Yesterday, I had my Mirena replaced.
My GP had referred me to a Gynecologist, as my existing Mirena had been inserted overseas, and he wasn’t sure whether I’d qualify for a free replacement in NZ, according to the qualifying regulations. Unfortunately, I don’t have records of my iron count levels prior to getting my Mirena inserted 5 years ago, so I didn’t qualify, even though without the Mirena I have very heavy periods, and had to pay the full price (NZD 347.00). It still works out cheaper than being on the Pill for five years, and I don’t have to worry about having to remember to take the Pill each day, or deal with the nasty side effects of the Pill (pigmentation on my face, periods every month, etc).
So, after the initial gynecology consultation was done by the Gynecologist and her medical student (medical history, etc), I was given a prescription for the Mirena, was sent over to the pharmacy to collect it, before heading back to the gynecology department to have it inserted. I had no idea what to expect, as my last one had been inserted while I was under general anesthetic (read about that here).
I was taken into one of the wards, and was asked to strip from the waist down, wrapping a sheet that they provided around my waist, to walk from the bathroom to the bed. I then had to unwrap the sheet and sit on the bottom of the bed (on a disposable, absorbent bed protector), lie back and place my legs in the stirrups provided. The sheet was draped over my legs and across my belly.
While I was positioning myself on the bed, the nurse was busy getting everything ready, before she fetched the Doctor and student. They came in, the doctor popped a pair of gloves on before doing a quick examination of the position of my uterus. She then inserted a speculum (just like having a cervical smear), and announced that she couldn’t see my Mirena strings and that she needed a device to help remove it. The next thing I knew, there was a very sharp, very painful cramp, and the Mirena was out!
My cervix was cleaned with a cold, wet solution and my uterus was sounded (the length measured, to see where the new Mirena needs to sit), and then the painful part began; insertion of the new one. It didn’t take very long, but there were some very strong, very painful, sharp cramps that accompanied the insertion of the Mirena, but it was all over in a few minutes. Having the nurse talk to me the whole way through definitely helped, as did some deep breathing exercises when the cramps got bad; it helps to focus on something else, other than the pain you’re feeling.
Once it was all done, I was told to lie still for a few minutes, as feeling faint or lightheaded is normal, and it also let the bad cramps pass. I then had to sit on the end of the bed for a few minutes, before standing up, just to make sure that I wasn’t going to faint or feel dizzy. When I felt ready, I got up and went through the the bathroom to change.
Yes, it was painful, and I had taken two ibuprofen before my appointment. Yes, I did cramp for most of the day, yes, there was bleeding, but that’s all totally normal. In saying that, the cramps I felt for the day just felt like bad period pains, nothing like the cramps during insertion. The bleeding was light bleeding, using a panty liner was fine, and it only lasted about nine hours.
It’s day two now, and there’s no more cramping, just a little discomfort. The bleeding seems to have stopped, and there’s just a little bit of spotting. After not having had a period for the last eight months, this all feels a little weird! I’m really not used to this anymore.
It takes about a week for a cervix to recover after having a Mirena replaced, and the biggest risk during that time is infection, so don’t go putting your fingers up to check the Mirena strings, no sex toys allowed for the first week (intercourse is allowed after 24 hours), and no tampons (not that I use those anyway, as I’m afraid the Mirena strings would get tangled in the tampon ‘fluff’ and accidentally yank it out when the tampon is being changed). Just give your body time to heal, and hopefully it’ll hang onto the new Mirena and not expel it during the first few weeks.
Well, I have my fingers crossed that once this insertion experience is all over, I’ll go back to not having a period again.