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Mirena IUD: Will the spotting ever cease?
November 22, 2012 6:33 AM   Subscribe

IUD Filter: How long should I wait for my Mirena IUD to 'settle down'? TMI inside.

I've read through all the previous Mirena questions, but can't find anything specific about how long it may take for spotting to cease.

I had a Mirena IUD inserted at the very end of January this year (9.5 months ago). I had pretty regular spotting for the first few months, and while it did lighten up, I still have spotting for between 4-6 days out of every 7. It's by no means heavy, as in it doesn't soak through my underwear, but it is brownish and sometimes smells bad. Sometimes it's like a weird body odour, sometimes it smells like the heavy discharge I got during pregnancy (kinda sweet but also wrong smelling). I also get bits of random mucos, mostly brown, which sometimes gets all stuck up in my hair. All of this grosses me out, and makes me much less likely to get busy with my fella, unless I've showered within the last 30 mins.

In good news, I don't get an actual period, just a few random cramps every now and then and I can't tell you how much I prefer living life without a period. I suck at keeping my clothes blood free, and just generally resent having to buy tampons or deal with all that blood. I also can't tell you how much I prefer not having the 'am I about to get pregnant' brain fuck that used to occur monthly. I just don't want to have regular periods, or get pregnant.

I've been to my lovely GP, who checked me out and sent off lots of swabs. Everything came back normal - with lots of good bacteria reported. She wasn't able to offer much advice, so just asked if I wanted it removed. I asked if it would be worthwhile going on the pill, so she gave me a script.

I would much rather NOT go on the pill as well (and is that a crazy idea in itself?), so I'm wondering if it is worth waiting it out? Things ARE a lot better than what they were the first 3-6 months, so is it worth waiting a full year?

Please hope me.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I don't have Mirena, but I do have the Nexplanon implant which iirc is the same hormone but in a different place (arm rather than uterus) and a slightly higher dosage.

I mention this because I had a very similar experience (gross brown discharge/frequent light spotting) for months after insertion. It's now just over a year and a half since I got it and it can still be a little unpredictable (ninja two day periods, yay!), but the spotting has almost completely stopped. I attribute this to time and asking my GP to be put on the combined pill for three months (I had to do this twice before it "stuck", ymmv) to regulate things.

I would recommend trying the pill for a few months and seeing how that goes. The first time my GP suggested it I asked if it's completely ludicrous to be on two forms of BC at once and she said it's absolutely fine and pretty routine for this kind of problem. If the pill doesn't work and you're still unhappy, it might be worth looking into whether a different form of BC would be better for you.
posted by fight or flight at 6:52 AM on November 22, 2012


Also, for what it's worth, I was told that one of the ways progesterone-reliant BC works is that it loosens the uterine lining, meaning eggs can't implant. This means that everything is just a whole lot.. squishier in there, hence random spotting. In the first few months after insertion I would find my spotting got heavier after I'd had sex (particularly if it was, um, very enthusiastic), which I attributed to delicate lady organs getting all shook up.

I don't know if knowing that helps, but it made me feel a bit better to know that what I was seeing meant the device was working, rather than my body just freaking out.
posted by fight or flight at 6:56 AM on November 22, 2012


The slightly more technical version of the above explanation - progesterone taken alone weakens capillary walls in the endometrium. It suppresses your estrogen production somewhat, and estrogen is what the capillaries need to mend and stop bleeding. This is what the supplemental pills will do, or even go and ask for estrogen only, since you don't really need the extra progesterone in the pill. Otherwise, this is still a great big unsolved problem in contraception, and there isn't much you can do except take it out.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:21 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mine took about a year to completely even out. I had irregular spotting and a few surprises. It was a bit of a pain but those days are completely over. My periods are practically nonexistent these days. The doctor who did the insertion warned me that it would take at least six months (if I recall correctly) and to suck it up and be patient ("Suck it up" was the actual phrase she used). I would wait it out.

Also, get yourself a DivaCup. I like being able to insert mine in anticipation of my period, which I could never do with a tampon. Less surprises that way.
posted by futureisunwritten at 7:46 AM on November 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had this kind of constant spotting too and I'm sorry to say it never did even out. I gave it years, and when I looked back on my little spotting diary I realized I was basically bleeding more than half of my life for years! I guess I got used to it.

I finally got it removed when an ultrasound showed it had slipped too low in my uterus and may not have even been providing protection anymore (I think the spotting and the slipping were unrelated). (As a side note--while I had the Mirena I used to get abnormal Paps, which totally went away after I had it removed.) I stuck with it so long because I really wanted it to work--in theory the Mirena is awesome, but I finally realized it just didn't work for me.
posted by gubenuj at 8:02 AM on November 22, 2012


Whoo boy. I ruined every pair of non-black underwear my first year. I didn't have the smell-it was just your standard period blood, which I wouldn't drink a milkshake of or anything, but not too bad-but yeah, I spotted most days.

It's been a few years now and I have maybe 2-3 days of spotting (in a row, usually) a month.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:44 AM on November 22, 2012


It took mine about a year to settle down. I do still spot sometimes. I used some very thin cloth pads that first year, and wore them pretty much all the time because I couldn't track when I might be bleeding. Like you, it was very light, and never soaked through to my clothes, but I got tired of it being in my underwear. Cloth pads are softer and more comfortable than disposable, and in the long run, cheaper. For so little blood, it isn't a big deal to take care of them.
posted by upatree at 8:59 AM on November 22, 2012


I think I had about a year of mild spotting (handeable with pantiliners). And the after that, 3-5 days of very light flow (pantiliners again) per month.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:14 AM on November 22, 2012


My friends and I have all had experiences just like yours. Some of my friends stayed on Mirena and ended up evening out just fine after about a year. Unfortunately, my experience was a little different and after a little over a year of solid 24/7 full on period-strength bleeding (WHAT A FREAKIN NIGHTMARE!!!) I finally gave up and had it yanked. I opted for having my tubes tied, since I'm finished with my baby-makin' days, although that has meant I still have to do the regular monthly bleeding thing, and now it's not even for any particular reason except cleansing I suppose.. Anyway, I just wanted to throw in my two cents; everyone is different. If I were you I would definitely wait it out a couple/few more months, because you've come this far already, you might as well see if you're one of the gals that will even out at the year mark, and if so you can experience the joy of little to no monthly visit from Aunt Flo. ;) But IMO if you get to the year and a month/2 months mark and things aren't better, it might be time to add yourself to my category and try a different route. Until then it sounds like you might also have success in adding the pill, but that's up to you. Either way I wish you luck and hopefully you're just around the corner from evening out and getting some permanent relief!
posted by chasethecarrot at 11:01 AM on November 22, 2012


Mine settled down after about a year or so. I still occasionally get odd cramps (different from period cramps) but not nearly as bad as before.

(I see someone mentioned the Diva Cup upthread; if you go that route, be very careful to break the seal when removing it. I yanked out my first IUD because I just pulled on the Cup and it was NOT FUN.)
posted by third word on a random page at 1:08 PM on November 22, 2012


Just to chime in with my own experience, I had the light but frequent spotting throughout all 5 years of my first Mirena (ruined all my underwear until I realized that pantyliners were a thing), but with my second Mirena (am in year 3 currently), it stopped completely. No spotting, NO PERIODS. Whatsoever. Not that this info really helps you with what you're dealing with now, OP, but I would do everything you can to tough it out and don't switch to the pill. If and when you get past the grossies, it's a freakin dream come true.
posted by désoeuvrée at 6:10 PM on November 22, 2012


I was told it usually levels out after a year but spotting may always occur. I'm in month 7 cramping and spotting right now so I feel your frustration. It's gotten better, but I'm finding that for me, I'm spotting about as often as I was when continually cycling my birth control pills (both regular pills and the ones designed for extended use). This makes me think that my body just kind of insists on occasional purging. The staff at the PP I had my insertion done at reported different experiences, usually of the "nothing after the first year" variety.
posted by sm1tten at 11:14 AM on November 23, 2012


Wow, I'm sorry-- that must suck for the sexy time!

At any rate, IUDs affect every woman differently. I have the other kind of IUD (Copper-T) and I do randomly spot sometimes and my nether-regions are definitely a bit different these days thanks to said IUD... especially around period time. I used to get my period like clockwork on the same day every month... and it always lasted exactly 3 days. Now it's unpredictable and painful. It could last anywhere from 4 to 8 days.... and the blood is sometimes super red, sometimes brown and anywhere any between. Personally, I think the IUD is worth the weird periods/spotting thanks to the low low chance of pregnancy, but that's just me!

I would say that the Mirena causes more of these issues since there's hormones involved. Have you ever thought about getting the copper T instead? (that way you don't have an IUD and are taking the pill on top of that?)
posted by camylanded at 8:58 AM on November 24, 2012


I had 2 Mirenas before I got pregnant, and both times within a year the spotting had completely stopped.

I had one put in after my baby was born (he was born in Dec '10, I had it put in in Feb. '11) and the spotting has yet to cease, almost 2 years later. It is also heavier than it ever was with either of my previous two Mirenas -- not enough for anything more than a pantiliner, but still more noticeable. (And as an aside, I have noticed a bit more of a ... smell ... than before, but I am still breastfeeding so I'm hoping that has something to do with it.)

So in my completely unscientific opinion based on a test group of 1, the spotting is worse in women who have given birth than women who haven't.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2012


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