If you wondered where I was at the end of last week, the answer is barfing. Horrible stomach bug, still don’t really feel great, it is what it is. Such circumstances do seem to line up with today’s blog topic: my experience with the Mirena and Mirena Crash.
The number one reason that I’m writing this post is that in the insanity of the last three months, finding solidarity through forums and articles written by other women going through a similar experience has been a source of constant comfort. To put it bluntly, I had a Mirena for two years and thought that I loved it, until I realized that my body didn’t. I did not notice any side effects because they developed super slowly. This appears to be a problem for many women with the implant. When side effects show up years after insertion, they don’t associate them with the IUD. Even my doctor had never heard of the Mirena causing so many problems, but with the speed that my OBGYN agreed that I should switch forms of birth control, it was clear that this is not an isolated incidence.
Since the first noticeable issues of the IUD lasted a month or two before removal and crash symptoms have lasted for three months now, I’ll just divide this by symptoms rather than a standard timeline.
Dissociative head is something that I made up. The name, at least. This symptom is a lot like being high all the time. You feel slightly out of body, the world looks a bit more sharp, like a coloring book, and you’re generally uneasy because nothing feels normal or ok. I noticed this symptom over the summer and it terrified me. I was sure that there was something wrong with my brain, and as someone with lifelong anxiety I couldn’t go a day without thinking about tumor possibilities. There was no explaining the way I felt or why I felt it all the time. After about a month and a half, my father informed me that a family friend had just been urged to have her IUD removed as she was developing bizarre skin growths, something that the dermatologist couldn’t explain but that her gyno quickly and quietly noted might be linked to her Mirena. She got the IUD out and her mend began. How did we not hear more stories like this? How did her dermatologist, and my doctor, have no idea that this was possible, while our OBGYNs did? Needless to say, I looked online and found that many women developed bizarre symptoms after long periods of having this kind of IUD. Our friend had her Mirena for seven years. I had mine for two. And now I viewed the world like it was a movie set, through a dissociative haze, and I was scared out of my mind.
Enter removal and The Mirena Crash.
The Mirena Crash
This isn’t a symptom, perse, it is all of them. After having my IUD removed, I wish that I could say that everything went back to normal, swift and painless. Oh no, that would be too easy. What followed has been deemed the Mirena Crash by those who have come before me. It is an intense hormonal crash, an amplification and diversification of symptoms that frightens spouses and puts the sufferer out of commission. While my symptoms have somewhat calmed, I am still feeling most of them after crossing the threshold of three months. Dissociative head? Still happens on and off. It’s even happening as I type now.
The exhaustion of the crash is unbelievable. I work as a freelance writer and after writing for even four hours I find myself totally exhausted. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is. I haven’t made any art that I’m proud of in months. I am exhausted by going to the theatre because I have to sit at attention and only going to the bathroom at the intermission. (Crash digestion BLOWS). The fatigue is an everyday problem. Though the first two months I literally had trouble being out of the house for more than two hours, I still feel lesser fatigue today.
Depression, Anxiety, & Panic Attacks
If you regularly experience any of these, hold onto your hat. On the Mirena Crash, you will achieve new heights and new lows. It is the worst. But it is so so important to remind yourself that it’s the hormones, not you. In the past three months, my anxiety has been on par with the worst it has ever been. For a year in high school I had to set five minutes alarms to prove to myself that planes overhead weren’t going to drop bombs on us. Especially during crash months one and two, I flinched every time a plane roared overhead. Anxiety is no fucking joke. Unfortunately, anxiety and hormones work together in a way that is perpetually fuelling. Anxiety exacerbates symptoms, the scary symptoms give you more anxiety. Depression is upped and panic attacks are likely. If you might be experiencing a crash in the near future, prepare yourself and prepare those around you to aid you on your mend. I have seriously upped my meditation game, and for me that has helped. Find ways to tap into your inner peace if you can.
Skin & Weight
Silver lining, some of the symptoms you didn’t know were associated with your IUD will start to fade during the crash! High on that list for me were acne and weight gain, which is now weight loss. Here is a picture of me at graduation, probably the heaviest I've ever been.
There are so many symptoms that flitted in and out of my crash, so I will throw together a list of them here:
- Ear pain.
- Grinding teeth, so jaw pain and sensitive teeth.
- Headaches of all kinds.
- Pins and needles.
- Minor balance issues.
- Reactions to smell and food, not unlike those of a pregnant lady.
- Mood swings like woah.
- Bad dreams.
- Sensitive stomach.
- Dizzy spells.
- And probably more that I can’t remember at this particular moment.
Light at the Tunnel’s End
Because I still am not 100% better, I had a full physical and a blood panel done last week to make sure that it is all crash-related and not a serious ailment. Turns out that I have the vitals of an ox and blood that’s just like any healthful 20-something’s. The doctor believes it’s just the crash, and so do I. And here’s the thing, I may still be exhibiting crash symptoms but I am much more functional than I was even a month ago. It does get better, that can just be hard to remember when you’re in pain all the damn time. I also know that some women are fine and happy with the Mirena. Hey, I hope so! More power to ya! But if you think you might be experiencing anything above or if you just feel that something is off, it might be time to switch to a new form of birth control.
People’s bodies are different, this is just my experience.
I’m doing pretty well, looking pretty svelte, and healing a little bit more every week. Take care of yourselves, my cervix-having friends. And if you need a crash doula, I’m totally here for you.