If you listen to the anecdotal evidence on the blogosphere about the hazards of Mirena IUDs, you may be dissuaded from using that particular form of birth control.
Anecdotal evidence is not considered good proof. When thousands of people use a product, a few of them may have unusual experiences that never happen to the vast majority of users.
But anecdotal evidence comes from real people, some of whom have experienced heart-breaking tragedies. Their stories are surely of interest to anyone who is weighing the risks associated with a particular product.
Do a Google search on the phrase “My Mirena Story.” That phrase appears tens of thousands of times on the Internet. It is like a grassroots support group — thousands and thousands of women who have connected with each other and console each other by sharing their “Mirena story” with each other and the online world.
My Missing Mirena
Brandy Mann is a software developer, mother of two and blogger in North Carolina who posted My Missing Mirena in March (if you click on the link, be advised, Brandy is prone to some “colorful” language). Brandy says her Mirena IUD migrated to her pelvis.
About a month after the IUD was inserted, when Brandy went in for an exam, her doctor could not locate the device. She had to submit to a vaginal ultrasound, but that didn’t help. Her IUD had gone AWOL, according to her account.
Next up was an X-ray, which succeeded in locating the device in Brandy’s pelvis. Brandy even posted the X-ray image on her blog. She had to undergo surgery to have the device retrieved and removed.
The Truth About Mirena
On the website, The Truth about the Mirena IUD, an anonymous female blogger describes the adverse effects she experienced after having the device inserted. Unlike many “My Mirena Stories,” she did not experience device migration; nor did she need any corrective surgery. Nevertheless, her personal account is compelling.
Her first negative symptom was weight gain. Not just a few extra pounds, but significant gain, causing a swollen stomach and enlarged breasts. These results were even more stressful because she was engaged to be married and her wedding was approaching.
According to her blog post, she gained 50 pounds. Her blood pressure shot sky high. She lost her sex drive. She wrote:
“This has been a hard year … I have had to witness my strong, athletic body go to hell, and have been helpless to stop or reverse the changes. I have stretch marks like a pregnant woman. My breasts are freakishly huge, and my stomach is swollen and hard. I am so ashamed of my body now … I am depressed, and cry easily, which is unlike me. … I have read story after story like this [from other Mirena users] on the Internet.”
I Hate You, Mirena
The most heartbreaking Mirena story I have read is that of Jennifer Martin. Jennifer has devoted a website to her Mirena IUD experience that consists of just five blog posts.
Jennifer had a Mirena IUD inserted in July 2012. In September, she was shocked to have a positive result on a home pregnancy test. An ultrasound revealed that her Mirena device had migrated to whereabouts unknown. It was also confirmed that Jennifer was indeed pregnant.
A pregnancy is one of the worst things that can happen when using a Mirena IUD, and here’s why. The way the device works to prevent pregnancies is that it releases a steady dose of the hormone levonorgestrel. If a pregnancy nevertheless results, the levonorgestrel will attack the pregnancy, significantly reducing the chances of reaching full term.
When the pregnancy was discovered, Jennifer said she never questioned what she would do: she was keeping the pregnancy. On two subsequent doctor’s visits, Jennifer saw her baby’s beating heart on an ultrasound and the doctor told her she had a healthy baby on the way. “I immediately loved that baby!” Jennifer wrote.
However, shortly after that, Jennifer had a miscarriage. In the aftermath of the miscarriage, she had to undergo a D&C. Two weeks after that, Jennifer’s IUD finally turned up in her large intestine. She had to undergo another surgery to have it removed. Finally, because the IUD perforated Jennifer’s uterus, she ultimately had to have a hysterectomy.
Here’s how Jennifer summed up her “Mirena story”:
“I hate you, Mirena, I believe with every heartbeat I have, that the Mirena caused this … The Mirena caused all my heartache, all my pain and now it’s going to cause me to lose my uterus. Something no one can give me back. It’s taking my womanhood, my child-bearing organ and what … started out as a growing life. I will never be the same.”