Your choice of contraception is usually a result of many years of trial and error until you’ve found the one that works for you. We asked one woman why she chose the Mirena and why she’s sticking to it:
Why did you choose to get the Mirena inserted?
From when I had my first period I have always suffered from really bad period cramps. I would have to take days off school they were so bad. Because of this I was put on the Pill simply so I could avoid getting my period. The side-effects I suffered from the Pill, however, were feelings of depression and a low libido; not ideal. Over the next few years I juggled between being on the Pill and feeling depressed and being off the Pill and suffering these terrible cramps. It was the worst!
My gynae suggested I try out the Mirena because of the way it releases hormones. The hormones are more localised so don’t affect your brain in the same way that the Pill does. It has been nearly a year now and I have no complains and no regrets. My mind is clear and my periods have pretty much stopped. And let’s not forget the best bit, which is that I’m not pregnant.
What does getting it involve?
You have to get a script for the device (which is a small T-shaped plastic thing) from your gynaecologist then go and get it at the pharmacy. You can choose to have anaesthetic for the procedure but I opted not to because I’m afraid of needles (but not afraid of T-shaped plastic things apparently). I won’t lie; it only takes a few minutes but it hurt like hell. The gynae will use an applicator to pop it in (kind of like an applicator tampon, except way more painful). When they remove the applicator tube the Mirena stays in place.
I would recommend taking a day or two off work to just lie on the couch eating junk food and taking pain killers with a hot water bottle strapped to your tummy.
Are there any downsides?
The Mirena is pretty expensive; I paid R7000 for it. Although it was a huge amount to spend you can’t put a price on your quality of life so it was worth it for me and I would do it again. I have heard of people having bad reactions and having to take it out though. That was something I was really nervous about; to spend all that money only for it not to work.
The other major downside is how much it hurts to get put in. I was in total agony for a week, however once that pain is done it’s done for good.
What are the benefits of the Mirena?
It’s really effective; the chances of you getting pregnant while you have a Mirena inside you are really, really low. It’s also really nice to not have to think about contraception every day (like when you’re taking the Pill) or even every time you get it on (like with condoms). I’m sorted for a good few years.
What’s the deal with your period?
This is one of the biggest benefits for me. Most months I don’t even get a period but on the months that I do it’s really light and over in about two days. My period pains don’t come any more; it’s totally changed my life. I don’t have to cancel plans or stop exercising at certain times of the month any more.
I do realise that I am lucky with how my body has reacted to the Mirena though. More than one of my friends have had to have theirs taken out because of extreme cramps and heavy bleeding. One friend said her period cramps actually got worse! It’s a high risk high reward kind of contraceptive I guess.
Read more about contraceptive choices.
Read more about body health.