This is part two of my IUD series, about the weird side effects I’ve gotten from sticking a hormone-carrying foreign object into my body. Click here for part one, about the procedure, and part three, a check-in six months after getting my IUD.
Note: This isn’t meant as medical advice, and you should take my experience with the Mirena IUD with a grain of salt because all bodies are different! That being said, I wish I had known more about the possible side effects before I got my IUD, so hopefully you’ll find this informational.
My Mirena, which I got in January, was all fun and games for about two weeks, when the only side effect I had after the initial horrendous cramping was some mild spotting. I was absolutely gleeful when pill poppin’ time would come around and I did…nothing! Nothing at all, while still preventing pregnancy with a higher effectiveness than the pill! Magical.
BUT THEN. Oh boy, but then did some shit go down.
First, I got the pimples. Okay, some pimples are a small price to pay for not being pregnant for 5 years. But these were not just some pimples. They were A LOT. I began breaking out all over my T-zone. This breakout was worse than any breakout I had ever gotten, even before I began taking the pill.
So I did what I usually do in the face of a problem: Google. Turns out that this is a pretty common thing with hormonal IUDs, since the hormones in IUDs, unlike the wonderful, blemish-clearing hormones in the pill, can actually make your skin more acne-prone.
It also didn’t help that I had been on the pill just before getting my IUD, making the transition from good skin hormones to bad skin hormones a bumpier ride. Also, my skin changed from dry to OIL SPILL. I had no idea what to do with oily skin after a lifetime of flaky, dry skin, so I had to do some more Googling and revamp my skincare routine (watch for a future post on managing hormonal acne!).
Then, I got a nasty yeast infection, which your body is more susceptible to with a hormonal IUD. The first yeast infection of my life! This yeast infection lasted about a week and caused me so much grief. I was able to get diflucan, a prescription treatment, but did not know that it can take several days to kill off the yeast infection and that when it does, the “die-off” period can cause your symptoms to worsen before they get better.
I also tried home remedies like soaking a tampon in coconut and tea tree oil and putting that in my vagina (wow, did not ever think I would get that minty fresh feeling in that part of my body), ate a whole tub of yogurt, which kills the yeast with good bacteria somehow, by myself, and sadly had to stop my rampant consumption of sugar and yeast-containing products, like BREAD and CHEEZ-ITS (basically everything delicious) because that just feeds the yeast.
Then, to top it all off, when I had finally eradicated the mutant yeast, I found out that yes, your partner can feel the string, even though all the doctors in the world will tell you that no, your partner cannot. Well, this made me pretty annoyed, because the whole reason I had gotten this freakin’ IUD was to HAVE SEX, and so far all it was doing was making sure that I stayed celibate and pimply. Not to mention that I was steadily leaking small amounts of blood the entire time.
During the peak of my itchy, pimply misery, my boyfriend got a whole lecture on how unfair it is that the burden of birth control is on the bodies of people who have uteruses and he did a good job nodding along to my tirade.
Fast forward a month, and my hormonal rollercoaster has settled down a bit. I’ve had two pretty bad breakouts, but my skin has been relatively clear for a while now. I have not had another yeast infection. And apparently, over time, the IUD string softens and becomes less noticeable, which I guess has happened with mine since my partner can’t feel it anymore. Although I’ve stopped spotting, my period is still here and crampier than ever, but I do have hopes that the IUD hormones will eventually make that go away.
This post isn’t meant to dissuade you from getting an IUD if you think it’s the right choice for you. And all bodies are different, so this was just my experience adjusting to mine.
These side effects aren’t uncommon, but it takes 3-6 months for your body to adjust to new hormones—adjusting to the hormones in the pill also took me for an emotional and stressful ride. I’m planning to check in at the 6 month mark in July and let you all know if all is finally well in IUD-land (really, really crossing my fingers!).
*This post is tagged as women’s health for visibility, but I want to acknowledge that not all people who have or may want an IUD are women.