Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I'm finally breaking up with my Mirena

I'm finally breaking up with my Mirena (for the update since taking it out head over here). For 5 months I've been told to just hang in there, wait it out, deal with the beyond annoying side effects and I'm finally calling it QUITS! Dun-zo. For any MEN out there, STOP reading now. Trust me, this is girl stuff to the max and you don't want to hear about it... any of it, seriously. I also understand that there are tons of women out there who have had no problems with the Mirena and love it. I happen to fall in the other category and I'm posting this info for anyone else out there who is in the same boat, I believe the side effects are HIGHLY under-reported and therefore unknown to most of the women  considering it as their form of birth control. It takes only a few minutes of good old Googling to find a million stories of women who have had serious problems with their Mirena, and lots of side effects that are not even listed on the information packets provided to the general public. I believe it is in need of review by the FDA, personally.

One other quick note, Mirena which is advocated as essentially a 'hormone free' birth control option actually does deliver 20 mcg/day of Levonorgestrel, the same thing as Norplant, the birth control arm implant that has since been discontinued in the US... not to mention the thirty some thousands of lawsuits filed due to the side effects which patients were not warned about (ie-  weight gain, nervousness, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, mastalgia, dizziness, dermatitis/rash, hirsutism, scalp-hair loss, headache, depression, acne and SO many more)... not a good correlation. In fact there are numerous similar pending lawsuits for Mirena. In 2010 the FDA sent a warning letter to the manufacturer stating that their claims are misleading and that they minimize the risks associated with the IUC. It's just not looking good folks...

For those who like Cliff Notes, the following is a concise list of side effects that I've experienced causing me to finally STOP trying to "wait it out" and have it removed as soon as possible! It has been the combined extent and severity of these symptoms that have led to my decision. For those who want the whole details... continue reading for the full story.

- Bleeding... excessively and consistently for 5 months. FIVE months with only a couple of days here and there of reprieve
- Cramping. On a daily basis for the past 5 months ranging from mild to as painful as early labor contractions.
- Bloating, severe bloating folks. Horribly uncomfortable, not to mention the puffy distended abdomen that makes me appear 5-6 months pregnant ALL the time.
- Weight gain. Outside of being pregnant this is the highest the scale has ever read in my life, roughly 5-7 lbs higher than my pre-pregnancy weight.
- ZERO sex drive. Literally zero... for the past 20 weeks!
Wacky mental state & mood. I am either just flat.. blah... or high or low, there's no gradual inbetween. And no patience for anything. At all.
- Depression. Mild yet still noticeable looking back.
- Fatigue.

5 months may not seem like that long in the grand scheme of things... I suppose I could wait it out until 6 months... 9 mos... or even a year...but things have gotten to a point that they are affecting my daily life in a bad way, to me this means that it's time to throw in the towel. If things were improving I may have a different view but they aren't. I have given it this long PURELY for the fact that it will cost me $800-$1000 to get it re-inserted if I chose to remove it prematurely and changed my mind later.
When I was researching about getting the IUC put in I stumbled across some interesting information about tons of side effects women had experienced that are not reported or under-reported. This article was one that I stopped and thought... hmmm... but I went ahead with it anyway. I figured, if anything, I'd now be aware that there were other side effects possible and just be on the lookout for them. Everything I was told about Mirena from the vast majority of folks including my doc was that it was great, you dont have to worry about anything until you decide to have another kid.

Sounded great, I had always had mild issues with birth control pills in the past, I'm extremely sensitive to the hormones, spent a couple of years trying different ones out. Finally landed on a low dose, monophasic (just one dose the whole month) and I would take it continually (overlapping each month) so that I never got a period. Not too big of a hassle... worked fine but I thought if I could get the Mirena and just pop it in and never think about birth control again until we were ready for another baby that would be fantastic. And we also had the whole clotting issues that I have that may or may not effect my risk of blood clots from standard birth control pills. So with all of that it made perfect sense to go with the Mirena.

I had mine put in at the end of October 2011 when Baby D was about 5 months old. No problems there. I went home expecting to have some severe and annoying bleeding for about a month or so, maybe 6 weeks at most. Well that came and went... it was consistent heavy bleeding every day for around 8 weeks. I just thought well damn I guess I'm one of the outliers that experienced symptoms for longer. Everyone assured me to just wait it out a little bit longer, it'd get better, etc. So I kept waiting.

Well finally the bleeding stopped... so I thought... I then started the never ending spiral. I would get a reprieve for a few days (the longest period of time being 1 full week, and that only occured once) and then the bleeding would be back. Rarely it was light, usually it was heavy (like clots ALL the time as if I was back in my post-partum days after having my kids) I had never experienced that in my life! And you'd throw the cramping in there with it. I would have consistent cramping on a DAILY basis to varying degrees regardless of whether or not I was bleeding at the time. Several times a month I would have cramping so severe that it was identical to my early labor contractions, not your average run of the mill cramps. And of course to go along with all of that you have the bloating. My stomach so distended if I'm not actively flexing and sucking it in that I easily look 5 months pregnant at any given time. At this point I literally weigh the most I ever have in my life outside of being pregnant. I'm not talking 50 lbs but I did seem to jump up to a consistent 5-10 lbs higher than my pre-pregnancy weight, for no reason. My diet hasn't changed, my activity level hasn't changed (if anything I'm more active dealing with 2 kids) the weight has just appeared and hasn't gone anywhere. I have also increased my activity level, changed my eating/drinking habits and decreased portion sizes over the past month and the scale hasn't moved. In a normal world this would at least give me a pound... maybe 3 but nothing is changing. These have been the glaringly obvious side effects... there are more subtle problems (see below) but I keep hearing 'just ride out the storm, it will stop, hang in there.' So I have been.

After the 3 month mark I started thinking Ok seriously... WHEN the hell is this going to let up, this is becoming miserable. What happened to 4-6 weeks of misery... we were going on 12+ and NOTHING had changed, it's not like things were gradually improving, not at all. Talk about beyond annoying, I wasn't even able to use tampons for fear that they may yank the strings out (which I thought had happened back at the 6 week mark) so every day pantiliners... disgusting.

As 3 months turned into 4 and now going on 5 I have started realizing the other more subtle side effects going on. Lack of sex drive would be a total understatement, we're talking ZERO... less than zero... zilch... nothing. And this is NOT like me. I just justified things thinking- well if you constantly felt like you were on your period for 12 weeks you'd have no sex drive either. But really the lack of interest isn't solely due to the annoying cramping, bleeding, and bloating going on... it is clearly mental/hormonal whatever you want to call it. There's nothing coming from my brain to even remotely put me in the mood. That doesn't even touch the awful body image going on with my huge fat belly and weight gain, feeling ugly and crappy is putting it mildly. Mind you, this has been going on for MONTHS now... it has really done a number on my mental state and has been grating on my nerves.

Along the same lines has been some mild depression... I wouldn't say this has been anything overtly obvious, but looking back it is clear for me to realize there is some slight depression going on too. My mood is just wacky... I am either listless and blah with no energy or I have almost bi-polar type of emotions going on, lots of highs and lows, no gradual progressions, just all over the board... pretty much like being pregnant :) I have a lot less energy and less drive to enjoy things that I normally enjoy... not consistently at least. A lot of fatigue, granted I do have a lot on my plate that would wear anyone out but it seems like I'm more tired than I really should be. Everything seems like a hassle a good majority of the time and I feel like I have to gear myself up to do normal tasks. Or I'll be the opposite and completely gung-ho to get things done, it's like there is a limited middleground. I have ZERO patience for even the littlest of things (not that this is a forte of mine anyway) but the smallest things drive me nuts, piss me off, and iritate me to no end. I kind of feel like I'm constantly on edge... Clearly this has provided a challenge for my relationship with my husband and our children. Lack of patience + 2 year old + high needs baby= bad for mommy!

I have tried to take all of this with a grain of salt realizing that the added stress in my life from business/school/new baby et al are undoubtedly contributing to my lack of patience, my fatigue, etc. But I keep thinking back to that info I had read prior to getting the Mirena and keep wondering... hmmm.... If anything I think it's a result of both issues. At least I can control one of these by taking the dang thing out and getting part of me back to normal, right? And bottom line I know that I can take the Mirena out and see if things improve, if not, we'll go from there. I will say that I would not have it inserted again, after the next baby I will not be going back to Mirena.The fact that, even in a small way, it is negatively affecting my every day life is enough to call it quits. Not to mention, the random bleeding ALL the time for MONTHS on end is enough in itself to make me never want to deal with it again. Feeling this crappy for this long is just too much, I can't do it anymore.

I suggest anyone out there wondering the same things that I have been start here (http://mirenadiaries.wordpress.com/)

and then read through some of this other stuff....

For people experiencing severe enough symptoms to want to persue legal action this is where I'd go here. http://www.motleyrice.com/medical-devices/mirena-iud-lawyers

To report negative side effects to the FDA-
Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

And here is the UPDATE after I stopped using the Mirena- the weight came off, the symptoms disappeared, click for the whole story


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