from mild to OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLOUCH. Ibuprofen is your friend, keep it nearby at all times! I started spotting a few days ago, had a day of what would have been light bleeding, and am now back to practically no blood loss. My theory is that the lining in my uterus was already shedding from the Depo withdrawal, so the post-insertion bleeding many women get just didn’t need to happen to my body.
As for the cramping, I have made the connection that I cramp when I need to go to the bathroom. As I have a retrovered uterus, it tilts backwards towards my spine rather than forwards as it should. This results in it squishing against my “poo pipes”. Learning I have a retroverted uterus has also connected the dots as to why I get so much gut-pain during periods. I can now go full days without taking any pain killers, and cramping is very infrequent.
I hope that for any of you out there who are child free or wonky-uterused, this might have helped you feel some hope that a Mirena insertion is possible for you. My failed procedure was devastating, but so far, so good. I will continue to update with my experiences, and would love to hear about yours. 🙂
POST-SCRIPT: DR MARIE STOPES INTERNATIONAL
As I have mentioned many times throughout the above post, I had my Mirena inserted with Dr Marie Stopes International, at their East St Kilda clinic in Melbourne, Victoria. I CANNOT recommend them more highly. From the phone conversation with Ben, to the admission nurse, to the lovely doctor who was so concerned with my comfort, to all the other nurses and staff in between… each and every one of them was wonderful. I can’t speak for all of their clinics, but if my experience is anything to go by, Dr Marie is a great way to go about getting yourself a Mirena.