1st week after Mirena Replacement

I had my Mirena IUS replaced one week ago, and I’m very happy to say that things are much better the second time around!

I had light bleeding and cramps for 24 hours after replacement, with the cramps decreasing in frequency and intensity as the day progressed, and then just a little light spotting for two days after.

I did feel bloated for a few days, while my body got used to the new Mirena, and I also felt a little out of sorts, like I was having a bad case of PMS; I felt moody, anxious, headachy, uneasy and just generally unsettled for a few days, but this seems to have passed.

I must admit that I was a little worried that I was going to experience prolonged bleeding  like I did after the initial insertion 5 years ago, but thankfully that didn’t happen.  Fingers crossed that my body now just picks up where it left off with my last Mirena, with no periods going forward.

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Mirena Replacement

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!

Mirena positionMy 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.

Five Years with Mirena

I have had my Mirena IUS for five years, and to be honest, even though it was a real rollercoaster ride for the first two years, the past three years have been a breeze.

This was my first Mirena, which was inserted in January 2013 (to read more about that experience and what followed after, have a look through the previous blog posts), and now that five years have passed, it’s time for it to be replaced.

Mirena positionA brief summary of the past five years with Mirena:

Year 1 – Honestly, the first year after the initial insertion was awful.  My periods were heavier and longer than they’d ever been; I was still on a 28-day cycle and had gone from a seven day, heavy bleed, on the pill to a 8 to 10 day bleed followed by three days of spotting each month.  Yes, I did consider having it taken out (on numerous occasions), but I chose to stick with it as I knew things could only improve, and I’m glad I did.

Year 2 – With each passing month, my periods began to get lighter.  Yes, they were still lasting 7 to 9 days in the first four months, still on a 28-day cycle, but with each passing month it went from a period to a light bleed, and then eventually, halfway through the year it suddenly changed to five days of spotting, with maybe a light bleed on the odd day, but nothing that a panty liner couldn’t handle.  By the end of the second year, I was down to just three days of spotting each month.

Year 3 – For the first six months I still had a 28-day cycle, but my “period” consisted of three days of light spotting, only a panty liner was needed.  After I passed the 3.5 year mark, my cycle began to become irregular, with odd days of spotting here and there.  Often it was only one day per month, and not even a full day, only a few hours.

Year 4 – Not much of a period this year, only one day of light spotting every two months or so, except for August (read about that here).

Year 5 – This year was utter bliss, with one day of light spotting in March, two days in May, one day in June, two days in July and then absolutely nothing from August onwards.  Yay, finally no period!

Now that I’m due to have my Mirena replaced, I really don’t know what to expect, as my first one was inserted while I was under general anesthetic, so I didn’t feel a thing and wasn’t aware of what was happening.  To be honest, I’m a little scared of the unknown.  My GP has referred me to a Gynecologist for a consultation, as he’s not sure if I qualify for a free replacement or not, seeing as my first one was inserted overseas and not in NZ.

So, we shall see.  I’ll let you know how the replacement goes in my next post.

Another Pregnancy?

Month 43: August 2016 (3 years, 7 months with Mirena)

For the past year and a half, my ‘periods’ have consisted of literally a few hours of light spotting for a day and that’s it! They’re not regular and I’ve had months with no spotting at all. My “periods” of light spotting last 3 days at most. The last time I had a 7-day long period was in October 2014.

I had one day of light spotting in May, then went 78 days with absolutely nothing (I did a pregnancy test and it was negative). I had another day of very light spotting on 20 July and then ovulated 11 days later. I could tell that I was ovulation from the change in mucus … there was lots of it and it had the consistency of egg-white; wet, stringy and flexible.

ovulation3 days post ovulation (day 14 of my cycle) I began to feel funny. My breasts were sore, swollen and tender and I knew it was two weeks too early for it to be PMS. I was headachy, had lower back pain for a few days and on 5 August, I had severe cramps and nausea. It didn’t feel like a tummy bug, as the cramps were really low down. I immediately thought back to my last suspected chemical pregnancy but this one felt so different. Different symptoms, different time frame.

Four days later, on 9 August (day 21 of my cycle), I got a very early period that started with heavy spotting and then continued on and off for three days before having a full day of light bleeding on 12 Aug. The spotting and light bleeding continued on and off for a few more days and was accompanied by cramps, headaches, nausea and back pain in my lower back and hips. On my second day of light bleeding (14 August) there was this odd looking, stringy clot that looked suspiciously like a tiny, thin, twisted umbilical cord attached to a little lumpy clot. I’m sure this was an early miscarriage after seeing at that!

The spotting, light bleeding, cramps, headaches and back pain lasted for a total of 10 days and I can only guess that this was the termination of another Chemical Pregnancy, as a home pregnancy test showed up negative, but I’m not surprised, as I hadn’t even had time to “miss” a period yet, so I didn’t really expect a HPT to pick up anything.

It’s just scary, as I didn’t think ‘falling pregnant’ with the Mirena was this easy or this common!  The only advice I can give is get to know your body.  If you think you’re ovulating, rather be on the safe side and use extra protection (condoms) during your fertile period to prevent this from happening, if you can.  I know it’s sometimes difficult, as this one snuck up on me, as I ovulated earlier than usual and had been intimate with my hubby the day before I knew I was ovulating early!

* Chemical Pregnancy: A chemical pregnancy is a very early miscarriage which takes place before anything can be seen on an ultrasound scan, usually around the fifth week that you are pregnant. It means that a sperm has fertilised your egg, but later on, the egg fails to survive. Even this early on in pregnancy there is a change in hormone levels which allows the pregnancy test to turn positive. The hormone that your test measures is known as hCG, or human chorionic gonadotrophin. In a chemical pregnancy (or very early miscarriage) the test is initially positive but then your period may start, or a further pregnancy test may be negative. The reason it is termed a chemical pregnancy is that it is only the missed period and positive pregnancy test that show that you are pregnant. It would be too early to see anything on an ultrasound scan.

Mirena and insomnia

NumbersMonth 32 (September 2015):  It’s been two years and eight months since I had my Mirena inserted.  My last blog post was in January and since then, nothing has changed.  I still have roughly a 28-day cycle each month, with a day or two of light spotting and only need to use a thin panty liner.

I did have an odd cycle in June / July, where I had two periods really close together.  I wasn’t sure if this had been due to us flying long distance (I’d flown halfway across the world for a family wedding) and my period was due around the time we flew back home and I always seem to battle with long-haul flights (15 hours or more).  I had my usual two days of spotting a few days after we landed back home and then 17 days later, I spotted again.  Thankfully, I then went on to have my longest cycle so far … a huge break of 55 days between periods and my next one was still only one day of light spotting!   I now seem to be back to the 28-day cycle again.

A few things I have noticed since having the Mirena (and going off the Pill) is that I have gotten to know my own body much better.  After doing a little internet research and reading up on mucus changes during the menstrual cycle (see interesting links tab), I’m now able to tell when I’m ovulating or when I’m due to get my “period”.  I also have slightly different PMS symptoms compared to when I was on the Pill.  PMS used to consist of a week of bloating, cramping, migraines, swollen and tender breasts along with mood swings and food cravings. These days I still retain water (or bloat) and still get sore breasts, but not every month and the mood swings aren’t nearly as severe (this could be because I take 30 Plus NuWoman supplement), but something that I have noticed over the last 4 months is insomnia for a few nights before my period is due.

Apparently, insomnia is a common PMS symptom in women who aren’t on the Pill.  It’s caused by a change in hormones before you start your period.  The Pill prevents this huge shift in hormones and stops the insomnia from happening.  Still, I’d rather be almost period-free and battle with a few sleepless nights every month, instead of having all the side effects from being on the Pill, having a seven day period and having to remember to take the Pill every day! (I find taking my daily allergy medication before bed, instead of in the morning, helps me sleep better on those nights).

Two Years with Mirena

Two years – January 2015.

I finally reached the two year mark and for the last 3 months, I haven’t had a period!  No, I’m not pregnant (yes, I did a pregnancy test 8 weeks after my first missed period), my flow is now so light that it can’t really be classed as a period.

I have one day per cycle (still roughly 28 days) where I spot for about half an hour.  I tend to get a little bit of mild cramping before this begins, so I know when to use a panty liner (sometimes I need to use a liner for two or three days around the time my period would be due, just in case there’s no warning signals) as it’s moderate spotting and I definitely need to use a panty liner but it’s like a once-off little “gush” that happens (like when you’d initially get your period each month) and then it’s all over.  Nothing more than a little inconvenient pinkish-red coloured mucus and it’s done for the month.

Yay, what a relief it’s been!  This has definitely made the initial hassle, prolonged bleeding and inconsistency in the first year and a half worth it and I still have three years to go before it needs to be replaced.

At the moment, I love my Mirena!

Mirena, Ovulation & PMS

If you are wondering, yes, you do still ovulate if you have the Mirena.

Being on the Mirena definitely allows you to be more in tune with your body’s natural processes and you get to see, feel and experience all the natural effects that these hormonal fluctuations have on your body.

I was on the Pill for just shy of 14 years and had forgotten how strong these hormonal fluctuations could be!  I did get PMS every month, but it wasn’t too bad and I hadn’t ovulated in years and then I went off the Pill (doctor’s orders) and got the Mirena … and that all changed.

I now ovulate monthly; some months I feel it, some months I don’t.  Generally, if I’m ovulating on the left side, I’ll suffer with mittelschmerz (or ovulation pain), but the months that I ovulate from my right ovary, I feel nothing!  With the Mirena, I am able to see and feel the changes my body undergoes each month, just by observing the natural, normal monthly changes in discharge.   I can now tell when I’m about to ovulate and this allows us to be a little more careful while I’m most fertile.  Yes, we do choose to use extra protection around these few days (a condom), even though it’s probably not necessary any more now that my periods are so much lighter, but we’d rather be safe than sorry.  We definitely don’t want any unplanned surprises!

If you’re interested in learning more on how to predict when you’re ovulating, head over to my “Interesting Links” page and you’ll see a link called ‘How to tell when you’re ovulating’.

My PMS symptoms have also skyrocketed to extreme proportions!  Last month I retained almost 5 kilograms in water for the duration of the week before my period began.  I seem to store most of this excess water in my breasts and stomach.  I become bloated and my breasts are so swollen and heavy that I actually go up almost two cup sizes and have to sleep with a sports bra on at night, just to help ease the discomfort and pain!  I suffer from PMS worse than I ever did on the Pill, but it only lasts a week and I find that if I reduce my salt intake, the symptoms are less severe.

Update:  I’ve recently begun taking a supplement called “30 Plus NuWoman”, which is supposed to help with bad hormone fluctuations and PMS.  I’ve only been on it a few weeks, but it seems to be helping a lot!  Another supplement that really helps for PMS is “Primeve”.  I was on that for a few years, but can’t get it anymore.