Treatments for Endo: The Mirena Coil

The official line from my favourite informative website:

“The Mirena Coil – The Mirena Coil is used by some doctors to treat the symptoms of Endometriosis by reducing the amount of blood flow in a woman’s periods.

The Mirena Coil is like many other types of Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices (IUD’s or coils) in that it is fitted by a doctor and remains in the womb for a fixed amount of time, after which it must be changed.

Most IUD’s make a woman’s periods heavier, but the Mirena actually makes periods lighter than usual. Because of this, it is frequently used as a treatment for heavy periods, and is now used as a treatment option for Endometriosis, for the same reason of reducing blood loss with the menstrual cycle.

It is made of a light, plastic, T-shaped frame with the stem of the ‘T’ a bit thicker than the rest. This stem contains a tiny storage system of a hormone called Levonorgestrel.

This hormone is also used in contraceptive pills. In the Mirena, however, a much lower dose is released than take the Pill (about 1/7th strength), and it goes directly to the lining of the womb, rather than through the blood stream where it may lead to the common progesterone-type side effects.

Although the IUD was originally developed as a contraceptive, the discovery that it leads to much lighter periods was seen as a bonus. Many gynaecologists now suggest the Mirena as a treatment for heavy periods if tablet treatment doesn’t work.

After 3 months use, the average blood loss is 85% less, and by 12 months the flow is reduced by 97% every cycle About one third of women using the IUS will not have any periods at all. There is no ‘build up’ of blood, because the hormone in the IUD prevents the lining of the womb from building up at all.

Negatives of the Mirena Coil

There are many who feel that the Mirena Coil is very unsuitable as a treatment for Endometriosis as this particular type of Coil increases the risk of developing ovarian cysts.

It is the use of synthetic Progestogen hormones used in the coil that increase the chance of benign ovarian cysts. This is more common with the higher hormone levels associated with the progestagen-only pill. Overall the risk is about 3 times higher. The device could also lead to other complications of infection in the womb.”

As informative as this is, there are no mention of the possible side effects.  Details of this can be found here:

“Medicines and their possible side effects can affect individual people in different ways. The following are some of the side effects that are known to be associated with this medicine. Just because a side effect is stated here, it does not mean that all people using this medicine will experience that or any side effect.

Very common (affect more than 1 in 10 people)

  • Change in menstrual bleeding, such as spotting, lighter bleeding or stopping of bleeding.
  • Development of fluid filled sacks (cysts) in the ovaries.

Common (affect between 1 in 10 and 1 in 100 people)

  • Depression.
  • Nervousness.
  • Headache.
  • Decreased sex drive.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Acne.
  • Back or pelvic pain.
  • Painful periods.
  • Breast pain or tenderness.
  • Vaginal inflammation or discharge.
  • Weight gain.

Uncommon (affect between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 people)

  • Mood changes.
  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Migraine.
  • Hair loss or hair growth.
  • Skin reactions such as rash or itching.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease.
  • Inflammation of the womb.
  • Inflammation of the cervix.
  • Excessive fluid retention in the body tissues, resulting in swelling (oedema).

Rare (affect between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 10,000 people)

  • Perforation of the womb.

The side effects listed above may not include all of the side effects reported by the medicine’s manufacturer. For more information about any other possible risks associated with this medicine, please read the information provided with the medicine or consult your doctor or pharmacist.”

OK so far?  Now it’s worth speaking to people who have had experience with the Mirena Coil – if only to know things that the doctors may have failed to mention.  For instance, I would recommend taking a paracetamol before your appointment for insertion.  While I didn’t find the experience as bad as my endo pain, the pain was significant enough for me to mention to friends who are considering the coil.

Ultimately, my experience with the Mirena Coil was less than satisfactory.  I had one inserted and it twisted my bowel in two places.  Within just a few months I was having another surgery, partly for my polycystic ovaries and partly to untwist my bowel and partly to remove that awful coil.

I know the coil feels a lifesaver for some.  Knowing what I know now, I probably would have tried the thing again in desperation for relief from my endo pain.  However, if you are aware of the risks involved, you are more likely to demand the correct treatment in your follow-up appointments.  Information is vital.  Don’t make decisions in haste.

Wishing you a healthier tomorrow