This is Part One of my story about how I am birth control free and why I am never looking back. (Part Two is here.)
I had my first Mirena inserted when I was 19. It was painful, but quick, and I remember not being able to get off of the table for some time. It felt like the time in 8th grade when I felt my period coming on and I went into my purse to take my prescription strength naproxen, only to find that my bottle wasn’t in there. Within a few hours, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t move, and I had to call my mom to pick me up from school. That was the first and only time that I was ever without pain medication for my period. I always made sure to have it on me, and when I ran out, to immediately get it refilled.
I had a long and complicated history with my period. I couldn’t wait for it to come, and when it finally did when I was in 7th grade, I didn’t know what hit me. I had never had a feeling like that before. I didn’t know what I was experiencing was called cramps.
“I’m hurting so bad; I don’t know what’s wrong.”
My mom put two and two together quickly, gave me some over the counter medicine, and a heat pad, and it was manageable. As time went on though, my periods got heavier, longer, and more painful. Eventually I needed prescription strength Naproxen that I would take with two extra strength Tylenol, just to combat the pain. Before I knew it, I had grown accustomed to super tampons and a cocktail of medicines every month.
It did get to the point where I was concerned how heavily I was actually bleeding. And my doctor was questioning why I needed prescription medication to cope with menstrual cramps. By 10th grade, I had started my first rodeo with birth control. Over the course of high school, I had tried every oral birth control available under my parent’s insurance. They did make my period regular and significantly lighter, but did not help with the pain. When I came home from college my
freshman summer, I opted for an IUD. My family doctor did not give IUD’s to women unless they had already had a child, so I found a gynecologist who agreed to insert one.
As I said, insertion was painful, but at least it was over relatively quickly. It felt how you would imagine a virgin cervix to feel when it suddenly had something jammed through it, into the uterus. It took my breath away and felt so foreign. The cramping felt like the most severe menstrual cramps, but the actual insertion was like a big “Oh no, that feels like nothing should ever go in or out of there EVER!” After so long, I knew I had to get up and go home, but I couldn’t stand up. I just wanted to curl up. I made it out of the examining room but had to stop to sit back down in the waiting room. Finally, I got up and somehow made it to the car. I rode home in the back seat floor board, hunched over the back seats. Luckily after getting home and taking some more medicine and applying heat, I was okay within an hour or two.
I kept that IUD in for 3 years. I honestly loved it. My periods immediately stopped, and I loved never having to worry about having one. I did have a few ovarian cysts grow during that time period, and one that nearly ruptured (don’t worry, eventually you will hear that story too), but overall, it was the best experience with a birth control I had ever had. During my senior year of college I started complaining of experiencing cramps when I exercised, especially while running. And I was positive it was the IUD. I figured it had probably shifted out of place slightly. I could practically feel it moving and being disrupted as I exercised. It had never done this before, even while conditioning for volleyball, so ultimately it became a big enough of an annoyance that I decided to have it removed.
When I moved back home after college, I almost immediately had the Mirena removed. Since it had been three years, I decided to see if my body had calmed down any. Maybe I wouldn’t need birth control to control my period. I waited a month, had a period, and it was probably the worst period I had ever had. Never had I ever been so sick and weak from a period. And the pain was just as bad as ever. So I went on to explore more birth control options. The next month I had the Nexaplon inserted into my arm. I kept it in my arm for 8 months. I shit you not, I spotted for the entirety of that 8 months. I never had a full out period, but I spotted every. single. day.
So after having the Nexaplon removed, I decided that although the insertion process deterred me some, that it was my best option. Almost a year from the day of having the first Mirena removed, I had the second one inserted.OH HOLY HELL WHAT JUST HAPPENED TO MY BODY
My mom was with me again for this insertion because I was prepared to not be able to drive myself home. I had taken my period pain meds and was ready. (Let me note that this was a different doctor’s office inserting my second Mirena.)
She started by “sounding” my uterus to gauge the depth. I don’t remember if this happened with my first insertion (my mom swears it didn’t), but if it did, she did it so fast and popped the Mirena in there without me noticing that she was entering and exiting two separate times. I immediately started cramping up. I moaned when I couldn’t hold it in any more. She finished and asked if I still wanted to go on. At this point I was already in pain and barley able to catch my breath. I said in fragments, “Get it over with, hurry, I want it done.” It felt like an eternity. She couldn’t get it in. I heard her ask the nurse for a tenaculum. I could feel her making unsuccessful attempts. I was lying there in complete misery, knowing I couldn’t withstand another second of this torture. She kept telling me to relax, and I was trying like hell to because I wanted the damn thing done already. She finally asked me to cough so I did, again and again. Finally, she got the IUD in place.
It wasn’t what I was expecting. I had done this before. I looked at her and said, “This was not like last time”. If it were there’s no way I would have asked for another one. She tells me to sit there as long as I need and runs off to get another doctor to come look at me and the IUD via vaginal ultrasound. My mom was trying to keep me calm. She had been present for both insertions and knew what had just occurred was far from anything she had seen last time. I probably laid there for 15 minutes, until trying to sit up. The sheet was covered in blood and dripping onto the floor. I tried getting off of the table, and blood began dripping from me. My mom handed me a handful of tissues and I waddled a few steps into the bathroom trying to clean up.
I managed to get home and for hours the pain continued. I kept thinking it would subside. I had taken my medicine and it didn’t even take the edge off. Something was wrong. My mom called the doctor’s office to tell them what was happening, telling them I needed something stronger for the pain. They essentially told her that if I was in that much pain from an IUD insertion I need to toughen up. Tylenol is all I should need. It was unheard to give that kind of pain medicine for an IUD insertion. My mom snapped back that it was unheard of for an insertion to cause that much pain, inferring that they did something wrong for it to be this bad. She kept saying “Look this isn’t her first Mirena, she knows how it is supposed to feel.”
My mom was blown away because what I kept describing to her sounded like labor pains. I couldn’t find a comfortable position. I kept squatting and saying it felt like I need to push. We were about to head to the ER when we miraculously were able to scrape up a Lortab from the medicine cabinet. It took a freaking Loratab to knock the pain, and for the next couple days, I would break one in half and take it. (Just FYI, I’m definitely not endorsing taking medicine that hasn’t been prescribed to you, but I was desperate, and was careful with the dosage, and thank goodness I was able to get relief for those few days that I needed it.)
In the months to come, I started having pain that mimicked menstrual cramps, but I never had a period. How was it possible to cramp like I was having a heavy period without any bleeding at all? The cramps started to occur more and more often, eventually every other day. They would come on randomly, no connection to exercise or food. Sometimes they would happen in the middle of the night, mid-sleep. The cramps were intense enough to induce nausea. My doctors all said to me that an IUD wouldn’t cause any of these symptoms, especially because I already had an IUD without any such side effects. It had to be something else, like my gallbladder.
A few months after having my perfectly healthy gallbladder removed, a year after it had been inserted, I had my second and LAST EVER Mirena removed. I haven’t experienced that pain since. In fact, I’m now all natural and I don’t have any problems related to my period anymore. That’s a big story, that I love to share with people, and you can read about it soon in Part 2. But if your guessing that it has something to do with natural products and essential oils, you’re right!