What's wrong with my ladybits?
November 28, 2017 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm having extremely weird ladyparts symptoms. YANMD, but have my symptoms ever happened to you? (Gross details inside.)

Relevant details: I'm a 29 year old woman with a history of hilariously weird adverse effects to birth control. As in, I had a Skyla for 12 months and then, after it working perfectly for that time, it decided to make my periods more rather than less frequent and eventually they just didn't stop. I had been bleeding for almost a month by the time they pulled it out. That kind of weird.

My current birth control method is the Paragard (copper) IUD, which I've had for almost exactly one year. Currently I'm having what can best be described as a Situation. Over the past few months, I've had a slow ramp-up of low key painful and irritating symptoms. These include:

- Prolonged periods, between 7 - 10 days (not unusual with IUD but possibly relevant)
- A UTI (my first since I was 19) - treated with a full course of Macrobid
- VERY thick, clumpy, almost... gritty? without the grit? white vaginal discharge totally unlike any other I've ever had
- Elevated white blood cell count in said discharge
- Between mild to medium pain during and after sex, including soreness and burning
- Continuing mild bladder irritation and spasm even after UTI treatment, including a feeling like I need to bear down a bit harder than usual to pee
- A feeling of heaviness or fullness in the lower abdomen/uterus area
- Mild feeling of fullness/pressure on bladder
- Sometimes a feeling of pressure towards back/tailbone area
- Random, one-sided feeling cramps in my uterus that last for about 5 seconds and then I won't get another for several days
- Shooting pains in lower back in the kidney region
- Also random short-term bouts of burning sensation in vaginal area (all internal, no external symptoms whatsoever and no itching)

All of these things only began occurring after I got my IUD. Could be total coincidence. To give you an idea of my normal state, I previously have had almost no menstrual cramping, never had BV, never had a yeast infection, never had weird discharge, and stopped getting UTIs after I realized I was allergic to latex and quit using latex condoms a decade ago.

Happily I have a good doctor who is taking this seriously. I'm on a course of antibiotics and I have an ultrasound scheduled for later this month. In the meantime, here are some things that it's not:

- No yeast was found from a vaginal wet mount
- No clue cells
- No chlamydia, gonorrhea, HIV, or syphilis
- No leukocytes or nitrates in urine
- Periods are regular as clockwork (28 days on the nose)
- No pain or irregularities when palpating the uterus
- No intense pain at any point (nothing to make me breathe faster or double over, for instance)
- IUD strings are in correct position
- Symptoms may get slightly worse around PMS, but do not seem correlated with ovulation
- I do have some spotting in between periods but that started when I got my Paragard and is also not uncommon, it's never much and historically it's not accompanied by my other symptoms

Uterus-havers of Mefi, what could this be? It's starting to bum out my sex life and my personal psychology pretty hard and I would love to find a cause. Thank you!
posted by WidgetAlley to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Did they rule out Pelvic Inflammatory Disease? This sounds like that. Pain sounds similar to what I've had with Endo, but no weird discharge for me.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: When I had half of your symptoms in my late 20s, my doc guessed a newly-developed sensitivity to copper and I had my Paragard removed; I'd had it for about 18 months at that point. (I already knew I was allergic to latex, and sensitivities to nickel, tin and iron have ramped up in the 15 years since removal.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:55 PM on November 28, 2017 [4 favorites]

Trichomonis or Gardnerella, need flagyl to clear, trichomonis will make periods heavier. Copper or metal, sometimes pierces the uterus, I have a sister who had unreasonable bleeding, she wanted a hot balloon sort of hysterectomy, they wouldn't do it. The symptoms changed and what happened is a metal bit from an IUD, that no one noticed didn't come out when the IUD was taken out, perforated her uterus, and then set about perforating her bowel. They finally found it with xray or ultrasound. Then it was all fixed up, and she returned to normal in every way. If your previous IUD had a metal piece, it might still be in there. When I was young and needed an IUD I was told that in general they were 97% effective, no matter which one you used. So a less reactive one than copper might be what you need. I would say you need nothing in there for a good, long while. If you have taken a bunch of antibiotics be sure to get a broad spectrum probiotic to return you bacteria to healthy normal.
posted by Oyéah at 10:03 PM on November 28, 2017

Response by poster: Sorry, should have added, also clear of trichomoniasis (and the lack of clue cells suggests no overgrowth of gardnerella as well.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:08 PM on November 28, 2017

Best answer: Based on the entirely anecdotal experiences of myself and the pool of approximately 30 women with whom I have discussed post-IUD vagina stuff: Remove your IUD.

IUDs agree marvelously with some women. Unfortunately, some others experience a neverending panoply of bizarre, annoying, and /or painful things that mysteriously surface, snowball, and then never quite clear up. I was one of the unlucky ones.

The most frustrating part for me was that none of the several gynecologists I saw were willing even to entertain the possibility that my IUD was the cause of my many symptoms. It sounds like you don’t have that problem, which is awesome! Nevertheless, if I were you, I’d just take the durned thing out and see whether things return to normal. It’s easier than the continued hassle of endless appointments, and if the symptoms don’t clear, you can always have a new one inserted.

Best of luck. Vagina problems suck.
posted by sevensnowflakes at 10:30 PM on November 28, 2017 [5 favorites]

You should probably get an ultrasound or x-ray to see if your IUD has turned, shifted, or deformed. But honestly, its probably all your IUD.
posted by stormygrey at 2:52 AM on November 29, 2017

Best answer: I guess the IUD is the problem...I recently changed mine for a gynefix mini, which rather than being the usual T-shape (which I think is what was irritating my womb somehow) it's a simple line shape which they have to tether to your womb lining (sounds weird isn't any worse than a usual IUD). It's been so much more...comfortable RE the symptoms on your 1st list. Good luck!
posted by london explorer girl at 5:19 AM on November 29, 2017

There was a bit on NPR this week about a particular kind of implant (Essure) and women who were actually allergic to it and all the horrible symptoms they had. The allergy was to nickel, which is often used to make copper stronger. Do you know if you have a nickel (or copper!) allergy?
posted by clone boulevard at 8:01 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Reminds me of my bad IUD experience, but I'd also throw out there endometriosis and interstitial cystitis as things to rule out.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:00 AM on November 29, 2017

Best answer: I had every symptom you list a few years after I got my Paraguard. I spent thousands of dollars on every test they have trying to figure out what was wrong with no luck. Then I got fed up and just had my IUD removed thinking it would at least dial down the periods. Every single symptom cleared up within a month.

Take it out. If nothing else, it will help rule out some things and your periods will be lighter.
posted by ananci at 12:51 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for your answers so far everyone! Thrilling updates: my ultrasound revealed that I have a 2.3 cm ovarian cyst that might be hemorrhagic. I guess it's possible that's causing my symptoms, but it's my understanding that's a pretty small cyst and my symptoms seem disproportionate to me. If anyone has had any experience with ovarian cysts, I'd love to know if this seems like a reasonable reaction!
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:27 PM on November 30, 2017

Best answer: Yup, had one of those too. It suuuuccked. It recurred a few times, which also sucked. Now that my IUD is gone, it hasn't come back. Possibly coincidence, but I think not. YMMV, obvs, but I still think you should consider ditching the Paraguard.
posted by ananci at 10:35 PM on December 4, 2017

I've also had bouts with ovarian cysts -- my IUD woes were a separate matter, even though I had a couple of cysts in the same period of time. (From your symptoms list: for me, my cysts always triggered the feeling of fullness/pressure, the not-quite-empty-bladder sensation, and caused some discomfort during sex depending on the position we were in.) I agree with the other posters, have the IUD removed and then re-assess. Best wishes.
posted by Iris Gambol at 8:57 AM on December 5, 2017

Response by poster: Thanks so much for your answers! A follow up for anyone else who might find this question: I had my Paragard removed and almost all my symptoms magically cleared up within a week, including the ones possibly caused by the cyst. Obviously the Paragard did not agree with me-- and I didn't realize it, but it was causing so much lower abdominal inflammation and fluid retention that you could actually see the swelling. (I've always had a very flat stomach/abdomen but in the last year my lower abdomen got a little more convex-- I thought it was just some weight gain and me coming up on 30. Nope. When I got the Paragard removed it went away in that first week and I'm back to flat.)

The only symptoms remaining are the UTI-like ones, and they're much better. My gyno suspects a case of very, very mild case of interstitial cystitis. No one knows quite why IC happens but one theory is it's an autoimmune response sometimes triggered by an allergen, so if I was allergic to my Paragard, that would make sense. It's continuing to improve and largely controlled by avoiding citrus fruits and taking d-mannose, marshmallow root, and aloe vera supplements. I'm hopeful it will resolve itself over time. Thanks so much to everyone who pointed me in the right direction!
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

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