So small and yet so dangerous.
It looked skipping the last week of the pill was going to be my best option, but then my doctor suggested an IUD, specifically one with hormones to suppress my period. On paper, it seemed perfect. It seemed to be the same hormone dosage I was getting from the brand of pill I was on, it was birth control for 5 years, and I wouldn't have to pick up and pay for a prescription and pills every few months.
I decided to go for it. For the first 10 months I absolutely loved it. I raved to everyone about the Mirena and couldn't figure out why everyone didn't get one. "They're common all around the world, just not this country," I would explain to anyone who would listen.
But then... then everything started to go wrong. At first, it started off small with a yeast infection. Yeast infections are completely normal, right? I had never had one before, so I went to the doctor just to verify that I was okay. My doctor was happy to reassure me and give me a prescription to knock out the infection.
Except the infection didn't go away. For 2 months. When I applied or took medicine, my symptoms went away, but the second I stopped the medicine it would come back. My doctors weren't concerned that it constantly re-occurred. They gave me unhelpful suggestions like stop wearing tight or damp underwear/clothing, stop douching, stop taking antibiotics, stop drinking, lower my sugar level intake, and add more vegetables to my diet. Technically, these are all things can cause a yeast infection to linger, but I couldn't make the changes because I was already doing them. I turned to more natural cures, like garlic, apple cider vinegar, and yogurt, but that didn't help either. Finally, after 2 months, it went away on it's own.
But it was immediately replaced with an even more painful bacterial infection.
For about a month, I tried the antibiotics the doctor gave me, then natural cures when the antibiotics failed (and my health insurance expired). The same thing happened as before: I was okay (not better) when taking medication, but the day after I stopped, it came back nastier than before.
That cleared up after a month, to be replaced my a UTI that hung around for 3 weeks. Identical story with the meds.
Eventually, that too cleared up as suddenly as it appeared. But was I suddenly better? Oh no, definitely not.
I started having severe pelvic pain. The worst were the cramps that would shoot up from my pelvic area to my chest and would strike randomly.
I started getting really tired. I would sleep for about 12 hours a day, I felt incredibly nauseous, my stomach started to get bigger, I felt like I was about to burst, I had to use the bathroom constantly, and I could hardly move. Walking to the end of the block was almost too much pain for me to handle. Finally I saw a doctor, who insisted on an ultrasound and blood work, fearing cancer.
Luckily, it wasn't cancer. Unluckily, it was a massive cyst on my ovary. It had completely flattened my bladder, and had taken over my pelvis area, pushing all of my other organs out of the way. Since I didn't have health insurance surgery was a last resort, and I was sent home and told not to move, unless the pain got much worse, in which case I needed to go straight to the emergency room.
I found some natural treatments for shrinking cysts, and I got myself on that immediately! Apple cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses, beets, castor oil, I tried everything. I also cut out all alcohol, caffeine, anything bad for me. And somehow it worked. My cyst disappeared 2 weeks later - I could tell because not only did the pain go away, but my stomach shrunk and I was able to fit into my clothes again.
I could also walk! It was amazing because walking was something I had definitely taken for granted before.
For a few months, while I kept up my super healthy routine, I didn't develop anything new, though my pelvis and specifically my vaginal canal were still incredible painful. It felt raw to the touch, though the doctors claimed everything looked fine.
Over time, I started to get a little lax and would introduce some take out to my diet. I would have a few drinks here and there. Coffee a few times a week. I always tried to be very careful to monitor my body to make sure cysts wouldn't come back.
Instead I got something much, much worse. Physically, the by now common complaints of vaginal pain were accompanied by breast pain. Putting on a bra became painful. And then the mental torture started. Paranoia. Anxiety. Depression. Thoughts of suicide.
I'm not talking about your "typical" thoughts of depression, paranoia, and anxiety, which, unfortunately, I've had before. This was worse than anything I've ever experienced. For example, I thought my mailman was trying to kill me. I wouldn't go into my bedroom because it overlooked the street and I thought people, working with my mailman, had set up surveillance and sniper rifles. I forced myself to leave the house a few times, once for a baby shower, and I had several panic attacks where I was hyperventilating and basically unable to function on the sidewalk. I don't even want to mention the suicidal thoughts I constantly rationalized.
I had other symptoms that may seem normal but were completely out of place for me: rashes, insomnia (which replaced the constant need to sleep), joint pain.
But you know what finally happened? I started to get very specific cramps that felt like it was originating from my uterus, from my IUD, and I googled some of my symptoms. Everything could be traced back to the Mirena.
EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENED TO ME CAN BE TRACED BACK TO THE MIRENA.
The list of side effects was not that long when I had it inserted, or if it was, it was lacking from my information packet, but it was all there on the Mirena website, with the exception of the rashes and joint pain, but I also attribute that to the Mirena because they went away when I had the Mirena removed.
EVERYTHING WENT AWAY WHEN I REMOVED THE MIRENA.
Well, almost everything. I still have some energy problems, but they've significantly improved in the 3 months that I've been Mirena free.
The worst part of this was that when I went to my doctor, I told her everything that happened to me. I told her all of my side effects and she told me that there was no way that the Mirena was to blame. She told me I had a yeast infection, a UTI, and probably suffered from vulvodynia; I would need to see a specialist.
I insisted that I had none of those things, that it was the Mirena, so she did a few tests. I did not have a yeast infection or a UTI, despite still having symptoms. She was confused, and told me it could be part of the vulvodynia.
I told her my side effects were listed on Mirena's website, and thus, were caused by the Mirena. I wanted it out. She again defended the Mirena and told me it was against my best interest to remove it. However, I insisted, so she finally agreed, all the while telling me that I was making a terrible mistake and I would be back within a month to get another one.
You know what? I felt better within a few hours. 90% of my pain and side effects were gone within a week.
I know the Mirena can do a lot of good for a lot of people. I was one of those people raving about it for the first 10 months it was in me. But the last 15 months it was in me were the worst 15 months of my life, physically and mentally, and I'm putting this up for those who are like me, whose doctors don't believe them, and they can't figure out what's wrong with their bodies. It can get better. Remove the Mirena if it's causing problems. Don't wait it out.
My doctor wanted to put me back on the pill when I removed the Mirena, and I took her prescription because I didn't want to start another disagreement (the previous being whether the Mirena was to blame or not), but I knew there was no way I was going back on more hormones after the horrors I had just experienced.