I’ve always felt lucky when it came to periods. I didn’t have cramps, they weren’t particularly heavy and didn’t last very long. Usually, I bled for four days every 32 days and was always regular. All this changed when I hit 40 and my period turned into a raging river. Thankfully help has come in the form of an IUD for heavy periods, which has given me back energy and confidence.
The arrival of the big gush
I can clearly remember when my periods began to change and I started to consider a Mirena IUD for heavy periods. My cycle went out of sync, arriving early and suddenly. I felt hot, wet blood gush down my legs while I was on stage hosting a conference. I was wearing a skirt suit in front of an audience of mostly men. How I kept it together, I do not know.
Thankfully, there was a coffee break shortly after the gush. I rushed to the loo and mopped up what looked like a murder scene. I didn’t have my usual bag with me and was without emergency sanitary stuff. There was none in the toilet and I had to invent something out of a lot of twisted toilet paper to get me through the rest of the day and the drive home. It was mortifying.
From that moment on, I lost confidence around the time I would get my period. I began turning my clothes around to check for leaks, secretly moving on my chair seat at work to see if there were marks, and waking in the night to check the bed. I asked my mom if this was normal. She replied: “Oh yes. It just happens!” I remember feeling really angry that no one warned me about heavy bleeding during perimenopause.
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Changing my life to fit around my period
Fast forward five years and my period became a lumpy overflowing soup of clots. I dreaded my period every month and tried to avoid booking a holiday or an outing when I was due to get it. I would try to work at home during the two peak days each month.
I also had to rethink my wardrobe drastically, going for black trousers and jeans to cover up any leakage. And don’t even get me started on sanitary wear. Upping the absorbency did little to help. In the end, I was so drenched that the tampons just fell out. I was wearing pads made for the night during the day. At night, I would wear double pads, and use a tampon and underwear. I would still flood the bed – I should have invested in bleach companies.
When I went to my healthcare provider, the nurse who did an ultrasound showed me some fibroids, but not big enough for treatment. They suggested a Mirena IUD for heavy periods as a treatment, but at the time I was going through a year of sex-related urine infections. I think I had 11 healthcare provider visits and nine sets of antibiotics in a year. A Mirena? No way. I didn’t want anyone messing down there after the year I’d had.
I carried on living with dreadful heavy periods and it got worse. I went to the toilet and would use a quarter of a roll to deal with clots on the floor that just rushed out. I was exhausted, tired, and fed up. I began to freak out about how much worse it was going to get.
What does it feel like to have a Mirena IUD?
It was now six years after I first noticed my periods changing and I went back to the healthcare provider out of desperation. She talked about the Mirena IUD again. “If it triggers UTIs, we can take it out,” she said. I was so desperate that UTIs seemed preferable to losing so much blood every month and worrying about leaving slug trails everywhere.
The Mirena IUD insertion procedure was explained and I was shown the little alien sputnik-looking implant. I would be left with two little strings hanging down that would soften over time. I had an ultrasound to make sure there weren’t any issues before insertion. The fibroids were smaller and she was confident the Mirena IUD was suitable for my heavy periods.
For the procedure, I lay on my back with my legs bent and the Mirena IUD was inserted. There was quite a lot of wriggling about. It wasn’t painful and it wasn’t comfortable either, a bit like a picnic on a pebble beach. The whole thing was over quite quickly.
The healthcare provider said I would bleed for a few weeks, that I should feel for the strings in a couple of days and she warned that it would take at least 12 weeks to settle. I was given a follow-up appointment.
Mirena IUD pain in the first few weeks
The next day was painful and it felt like I had a dry, uncomfortable tampon up there. I felt inside and could feel the strings at the top of my cervix. I was bleeding quite a bit after a week and I could feel something sharp digging in me when walking.
Three weeks later and I was still bleeding, plus the uncomfortable feeling came and went. I had to unhook my Mirena IUD strings from the top of my cervix as it felt like they were digging in after exercising. I became hyper-aware of the pain and started Googling for advice – don’t do that if you want to remain calm! I began to worry it wasn’t in the right place.
At my review appointment, I said it didn’t feel right. She had a look and said the strings had hooked around the top of my cervix and needed to be shorter. They trimmed the strings and I had an ultrasound to check all was ok. It was in place perfectly.
Mirena IUD and lighter periods
After week eight of the Mirena IUD, no periods! The bleeding stopped and I didn’t notice that it was in place anymore. I had a period at week 12 and it was so light, it didn’t even make a mark on a pad. Can you imagine the joy of that? Even if I get my period now, it’s so light no one is going to know. I am almost at the point where I feel lighter color trousers could be an option and I can move out of my temporary goth era.
A Mirena IUD does need some perseverance at the beginning as the last thing you will want when you suffer heavy periods is a long period for weeks and some discomfort. Yet, for me, it’s well worth the few weeks of tricky settling in!
How it feels having a Mirena IUD eight months on
Eight months on from having a Mirena IUD for heavy periods, I am no longer ruled by my menstrual cycle. I rarely notice when I have a period, it’s usually barely leaving a mark on toilet paper. I have used one pad in the last five months. I haven’t left any marks on my clothes or the bed sheets. I don’t have to worry about staying at someone’s house if I have my period. It is liberating.
In the first three months, I was aware that there was “something inside me” and it felt a little weird. Sometimes I thought I could feel it when I walked. But over the last five months, I don’t notice it is in place and I can’t feel the threads.
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Mirena IUD FAQs
HOW DOES A MIRENA IUD WORK?
The Mirena IUD releases progesterone hormone into your uterus and can be a great treatment to reduce blood flow if you have heavy periods, as well as being a form of contraception.
It works by thickening the mucus in your cervix which prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. It also thins your uterine lining, reducing bleeding. This is why a Mirena IUD for heavy periods can help.
Remember, that a Mirena IUD does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections so use a condom if you have a new partner.
HOW IS A MIRENA IUD INSERTED?
A healthcare provider or nurse will ask you to lie on your back with your knees bent and parted. They will open your vagina, just like a PAP test, and insert the Mirena IUD through your cervix and into your uterus.
The whole procedure takes about 30 minutes, but the actual insertion only takes five minutes or less. You will be asked to return for a follow-up appointment in one to three months to check all is well.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A MIRENA IUD TO STOP PERIODS?
A Mirena IUD can be ideal for women with heavy or painful periods as it usually results in lighter and shorter periods, even stopping periods for some women.
It does take a while for your body to settle after a Mirena IUD is inserted and it’s a good idea to allow at least 6-12 weeks for your body to completely settle into a cycle of no or lighter bleeds.
Keep in mind that when your Mirena IUD is inserted, you may find that your periods are longer or heavier than usual for the first three months. If symptoms persist past this time, you should go back to your healthcare provider to be investigated.
DOES A MIRENA IUD HURT?
When a Mirena IUD is inserted into your uterus via your vagina, it can be uncomfortable, similar to a PAP test. It’s important to say that everyone experiences pain differently. If you feel pain, talk to your healthcare provider.
You may feel tender for a day or two after the procedure and suffer cramps similar to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen if you need to.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF A MIRENA IUD?
There can be some side effects when using a Mirena IUD, including breast tenderness and mood swings.
WHAT DOES A MIRENA IUD LOOK LIKE?
A Mirena IUD is a t-shaped plastic device that is inserted into your uterus. It has two threads that hang down through the cervix and into the top of your vagina. You can feel these to check the Mirena IUD is in place.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR IUD STRINGS TO SOFTEN?
In the beginning, you may be very aware of the ends of the threads. Over time, the threads will soften and you won’t be able to feel them.
Often the threads can be an issue in relation to sex. The threads can cause you pain or they can poke your partner if you are having vaginal intercourse. If this is a problem, your healthcare provider may trim the strings.
HOW LONG DOES A MIRENA IUD LAST?
A Mirena IUD lasts up to eight years and is a great option for a long-lasting control of heavy bleeding. If it takes you all the way through menopause, you might have avoided a hysterectomy! You can get it removed at any time.