Friday, August 5, 2011

Public Service Announcement: Mirena

     Mirena. If you've ever turned on your TV in the United States, chances are you know what Mirena is. Just in case, it's an IUD/ 5 years free of worrying about birth control. You pay the doctor to semi torture you and insert the IUD and then 5 years later you get it removed. That is assuming you are one of the lucky few that doesn't have side effects. To preface my story, I will say that I'm sure plenty of people have Mirena and couldn't be happier with it. That, however, was not my experience.

     Year 1, with the exception of having it inserted was smooth sailing. My period basically disappeared and I never had to worry about taking the pill. Until recently, I thought year 2 and 3 were the same story. Then I ended up chatting with a friend who told me she was having hers removed asap. She's 23 and already has 2 children (and a husband, she's very happy), so obviously my first question was why? She explained...

July 18th:

Friend: I'm fixing to get my Mirena out though, so I'm hoping everything goes smoothly when I get back on the pill.

Me: Why are you getting it taken out?

Friend: It's making me crazy! I have really bad mood swings and I feel like I have extreme PMS 24/7 and I can't control it at all

Me: I get really bad mood swings when I PMS too (Totally true)

Friend: Well I could handle them one week a month, but this never goes away.

Me: Other than no period is that your only symptom? (I'm getting curious at this point)

Friend: I had the mood swings when I first got it, but I figured it was just because Jason Jr was a difficult baby and I wasn't getting any sleep...then Jason deployed so I figured I was just stressed from that. But now my life is great and not too stressful and I'm still having them. I seriously cry at least twice a day lol

Me: I just looked up the side effects and I have 80% of them. Wow!

Friend: My left boob always hurts..I'm nauseous constantly and I gained 10 lbs with it - WHILE BREASTFEEDING! Who gains weight while breastfeeding lol?!?!

SSo, the side effects are different for everyone but some common examples are:
  1. Weight gain or weight loss
  2. Stomach issues: Bloating, cramping, distension
  3. Emotional issues: Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings
  4. Allergic reaction to the hormones
  5. Cardiac problems
  6. Headaches
  7. Death of your sex drive
  8. Bacterial infections
  9. Plus, it has been linked to breast cancer carcinomas

     To review, the side effects suck. At this point I'm thinking back...last year I had unexplained migraines that were horrible and could find no cause. I had an MRI and they found nothing. My diagnosis: stress. This year after a colonoscopy at 22 (so glad I got to experience that 30 years early), an upper and lower GI scan and a battery of other tests, I was told that nothing was wrong. That rock-like knot in my stomach was yet again caused most likely by stress. Awesome. In the end someone suggested that I do an elimination diet to check for food allergies. So for the last year I have been depriving myself of my favorite foods. Previously, macaroni and cheese and pancakes. Yes I know, its a miracle I'm not 400 pounds. The power of your brain is a scary thing. I wanted to stop being sick. I wanted there to be a reason. So, for a little while I felt better. Then I started to have the bloating and stomach distension come back. I must be accidentally eating something with gluten in it I thought...we are in China where 90% of the time you are not totally sure what you're eating.

     For the past year I have been struggling with stomach problems, my skin breaking out, my hair falling out, horrible mood swings, feelings of depression, fear of crowds (awesome in China), brain fog, forgetfulness, etc etc...and it could all be caused by this one little plastic contraption in my uterus. Do I wish I had never had it put in? Of course! Am I thrilled that all those things could go away after having one thing removed? Hell yes!

     As I wrote this originally, I was sitting on the couch in the waiting room of Amcare Women and Children'sHospital waiting to have it removed. It's been a week now and I'm so happy it's out. It takes time for the hormones to leave your system, so I'm still having the symptoms but at least they are on their way out. My final message: yes Mirena is convenient, but NO I would not recommend it. I personally know 3 people who have had it. One's story you read above, the other had it removed after 2 months because she broke into a whole body rash before her body went into labor to expel it and the other who had my symptoms just quicker. Buyer beware.

-Later I will write my first Chinese hospital experience story. Today I am on my way to a whirlwind tour of Beijing with a friend. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and more!