August 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm #11451
I read the Trust Your Body article a few weeks ago and was intrigued, but also confused that I found no real mention in either the article or the comments about the Mirena IUD. I fully believe that artificial hormones are the devil and should be avoided at all costs, but despite this conviction I happen to have the Mirena. The reason is because, after an extremely unsuccessful, unbelievably painful, ovarian-cyst-laden two year stint with the Paragard, I finally decided to at least have a look at the Mirena that I had previously refused to consider on the grounds of its devilish artificial hormones. And I ended up deciding that I would be willing to try it, both because I felt I had no other realistic BC options (seriously screw condoms) and because the daily dose of levonorgestrel is SO INCOMPREHENSIBLY TINY. We’re talking like 1/50th of a mg per day.
So far I can’t discern any side effects, but to be fair I’ve had a really bizarre year health-wise, full of more issues than some people get in their lifetimes, so it does seem possible that there is something that I’ve mistakenly attributed to one of my other conditions…
But, I’m really curious to learn particularly what Hannah and also any other interested party has to say about it, as it seemed to be a little bit missing from the other discussion of BC methods.
August 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm #11464
- This topic was modified 10 years, 3 months ago by heatheriv.
Let me see if I can address what you would like to know.
I do believe that Mirena carries the same risks as other hormonal birth control. The one exception would be in estrogen dependent health issues since Mirena is progesten only.
While I totally understand why you would want to go with the smaller amount of hormone being released into your system, the reason the amount is so small is because it is released locally. It is still F*cking (pardon my french) with your reproductive system, which is a problem in and of itself. I have heard of many many side effects, including all of the normal stuff that those on combined oral contraceptives have.
I don’t believe that NO ONE should use hormonal birth control, but I do believe that it ALWAYS comes with side effects, whether immediately perceived by the user or not, and anyone using the method should be sure that that is the only method that they find acceptable.
In your case, it sounds like you might have hormonal issues you want to get figured out, and that’s not possible while on hormonal birth control. I think that it’s a hard place for a lot of women because so many people do have hormonal issues (I got to know my own back when I started to chart, you aren’t alone!) an so many people need contraception, so the hormones are an easy fix to both, but in order to figure out health issues I definitely think that women need to get off the hormones, regardless of what type, chart their cycles and discover the imbalances, and work to get them figured out.
So anyway, hopefully this doesn’t come off too harsh. I just care about people’s health and particularly women suffering with mal-effects of hormonal birth control (which may be why I decided to do what I do ;)). It’s totally a personal decision, but if you are trying to figure out health stuff definitely definitely get off the hormones! The sympto-thermal method can really be an excellent form of birth control, you can see what’s going on with your hormones (though they will be extra funked up after coming off hormones, anyway), and you can see how what you are doing health-wise is helping or hurting so easily. It’s awesome.August 15, 2013 at 12:01 pm #11496
For what it’s worth, progestin is supposed to be even worse than regular BC estrogen, so that might explain some of the issues, too.August 15, 2013 at 3:06 pm #11508crinklyParticipant
you can get a non-hormone coil, but in my experience the mirena is offered out of preference, but non-hormone ones do exist. I have used them with no problems.August 15, 2013 at 5:26 pm #11516
The non-hormonal IUD is what she had and had many issues with.August 17, 2013 at 7:11 am #11618
Hannah, thanks for your response. I didn’t feel it was too harsh, just opinionated :)
I can absolutely understand why one would be opinionated about an issue like this!
The problem for me is that I really like my IUD. I’m not in a place right now where pregnancy would be at all okay with me, and while I do not doubt that the sympto-thermal method is reasonably effective it doesn’t seem effective enough for my needs by itself.
I know I could use condoms… but I REALLY hate them. Withdrawal is not an option with my current partner, already discussed.
I guess I’m not entirely ready to believe that it is absolutely definitely messing up my system in a million ways. I do know that everything has a risk of side effects and that in general most things have an incidence of side effects, but sometimes the side effects are quite tolerable and unless they’re causing secret damage, if they’re tolerable then it looks like everything should be okay?
I think I want to know more about the precise ways that it could be harming me. Like, I know it isn’t making me fatter, because my weight leveled off before I got it and hasn’t changed. I know it isn’t causing acne or any of that. I’m pretty sure my mood hasn’t been swinging any more than normal. Those are always the big ones, aren’t they? It’s making my periods lighter and less terrible, which I would very much like to put down as a positive development. And I guess I’m skeptical that the systemic effects could be the same when the dosage is 1/1000th the amount of the lowest dose BC pills. Though I’d understand if it might cause more local issues, I just don’t really know much about what those could be.
I don’t want to sound like I’m just arguing with you. I am open minded and willing to learn and consider things, and not sold on keeping the Mirena if I think it’s a real barrier to my health. I want to learn all I can. But I also don’t want to make a hasty decision to get it taken out because I’m all freaked about it and then have nothing change at all except that now sex is a huge hassle and wish I’d just kept it. Does that make sense?
Also what would happen if hypothetically I were to start charting and do all of that business but also keep the IUD?August 18, 2013 at 12:13 pm #11677
Re: How it could be harming.
Any artificial hormones are going to have effects on our health. I’m not saying no one should be on them, but it’s a trade off.
Physically, you also have the possible effects of an IUD. This ranges from ectopic pregnancy to perforation of the uterus to PID, and is what many of the lawsuits focus on. You also, by definition, are irritating all processes of your regular healthy hormonal cycle, sometimes causing amenorrhea, uterine lining is aggravated, cervical fluid thickened, etc.
This would also depend on what you would choose to do IF you did conceive, but the hormones can obviously mess with any newly conceived babe. If you would abort it wouldn’t really matter, if you wouldn’t it may be something you would want to keep in mind.
In terms of long term effects, it hasn’t been used long enough to know (which, to me, is enough to not use it).
I would consider lighter periods not good, as they indicate hormonal imbalance, but obviously hormones are imbalanced ON PURPOSE when using any kind of hormonal BC.
Re: Your thoughts
Your sentiments make sense, and you have every right to do what is right FOR YOU. No one else can make that decision for you. Hormonal birth control is always going to be a health trade off, period. But whether going all natural, and figuring out any health stuff, or the specific method of contraception is more important to you at the time is what is going to need to be weighed in your individual situation.
Re: If you can chart still
You can’t use artificial hormones and chart, you check temp and cervical fluid when charting, mirena thickens CF and makes there not be change, as far as I know, and I don’t know what it would do to your temperatures, it would probably depend if you are still ovulating or not. You can chart with a copper IUD, though.August 18, 2013 at 10:06 pm #11700
Thanks so much for all the info! I have no idea what to do now, but you’ve given me a lot to think about!August 28, 2013 at 4:03 pm #12162
I just wanted to let you know your questions inspired me to do this post: http://180degreehealth.com/2013/08/birth-control-pillsAugust 29, 2013 at 12:08 pm #12199
Thank you, thank you, thank you for doing that post, Hannah!September 5, 2013 at 8:37 pm #12372misschris_18Participant
I’m very happy I found this discussion. I read the birth control article and wondered about the mirena iud. I got it when I was restrictive dieting. I started recovery and refeeding in May. I put on alot of weight. I cramp often with no bleeding. I dont even know when my period is. I’m not sure if my body can fully recover with it. I’m unsure if some of the uncomfortable things i’ve experienced are from the birth control or from recovery. I definitely have some decisions to make.December 13, 2013 at 5:56 pm #14249aedineParticipant
Heatheriv: how’s it going 4 months later? Still happy with Mirena?
I’m on the verge of getting one despite strong reluctance. Here’s why:
1. the fail rate & convenience appear to be unrivaled apart from other IUDs or my man getting snipped – which he can’t afford anyway. I hear ya – condoms suck, diaphragm sucks, spermicide sucks, withdrawal reduces intimacy.
2. little to no periods! I’m in my mid-40s and menorrhagia is an increasing nuisance as I approach menopause. Long term herbs have not helped, and the non-hormal options (ablation, eg) are no more convenient.
I was on/off low dose pills in my 20s & 30s, with few side effects, but I wanted to know the real me and swore I’d never put levonorgestrel in my body again. Turns out that the real me can be a pain in the a##. If the price of convenience and peace of mind is the mystery of what is me vs. a pharmaceutical, I think I can pay that price.
My naturopath says most clients love it, and those that get it removed do so for comfort, not systemic reasons. I think the horror stories (which are numerous) on the internet are categorically biased.
Thanks for your feedback.December 14, 2013 at 11:07 pm #14261StephanieMichelleParticipant
Okay, here’s the thing that frustrates me about this site. There is so much scaremongering about birth control- yes, it has side effects. Yes, most have forms of artificial hormones. But using hormonal birth control carries less risk of health problems than pregnancy. Or in other words, pregnancy is riskier than the Pill. I understand people on here have had bad experiences with hormonal birth control, which is going to happen with pretty much any medication or treatment. What Hannah doesn’t mention is that Mirena acts locally on the uterus- only a minuscule amount of hormone enters the bloodstream, which is why it doesn’t generally have the side effects other hormonal options have. IUDs are effective and you don’t have to think about birth control. This is a situation where one has to weigh the risk/benefit ratio. I have a Mirena, and while I’m not crazy about hormones, the benefits of it out weigh the potential risks (I’ve had zero problems so far, I love it).
Another thought: many on here advocate temping and charting your cycle. It works for some, but it’s not the best form of birth control. Scientists have long noted that human mammals have surprisingly variable pregnancy lengths in comparison to other mammals, and the same goes for ovulation timing. Ovulation can be all over the place, and it’s not always predictable. Some communities European Jews exclusively use the rhythm method and have notably higher incidences of babies with Down’s in comparison to Jewish people living in the US using more effective forms of birth control (ruling out genetic tendencies). It is theorized that this happens because despite abstaining during the fertile time, pregnancy still happens and sperm meets an ‘old’ egg (an egg that has been released for 12 hours and is ready to ‘die’). I just found this interesting and it suggests that even if done well, the rhythm method just isn’t the most effective form of birth control and may even have risks.
I saw someone mentioned pregnancy with the IUD in- there is a 50% chance of miscarriage. If you think you’re pregnant and have an IUD, call your doctor ASAP so it can be removed.
I know this is long, I just wanted to provide a different viewpoint.December 15, 2013 at 5:43 pm #14271aedineParticipant
Thanks, Stephane Michelle. I thought someone already mentioned that the Mirena is local. I interpret that to mean that, though a much smaller amount of hormone is released locally in the uterus, this is because it does not have to survive the digestive tract. I have not seen any info comparing the net absorption levels of levonorgestrel released in-utero vs. oral AFTER DISGESTION, and I would be quite keen to see those data!!!
The other main difference is that Mirena is progestin-only and supposedly does not inhibit ovulation, so a woman might experience some normal biological ups/downs /cycle-related differences (in my case, peri-menopause symptoms) vs. combined progestin-estradiol oral pill, which I understand prevents ovulation entirely thereby causing the body to think itself pregnant – a biological state PREGNANT (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) with all sorts of inherent primal phenomena that might interfere with the desires and processes of a woman seeking and enjoying coitus without resulting in offspring.
I have been charting, and I do think it’s incredibly empowering and elucidating. But please be advised that there is a difference between the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Hannah advocates and the “Rhythm Method,” which is an obsolete, outdated method that relies solely on past cycle info rather than current basal temps, cervical fluid and cervix position (see Weschler, Taking Charge of Your Fertility – the bible on FAM). FAM can be pretty accurate if you want to invest the time and double up on barrier methods during conservatively estimated fertile phases.
In fact, it’s a shame that in this country we teach abstinence rather than FAM to teens, who might never learn about the fertility cycle until many years later when a woman wants to ACHIEVE rather than avoid pregnancy. However, I think you are correct that ovulation is still pretty tricky to predict – especially at my age: in the past few months my periods have gotten closer, and I don’t trust my math! MOreover, i’m lazy and I dislike barrier methods.
Many Mirena users don’t appear to notice negative side effects until after 1-2 yrs of use; that’s why I’m curious about some honest feedback from savvy 180 chicks on this site. I recall being a bit flattened and depressed from time to tome on the pill, but I can get that way sometimes off it too. As you say, it seems to truly be an individual issue of weighing risks against benefits.
I”m glad to hear you love it as my mind is pretty much made up to get one. I wish more people who love it were expressing this online! The only downside: if I don’t like it, my insurance won’t cover removal. :(December 15, 2013 at 6:56 pm #14272
I think this is the sort of situation where you should research all of the short-term and long-term risks and decide what you are comfortable with. Including all the medical literature that comes with the procedure, which is usually pretty informative.
I think one reason a lot of people on this site are down on hormonal forms of BC is because 1) they have had negative experiences, as Stephanie points out, but also 2) because a lot of doctors don’t explain the risks and people are blindsided because they thought they were on something really safe.
I was on the pill for years and thought I was doing “well” on it until I came off and went through literally hell getting off and also realized some issues that had been caused by the pill that I’d had no idea all along. None of this was ever explained when I was a teenager going on the pill, I had no clue it could be an issue to come off or that I shouldn’t be on it for 15 years nonstop, and I also wasn’t told the longterm effects like increased risk of breast cancer. Maybe I should have done my own research but I was a teenager and as a minor I think it was on the doctor to explain this stuff. I think even with adults, doctors have a responsibility to thoroughly discuss risks, but the usually don’t in my experience.
I don’t doubt that bc pills or mirena could be a viable option for some but they all have risks and it’s important to be aware of and comfortable with them.
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