Before we go any further I want to make it very, very clear that this is my experience, and because something worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for everybody. I’m also very much not a medical professional and you should always seek professional advice if you have any worries or concerns about your body.
Ok, that’s out the way. ON WITH THE SHOW.
Whenever I mention that I have the coil (or IUD) I get endless questions, so I thought the best thing to do would be gather all those questions and answer them all in one nice, tidy space.
The most common question I get is ‘does it hurt to have it inserted?’, unfortunately I can’t actually advise on this one as I was under sedation for other fanny admin while it was fitted. That’s not very helpful I know as it was definitely the most asked question, so I decided to outsource to my lovely friend Ashley (she has a brilliant blog filled with amazing recipes and the truths of being a new mum here). She also explained removal, which I haven’t been through yet (but is definitely the bit I, and many others, dread).
Ashley said ‘having the coil put in was described to me in advance as ‘uncomfortable’. In reality it was quite painful but over quickly. I didn’t know quite how much poking and prodding it would entail until I got there. They have to do a pelvic exam to check size and position of your uterus first and then they use a speculum to get a good view before clamping your cervix – that was the bit I found painful. My advice would be to do as much deep breathing as possible and try very hard to relax everything below your belly button. After that it’s pretty speedy. I had some light bleeding and heavy cramps for a few days and after that my periods were might lighter though similar duration to before and I still got period pain. Having it taken out wasn’t great because the threads got wrapped up inside my womb so the doctor has to use a special instrument to remove it. But again, it was over quite quickly and was a piece of cake considering I’ve now gone through pregnancy and childbirth.’
A lot of people had questions about copper coil vs hormonal coil. I went for the hormonal coil (Mirena), I was warned that the copper coil can cause much heavier and more painful periods, which as somebody who already has periods that would mentally scar Jack the Ripper wasn’t something I was willing to risk.
I was on the Pill for years (as most girls are) and it had a terrible affect on my mental health, to the point where I would never, ever take that little mind-fucker again. I was concerned about the hormones in the coil, but the nurse who ran through the details with me explained that the hormonal dose is a lot lower. I found a good post with details of the difference in levels here. I can confirm that personally I have had none of the hormonal/emotional/somewhat psychotic responses that I used to have on the Pill. Which is glorious.
‘Can you/your partner feel it?’ no. I wouldn’t know it was there if it wasn’t for my monthly thread checks (very important, Ashley was keen to point this out too as her friend recently had to have surgery to remove it as it was embedded in her womb!! And you know… if it’s not in properly, babies can happen.) I asked Matt and he said he definitely hasn’t noticed anything peculiar, which is always a relief to hear. I think it can depend on your cervix/vagina/penis size, as some people have reported some penis prodding, but it doesn’t seem to be overly common. One friend also told me… and I quote ‘I got mine fucked so high they had to send a search party for it’ so that’s worth noting.
‘How long does it last?’ the Mirena can last five years. Some types of IUD can last up to ten years. Your GP/nurse can give you more information on this. It can be up to 99% effective, this is the same as the Pill, however that relies on it being taken completely correctly (never missing one, same time each day etc) and I don’t know anybody who manages that… like the Pill an IUD doesn’t protect against STDs. You can have it removed before you have to of course, and it doesn’t effect fertility afterwards.
‘Does it stop periods for everybody?’ unfortunately this isn’t guaranteed. I was sure that I wouldn’t be one of the lucky ones because when am I? But within a few months my periods had gotten a lot lighter. I would have been happy with that being it but they continuously got lighter and now (about nine months later) I barely have a period at all. In the past two months I’ve had maybe three days of really light period. So light it’s just basically a slight tinge. According to Merina’s website approximately 2 in 10 women stop having periods after one year. At first periods are all over the place, some people find they bleed for ages and more than once a month. It’s annoying but it should settle down after 3-6 months.
‘Does it make you feel pregnant 24/7?’ no. Thank fuck. I hate being pregnant.
‘Can the coil help with endometriosis/is it suitable for endo sufferers?’ I’m lucky that I haven’t got personal experience with endometriosis. So I asked fellow coil-haver, endo-sufferer, and all-round bloody legend Lex for her experience.
Lex said ‘I had mine fitted during my laparoscopy in 2015 so I can’t give much info on insertion or pain afterwards as it was all rolled into one. For about 3 or 4 months afterwards my periods got lighter and lighter then stopped completely (I used to have heavy periods that lasted for between 7-10 days). In the past 3 years I’ve had 3 teeeeeeny mini periods. The pain was drastically improved, I would go as far as to say life-changing. I would still get pain, fuzzy head, heavy legs etc but nothing near what I had before. In the past year or so my symptoms have started to sneak back so I’m going back to the doctor to see if I need another lap. In all my research before my surgery I saw that it’s rare for people to only ever need one surgery. But I wish I’d had the surgery and the coil put in YEARS ago. It’s not just about the pain, it’s the quality of life you have when you don’t have to worry about periods and spend a fortune on sanitary items. I do have to add that periods stopping is common but definitely not guaranteed. One of the reasons I was scared about going off the Pill is because I loved that I knew (to the hour!) When I would come on and stop. It was scary to leave that behind, but I’m so glad I did.’
She also wanted me to let you know that she has some posts on her blog about endo here and you can also drop her a message on Instagram (@TalontedLex if you don’t follow her you’re doing Instagram wrong) if you have specific questions, which is ever so kind!
‘Is it really complicated?’ not at all. Your GP/nurse will show you how to check the threads to make sure it’s in place, you need to do this once a month. You can 100% use this as an excuse to spend some time with yourself… I probably need to have mine replaced unfortunately as when I had my LLETZ (treatment for abnormal cells post-smear) one of the threads was cut so I only have one to let me know it’s still in there.
‘Does it affect your skin/weight gain/have any other side effects?!’ not for me it hasn’t no. Again, because the hormonal dose is so much lower than other hormonal contraception it’s less likely to have adverse side effects. Of course if you take the Pill and find it helps your skin etc, it probably won’t help you in the same way.
‘Does it help with PMT?’ I certainly think so, as my periods became lighter the rest of the symptoms that come along with them definitely seemed to calm down too.
‘How far do the threads come down?’ not very. You have to find your way all the way up to your cervix to find them. The doctor who fits it will trim them to make sure they’re not in the way. I definitely worried it was going to be a bit tampon stringy. It’s not.
‘Has it ever caused you any pain when its in?’ none at all. If it causes pain then it isn’t inserted properly and you need to see your GP ASAP as it could mean that it has moved and could become embedded which is dangerous.
I think I’ve managed to condense most of the messages so they are all answered. As I said at the beginning this is just my personal experience, I am not medically trained in any way.
One last tip I’ll leave you with is if you have a lot of questions about contraception going to a clinic that is set up specifically for family planning can give you information in a much more personal way than seeing your GP. Clinics such as Marie Stopes don’t just provide abortions they can also advise brilliantly on contraception and you can get most treatments on the NHS through them.
Of course no contraception is perfect for everybody, I know women who really didn’t get on with the coil and in that case it can be a nightmare, especially as you can’t just immediately get rid like you could with the Pill you have to wait until you can have it removed. For us it’s perfect as we’re 99.9999% sure we don’t want any more babies, but in case I suddenly get the urge to have another demon child we don’t want to head straight for the snip (or castration).
If you have questions I haven’t covered just drop me a message and if I have an answer, I’ll get back to you, if not I’ll try and direct you somewhere that will.