The complete, mostly unadulterated story of my troubles with the Mirena IUD

or more about my lady parts than you probably wanted or needed to know and definitely more than I ever thought I’d tell you

On Thursday morning I checked into the hospital to bid adieu to my Mirena IUD.

“But wait!” you say. “The Mirena IUD is supposed to be removed at your OBGYN’s office, not at the hospital! You’re doing it wrong!”

And so it is, and so I was, but only because the Mirena started it.

After Pete was born, I talked to my obstetrician about birth control options. He was very enthusiastic about the Mirena and I was very much in favor of taking the path of least resistance, so I made arrangements to have one installed in my person. It hurt like the dickens. That doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone, and I’ve since learned that they don’t recommend Mirena unless you’ve given birth. “Given birth” here differing significantly from “having 2 C-sections,” because sending a child through your birth canal stretches parts that don’t get stretched during a C-section. (Here’s more discussion about cervixes, C-sections and Mirenas, if you are so inclined.)

"health," by amy_b via flickr.com

The immediate aftermath of the Mirena was unpleasant, as I discussed in a 2008 post titled “Fragility.” I still think the Mirena had a lot to do with my crazy feelings then. I think they might want to look into the possibility of warning people who’ve had post-partum depression or a family history of depression that the Mirena could trigger this kind of thing. That is entirely my non-medical opinion, Mirena manufacturers, and you may not sue me for it.

In addition to the crazy-in-my-head feelings, the dizziness and the regularly scheduled migraines, I developed a weird and very itchy rash a few months after the Mirena was put in. I mentioned that to my doctor the day I told him the Mirena was making me crazy, and he said it was eczema and that I should put Vaseline on it and that it would go away. It didn’t.

(Have I mentioned he’s no longer my doctor? Because he’s no longer practicing? That seems worth mentioning.)

I soon started getting weird, dull pains in the area “behind” the rash — on my insides — as well as what I can only describe as phantom baby kicks. They were all localized to the same area, generally behind the itchy spot. I felt for a rather long time that something strange was afoot in my lady bits. But I continued not to do anything about it, because I trusted that my doctor was right that it wasn’t the Mirena. It was just something strange and defective about myself. And so I waited until it was nearly time for the Mirena to expire (or whatever it does) before I went to have it removed.

This is where we get to the delicate lady issue I mentioned last month: My new OBGYN couldn’t locate the Mirena. Even after an ultrasound of the GOP variety, an assist from another doctor and a good deal of very painful scraping about with a hook — “We basically did a D and C,” she said. — she couldn’t find it.

I didn’t cry there on the table, but I did cry in the car. It hurt. A lot, and for many hours thereafter. At my next appointment, the doctor said she and the nurse had been very surprised that I hadn’t cried. I assured them that I had, in the car. They seemed oddly relieved that I wasn’t impervious to pain.

“You’re going to have to put me under if we have to do that again,” I said after the scraping and the ultrasound and the more scraping and poking.

“Oh,” she said after my ha-ha-I-am-lightheartedly-masking-my-pain-remark. “You go ahead and get dressed and we’ll talk about that in a minute.”

To which I thought “No no no, I was only kidding you can’t be serious.” But serious she was, which is how I ended up having a hysteroscopy on Thursday morning. The procedure sounds considerably worse than it is. A scope is inserted into your hoo-ha so the doctors can get a better look at things, and then they can poke around without doing so blindly. It’s relatively painless. Or so I believe. I wasn’t actually cognizant for any of it. The last thing I remember is saying “It’s cold in here!” and the nurse telling me “That’s to keep the germies out! This is oxygen; just breathe normally!” And then I woke up some time later and the Mirena was finally gone!

And do you know where that pesky little IUD was hiding? Here, I made you an expertly rendered graphic of my insides so you can see for yourself!

Yes! It was lodged in the entrance to my fallopian tube, right behind the itchy place and precisely where the weird pains and phantom kicks have been manifesting!

This is all far, far more than I ever planned to share about my lady parts on the internet, but I felt like it was important to tell you the story. Not because of my Extreme Dislike of the Mirena — which is certainly there, but it works beautifully for some people so there’s that — but because I knew something was wrong and I didn’t do anything about it after my doctor told me the Mirena couldn’t possibly be causing any of my symptoms.

So here’s what I’d like you to take away from this:

Listen to your body. Get a second opinion. Find someone who will listen to you when you tell them your body says something is wrong. Find someone who will try to help you find out what the problem is. Find someone who won’t offhandedly dismiss your concerns. Stand up for yourself, even if you are like me and you cry whenever you try to do that. Draft a letter, if that’s easier. (It is for me.) Just make yourself heard. It’s your body, and the doctor is there to help you take care of it. Even if he is really really excited about going rock-climbing over the weekend.* Take care of yourself, even if you have to kick your physician to the curb to do it.

*Yes, really, that’s what we talked about after I told him I was falling apart. Don’t be like me.

  • Amy

    So glad this is all over for you. I somehow missed the part when we talked about how your original doctor is no longer practicing. Yikes!

  • Perry Mason

    Know any good lawyers?

  • April

    Oh goodness! I’m not a believer in any kind of sexism, but I admit that I will only see female gynies, only because I believe there is really no way for a man to empathize regarding body parts he does not have (nor would in think my hubby should see a fema

  • Jan Morrison

    I’m glad you told your story — so that others can learn from it. And I’m glad to hear that you are recovering!

  • Shannon R

    WOW! Thanks for schooling us on this…..we did the pill form birth control and ended up with a child, went on to another form of control and ended up with child #2. Now the tubes are tied…..praying this sticks! 🙂 Thank you, God, for my beautiful children and for NOT letting me go down this dreadful IUD path!:S so sorry for your pain, but hopefully something else will work better!

  • WHAT a MESS! I am really happy that it has been dealt with, and that the doctor involved is no longer practicing. Here’s to you feeling much better!

  • Sandi

    I still think this is so crazy. And I’m really glad it was a hysteroscopy and not a hysterectomy like I thought. 🙂

  • Sinead

    I think we are more inclined to advocate for our kids and family than ourselves. I would take the kids to a dozen specialsts if I wasn’t happy with the diagnosis, but probably only go to the one doctor for myself. Your situation was an important one to tell because it reminds us that we need to trust our intincts. I hope you find a birth control method that works better for you. So sorry you had to go through all of that. I hope Alex and the kids are being superr kind during your recovery.

  • Laural

    Wow. I just read this because I was reading comments elsewhere. I just had mine removed (exact same surgery) and then I put a new one in. Long story short – there were other issues, so I didn’t give much thought to putting a new one in – until right before the surgery. And now i’m in pain – and it’s been a few weeks. But worse, I feel like I’m going crazy. (and like you i had post partum depression). Anyway, i’m glad I read this. I have been back to the doctor who basically said I’m just stressed – and the crazy feeling and pain are symptoms I’m imagining – and to leave it in.

    Seriously. So glad I read this today because I’ve been considering going on meds for depression/anxiety. And now I’m kind of thinking maybe I’m not crazy 🙂