Two Sundays ago I celebrated five years with my boyfriend. I also celebrated two years with my mirena coil. I am still unsure as to which one was the bigger moment. My boyfriend, admittedly, probably wins. But it’s close.
For reasons best known to myself, I booked into go and get the marina coil fitted on the 21st January 2016, on mine and Alex’s third anniversary. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life, but this was one of the biggest. It was huge. Catastrophic. Literally the most stupid thing I’ve ever done.
I breezed into the doctor’s surgery imagining nothing worse than a smear test and left feeling like someone had put their hand up my vagina and started a fire in my uterus. I’m not sure that there is any experience that will make you feel less like celebrating three years with the love of your life than this. But then again, I am booked to go and get my breasts put through a shredder for our sixth anniversary, so I’ll keep you posted.
Getting the coil fitted was truly, truly awful, an experience I will never willingly put myself through again.
It was also one of the best things I ever did, a decision that I do not regret in the slightest and something that I would whole heartedly recommend.
So let’s get to it shall we, let me tell you my mirena coil story.
I was put on the pill in 2011 by a nurse at my school because I was having incredibly irregular periods, was getting bad cramps and was fast approaching a time in my life when I wanted to be safe. I also, probably, wanted to be like my mates, so as soon as I felt like it was appropriate I started with the 21 tablets of micrognym a month, as prescribed.
I got on fine with it, I knew a lot of people on the same pills were having problems with acne, weight gain, mood swings, but if that was the case for me they were not serious enough symptoms for me to think of it as anything more than being a teenager. In late 2012, maybe early 2013 I was taken off micrognym and put on something else, for the life of me I can’t remember what it was called or why the change was made.
I continued to take one pill (almost) every morning and although I grew to hate it and how I had to remember it every-single-day, it was fine.
It wasn’t until I went to a doctor at the end of 2015 to get a repeat prescription that it was suggested I get off it. I was a smoker, and the two things don’t go hand in hand, I was clearly forgetful and that’s not the ideal trait of a pill taker, I had also been on it for coming on five years and it is generally advised that you don’t stay on it that long. My doctor suggested the mirena coil, my mum, who had had it for years, agreed and before I knew it I was booking in for my doctors surgery’s only available appointment: on our anniversary.
The mirena coil is a small, plastic T-shaped device that’s inserted into the uterus. Once inserted it releases the hormone levonorgestrel (a synthetic form of the female sex hormone, progesterone) into the womb and unfortunately, I had a really, really bad reaction.
Most people who have had the mirena coil fitted describe it as ‘uncomfortable’, a ‘pinching sensation’, ‘no worse than a period cramp’, this was the rhetoric being fed to me from every angle; sure, there will be nicer things in your life, but this isn’t that bad.
I have long since suspected that those people, after leaving the procedure room were not only given some paracetamol but the instruction that under no circumstance must they tell future coil-ers how much it really hurts. Tell them it’s fine, I imagine the doctors saying. OK, I will… I imagine the crying, sweaty, broken women replying.
I’d know that to be true if I wasn’t about to tell you, unprompted by a threatening doctor that, in spite of my bad reaction, it’s still something worth doing.
I arrived in the procedure room and was instructed to lay on the bed, legs apart – fanny out. It’s awkward, of course it is, but it’s fine. The doctor was there, wearing gloves and looking confident.
My first piece of advice would be to remove yourself as much as you can from this process, try and see it as something purely anatomical and do what you can to remove self-consciousness from the situation. This is what doctors do. This is what they train for. You need something inserted into your uterus, there is only one way to get something in there. This is the only way, a means to an end, a practically placed passage.
I was sweating a bit, and shaking but the doc was great and told me to relax. Would have been more inclined to listen to her if she hadn’t been reaching for a long plastic device at the time.
The device in question is called a speculum and it is inserted into the vagina and then used to open the cervix, I was offered a varying range of sizes, I asked for the smallest one (obviously). This is then inserted (uncomfortable but pretty much fine) and used for the opening procedure.
This does hurt, a bit, I won’t sugarcoat it. What do you want me to say? Your cervix is being wrenched open. But it was fine, really, it was. Sweating, a tad uncomfortable, but fine. Still breathing.
This is when shit went wrong.
The coil itself is then sent up the speculum (I think, I couldn’t really see what she was up to down there) whilst flat, pushed into the uterus and once there, is opened, like an umbrella. It sounds simple enough, but my vagina was having absolutely none of it.
The minute it touched my cervix my body did everything it could to reject the foreign body that was being put there by force. It met fire with fire and did something I will never forgive it for: it produced a contraction. Yes, A CONTRACTION, a tiny contraction, I grant you, but enough to put me off kids for a long while.
So far, so not good.
This was a pain I hadn’t expected and I was starting to feel really sick, I was also screaming. The doctor tried again, again my body said a big no thank you. After the third attempt the doctor suggested we call it a day. I told her that we would do no such thing. I did not sit through twenty minutes of agony and have a CONTRACTION, just so we could quit. I was not leaving this room until it was in place.
She applied some local anaesthetic and, since I’m stubborn as hell, and my vagina seems to know that, thank God, it was lucky number four.
After I stood up I was white as a sheet, feeling like I was going to vomit all over the floor and drenched with sweat. I was at least feeling euphoric.
The ‘just a pinch’ people had told me that the pain would only last a couple of days, they seemed to be finally telling the truth. I limped home, crying, calling everyone who had told me it wouldn’t hurt and telling them to go and fuck themselves. Once I got back I cuddled the life out a hot water bottle, cried a bit more before it was time to pull on the glad rags and go and celebrate three years with my man.
Two days later the pain had all but vanished.
I had a period the month after that, a bit of light spotting in March but since then have not so much as thought of a tampon. Although I still get spotty at that time of the month (right now), my need for sanitary products has gone and the only bloating and stomach pain I experience is a byproduct of my IBS (a story for another day but read a bit about it HERE).
The only real bugger has been that there are a lot of wankers out there and all it took was the immediate aftermath of the fitting of my new uterus bling for them to appear; they flocked to me, jumping over one another to tell me that they were conceived on the coil, or that they knew someone who knew someone who had had a nightmare with it. I hate these people, even more than the ‘just a pinch’ers.
Occasional horror story aside however, there is very little reason for me to think about my mirena coil anymore. You’re supposed to check on it every couple of weeks but this is easy enough. There are two little strings that hang down from it (don’t worry, internally, you’re not going to feel like one of those toys that talks when you pull a string), and you can generally feel for them fairly easily.
I actually had a bit of a crisis with a whopping ovarian cyst a couple of months ago but it was a nice opportunity for me to have a look at the little thing via the miracle of ultrasound – it’s happy as larry it seems, even after all this time.
You can keep the mirena coil in for five years, ten at a push. The doctor suggested we book an appointment to get it replaced, I told her that under no circumstances were we to go through that again, if that thing comes out, it comes out for good. She was either going to need to wait for me to want babies, or hit the menopause.
I am assured though, that getting it taken out is darn sight nicer than getting it put in, and not just from the ‘just a pinch’ers.
So yes, it was horrible. The day, the pain, all of it.
It was also something that I am really, really, really pleased to have done.
An hour of pain and two days discomfort, when you think about it, is a very small price to pay for a period-less life.
Couple that with the fact I’m not pregnant???
Winning. So, so winning.
I really do recommend the mirena coil, in spite of it all. If ya wanna read more about it head over to the NHS website.