As a nurse and former user of the Mirena IUD, I want to urge other women to do their research before trying any medication.
First Off...What Is the Mirena IUD?
The Mirena IUD (intra-uterine device) is a small device that is inserted into the uterus in order to prevent pregnancy. It is made of silicone, polyethylene, and a synthetic hormone called levonorgestrel. This device is said to work in a few different ways to prevent a woman from conceiving.
One way it works is that it makes the lining of your uterus extremely thin, thereby making the uterus wall inhospitable for a fertilized egg to implant itself. It also is thought to work by thickening the cervical mucus to prevent a sperm from reaching an egg to fertilize it. Surprisingly, the manufacturers of Mirena are not quite sure exactly how it works, but they theorize that there are the ways in which it can prevent pregnancy. (If you don't believe me, go to their website. Under "How Does It Work" they say they are not sure!)
The Mirena IUD was at first only recommended for women who have already given birth, but lately it seems that it is being prescribed for women as well as young teenage girls who have "heavy" or "painful" periods. The device can cause a lessening of period flow and pain, and has even been known to stop periods altogether. Seems like an amazing little device, doesn't it?
However, this article is not to support the Mirena IUD. In fact, it is my warning to you about the truth of this device and how it can negatively impact your health and life. If you're thinking about getting this device, I urge you to read this article and to do your own research before getting it inserted into your body.
Pain and Discomfort With Mirena Placement and Removal
I am able to write this article because I speak from personal experience with the Mirena IUD. I had it inserted in May of 2008 and recently had it removed in May of 2013.
When the the device is inserted, you will experience pain as the doctor is pushing the device into your vaginal canal, through your cervix, and into your uterus. Your cervix is not something that is just open, so to open it can be quite painful for many women...especially if you haven't had a baby as your cervix canal will be more narrow than a woman who has had a baby.
Many women (including myself) say the insertion of the Mirena IUD causes cramping; your doctor will say that the cramping is very minor and will go away immediately after insertion. This was not true, in my case. The cramps felt more like labor pains upon insertion, and they did not disappear for a few hours after the procedure was done. Immediately following insertion, bleeding begins. Sometimes, it stops after a few weeks, but for hundreds of women, the bleeding will continue on for months. For me, I had continual spotting for about 9 months after insertion. And yes, at that point your iron levels are depleted and iron supplements may be needed.
The removal of the IUD is supposed to be a bit less painful than insertion. That is, if the device has not shifted/moved in your uterus to somewhere it shouldn't be! The removal procedure should not take more than a few minutes, once your doctor finds the strings to the device.
Unfortunately for me and many other women, the device had moved from its original spot and the strings were hard to find. It took my doctor 30 minutes to find the strings...a very uncomfortable and painful process. Imagine having your doctor fishing around inside of you with various tools and objects. It is also a scary experience thinking that a medical device has literally gotten lost inside of you! So many women have had this experience and some have had even worse experiences, where the device has literally gotten lost or embedded into their uterus' wall.
Once the device is out, there is a bit of cramping similar to the cramping that you experience upon insertion, but it tends to dissipate more quickly.
Side Effects of Mirena Your OB/GYN Will Not Mention!
So now let's get into the side effects of the Mirena IUD that your OB/GYN will probably never mention to you beforehand or throughout:
Bleeding/Spotting After Insertion: This is a side effect that almost every woman will experience. Some will have heavy bleeding after insertion, while some have light spotting. Your doctor will tell you that it should go away within a few weeks; however, hundreds of women claim they bleed for months after insertion.
Hair Loss: Your doctor will never mention that this is a side effect and indeed if you visit Mirena's website you will see it listed as a side effect (though it states that less than 5% of users will experience this.) I have had hair loss from this device, and if you look up "hair loss on Mirena IUD" on the internet you will come across hundreds of women who claim to have had the same problem. This is quite an embarrassing side effect and challenges a woman's self esteem...take it from someone who has experienced it.
Read More From Patientslounge
Pelvic Pain and Cramping: This is another side effect that your doctor most likely will not mention to you. You may experience intense pelvic pain, sharp shooting pains to be exact. This happens particularly during intercourse and directly following intercourse. Again, these side effects do not happen to everyone but have happened to a significant number of women.
Brown/Yellow patches on skin: This is not a side effect that is listed on the Mirena IUD website; however, it is another one of those pesky side effects that your doctor will never mention. I had brown patches of skin show up on my knees and above my ankles directly after having the device inserted. I couldn't figure out where these had come from, and went to numerous dermatologists. They all told me it was "dermatitis" of an unknown cause. Come to find out it was hormonal and attributed to the Mirena IUD. Now that I am off the Mirena IUD hormones, the brown patches are disappearing! Other women claim to have had the same issues with their skin.
Abnormal Pap Smears: This is a side effect that I feel very strongly about. I had never had an abnormal pap smear until last year (the fourth year I had Mirena IUD). My doctor chalked it up to "HPV" on my charts, without telling me her conclusions on the subject. I had to go in for a colposcopy (which is a biopsy of the cervix. Let's not forget that they don't numb you up before they rip off your cervical tissue). The doctor concluded that my cells are not cancerous but that they need to be checked more often. I found this odd that I might have "HPV", as I've been with the same partner for seven years and have never had the problem before. We are both faithful to one another, so how would HPB stay dormant for seven years? Two years at most. I even flat-out asked the doctor if she thought my cells were changing due to the Mirena IUD and she said "no." Look it up online and you will find that abnormal pap smears are another side effect of this device.
The list could go on and on, but be warned and know what side effects go hand-in-hand with this device before you get it inserted. That's not to say that all of these side effects would happen to you, but there is a good chance you might experience one or some of them. To date, there has been over 40,000 negative reports filed against the Mirena IUD.
- Common and Rare Side Effects for Mirena Intrauterine Device
Find information about common, infrequent and rare side effects of Mirena Intrauterine Device.
Class Action Lawsuits: Serious Adverse Reactions to Mirena
In addition to the long and disturbing list of side effects, there are a few that are actually considered adverse reactions (which means that they are very serious side effects). In fact, there are class-action lawsuits being drawn up against the manufacturer of the Mirena IUD now by various firms. These class action lawsuits are due to the following reasons:
- Ectopic pregnancy
- Embedding of the device into the uterus wall
- Perforation of the uterus wall or elsewhere
- Pseudotumor Cerebri (Brain Injury)
The newer lawsuits against Mirena are for pseudotumor cerebri, which is basically high blood pressure in your brain. Apparently, and according to lawyers, Bayer knew about this side effect back in 2014 and did not put it on their drug labels to warn anyone of the possibility. You can do a google search on this, but otherwise check out the sources below.
Lawsuits Against Mirena:
- Mirena Class Action Lawsuit | Lawyers for IUD Injury Victims
If you were injured using Mirena, click to learn more about lawsuits filed against the device's maker. You may be able to seek compensation for your injuries.
- Mirena Lawsuits - Allegations Against Bayer & MDL Cases
Women who used Mirena IUD and suffered organ perforation and psuedotumor cerebri filed lawsuits against Bayer.
My Advice: Do Not Get Mirena
"Keep Life Simple" is the motto on the Mirena IUD website. I beg to differ with this motto. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This little device seems to be quite harmless and is portrayed as the perfect birth control for mothers and young women with menstrual problems. But it is not the perfect device, as you can see.
Interestingly, while doing research on the the Mirena IUD, I found that the synthetic hormone Levonorgestrel that is contained in this device was the same hormone that was used in the Norplant. The Norplant is a device that was pulled from the market in the 1990s due to all of the adverse reactions and side effects it was causing. Then what happens? The same hormone is put into a different device and expected to give different results? Or is it that the pharma companies just do not care about women and only care about making money at the expense of others' suffering?
I urge you to please do your research before putting any type of medication into your body, particularly any type of medication that contains a synthetic hormone. The Mirena IUD is not a perfect form of birth control and does not provide for a simple life. In fact, it has caused the suffering of thousands of women. Do your research. Be informed before you start a regimen of birth control. There are other methods out there that are less dangerous.
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Questions & Answers
Question: I had Mirena inserted today. I have never used BC before, but was planning to try it for at least one year. I’ve had two children, and I'm planning a third. What other options could I consider?
Answer: Paragard is a copper IUD that's been used for years. It doesn't pump any hormones into your system, so there is no hair loss or other whacky hormonal side effects.
© 2013 Kitty Fields
MirenaSucks on July 29, 2016:
Hello Kittythedreamer - how long did it take for you to grow your hair back? I had my Mirena in for 6 weeks and demanding it to be taken out after suffering from multiple side effects! My hair is falling out in clumps all day for the last 4 weeks - so much so that i have lost 1/2 of my hair volume. Mirena SUCKS
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on February 19, 2014:
ChristinS - I am so happy to hear you're doing better! I can also say that now that I've been off the Mirena/hormonal BC for the past 9 months, my hair is growing in thicker and shinier. I also have more energy and my cycle is regular...which I actually like. :) Thanks for coming back to update everyone. I think it's good for women to see that Mirena could be a contributing factor to some unhealthy circumstances. And you're right, it might be ALL hormonal BC. I mean, look at all the breast cancer that's going on now in women who were put on hormonal therapy for menopause?
Christin Sander from Midwest on February 19, 2014:
Thought I'd come back and update my progress since the removal. I still struggle with the periodic Ovarian cyst, but they are not crippling painful like before. My hair is growing back thicker and healthier than ever - of course a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that I am eating well and exercising regularly, but my hair was def. thinner when on the Mirena. It wasn't due to age - because I'm 40 now and have fuller hair than I did the entire time I was on it. My periods are back now and they are normal and regular, but it took several months for them to regulate after getting the IUD taken out. I am determined to never use hormonal BC again ever for any reason. I am either very sensitive to it, or it just isn't a good idea in general for some women. My skin is also clearer but that could also be attributed to a long time on a gluten free diet - SO, I can't say with 100% certainty Mirena was behind all that was wrong, but seeing how I have improved so much in the last 6 months, I have to think it was indeed a contributing factor.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on February 19, 2014:
Helena - I'm sorry to hear that. Just do what's best for your health. I wish you luck.
Helena on February 18, 2014:
Just diagnosed with first ever ovarian cyst and first ever abnormal Pap smear. Have had mirena for two years...
Ariel on November 23, 2013:
I just recently had my Mirena iud removed. I never stopped Having menstrual cycles like the doctor promised, I've had intense pain, bleeding, hair loss, weight gain, etc, etc while I had the iud in. I've had abnormal Pap smears, biopsies, ultrasounds and all kinds of blood tests to figure out what's wrong (for 2 years) and finally my doctor said the only thing they think could be causing the issues is the iud. Now that the iud is out I'm dealing with the pain and clotting from its removal. The worst decision I've made is having the contraption put in!
amynluv from Missouri on August 22, 2013:
Wow! Sorry to hear you had such a hard time! For me, Mirena was the best choice because all other forms of hormonal birth control are counter-indicated when you take epilepsy meds, unless you take a really high dose, and I didn't want to have to. I had been on Paragard (the copper IUD), but for seven months I was almost always on the verge of hemorrhaging. I bled for probably two months after I got the Mirena, but nothing like I did with Paragard. I only spot once every 30 days or so. Other than the occasional light spotting, I have no periods. This is great because I am disabled with mobility issues. I couldn't praise Mirena highly enough. I love it! I'm so sorry that the rest of you ladies had such bad reactions. Both the Paragard and Mirena hurt bad during insertion, but I've never been pregnant, either.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on August 01, 2013:
Thanks, Pauline. You were one of the lucky ones.
Sparklea - I am so sorry you went through all of that. I guess it goes to show that perhaps putting a foreign object into our bodies to control pregnancy is not the best idea. I learned that the hard way. Blessings!
Sparklea from Upstate New York on July 23, 2013:
kitty: Wow, this is a tremendous and informative hub! I could not take the birth control pill, so I opted for the IUD after my second child was born. Let me tell you, it was a nightmare.
When the doctor inserted the IUD, the pain was off the charts. I had it inside me for seven years.
I married my second husband the month of May, and I noticed my monthlies were getting worse and worse each time and the pain was unbearable. By November of that year I was clotting, and I was in such pain I had to be in bed a day or two.
In December, the pain was so bad, and I knew I was in trouble because I also had a fever.
I finally called my GYN (a different one who had NOT inserted the IUD). He took me immediately, sent me straight to the hospital. On examination, he could not even find the IUD.
He did an emergency total hysterectomy the next day...on Friday the 13th.
My ovaries and the whole inside of my uterus were covered with cysts. He even took out my appendix.
Thank God it was not cancer, but I had to take hormones for years.
I KNOW it was the IUD that caused all this!
I also think I may have had a miscarriage during those months, but I did not know it.
I would say to ANY woman, DO NOT EVER use an IUD. They are beyond dangerous!
THANK you for sharing this vital information. Blessings, Sparklea :)
Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on July 23, 2013:
Hi Kittythedreamer. I'm really sorry you had such a negative experience with your Mirena IUD.
I'm past childbearing age now, but my chosen method of contraception in the past was almost always an IUD of some description- I took the contraceptive pill briefly, but didn't like the side effects and also kept forgetting to take it - so the coil was ideal for me.
Unlike you, the side effects and risks were explained to me beforehand, so I was able to accept the pain and blood loss during menstruation as the price to pay for peace of mind and freedom in lovemaking, and simply had an over the counter iron supplement and painkillers for the few days in the month thatI needed them.
Also I have to say that in my day ( how old fashioned does that sound?) coils weren't fitted unless you had already had a baby, so the problem of the cervix being too narrow was negated
I had a Mirena IUD fitted when I was forty six as my children were small and at that age really didn't want another baby. Because of it, I sailed effortlessly through the menopause with none of the horrible symptoms some poor souls get
I have only praise for it, but we are all different and what does for one certainly does not do for another
Thanks for sharing your experiences - voted up and interesting.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on July 22, 2013:
ChristinS - Oh my gosh! Our experiences are SO much alike! The patches on my skin are finally disappearing and I believe I'm starting to gain my hair back...by the way, I just had mine out in May!!! Wow. I honestly can't believe they still have this thing on the market...just goes to show how much the company Bayer really cares about what their products do to women. Pathetic, really. Thanks for reading and sharing your story! Blessings to you.
Christin Sander from Midwest on July 22, 2013:
I 100% agree with you. I had one inserted after the birth of my last child almost 5 years ago. I was sure I didn't want to get pregnant again, but not sure enough to get my tubes tied. The four years I had it in were awful. I developed huge ovarian cysts that were painful. I had some hair loss, but not terrible. The only good thing I could say for it was the lack of periods - but that wasn't worth the pain I went through having the damn thing removed when it shifted and the strings were lost. I also had a horrible time controlling my weight and losing weight with it in - and my weight has regulated now. It wasn't a bad diet etc. as I eat healthy, count calories etc.
I also had a patch of discoloration that is like Eczema on my ankle. I have had the Mirena out since May and it is healing now but still there. I had no idea the Mirena could have caused that also and it's exasperating to me all the misdiagnosis of that particular skin condition.
I would never advise a woman to get this contraption. If I were to do an IUD again I would do a copper because it is non-hormonal, but my experiences with the Mirena were negative enough that I told the hubby to look into a vasectomy and he's considering it ;) lol