The good red road (figuring out my cycle on Mirena)
December 27, 2017 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Hi, I'm trying to understand how to figure out my cycle/hormonal fluctuations while using Mirena.

I got the Mirena about 18 months ago, and for the most part it's great. I almost never have a real period, only some light spotting here and there, and that is not even every month. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me, but it has really thrown off my sense of what my cycle feels like in a felt sense kind of way.

Tonight I had an outrageously sad meltdown, all told it was 2 hours of on and off sobbing, outlandish and fatalistic thinking, and I just could not stop crying - I'd get it together and then start up again. Due to other MH stuff, I sometimes have emotional meltdowns, but this felt very different because I just felt totally out of control like I could not regulate myself at all. Yesterday I burst into tears at a Metafilter comment and then again could not stop leaking. It FEELS like it has a flavor of the hormonal.

I'm wondering if anyone can explain to me as if I were a child how I can somehow track my cycle to see what matches up, if anything, to these terrible breakdowns. I'd really like to figure out how to somehow ameliorate them. They were worse than this before Mirena, so I don't think it's the Mirena itself that's causing them, as it actually seems to be chilling them out some. They happen much less frequently now, but the impact of them on my general sense of wellness and on my relationship is not great.

Thanks for any understanding you can give me -- honestly, assume I don't know... really anything about how to do this.
posted by fairlynearlyready to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Get the Clue phone app (or a similar one.) You can track your symptoms including mood and custom tags/notes. Then you can export it and play around with the data.

You may also want to include things like caffeine, sleep (or lack of), exercise, medication, certain foods, etc. All of those can affect mood and hormones and irritability.

I would also talk to your doctor and see if there are any medications that may help or any hormone/blood/vitamin levels they need to check (thyroid, vitamin D, etc.) which can affect mood. It's possible an endocrinologist would be the place to go or a OBGYN who specializes in endocrinology.

My personal experience is that hormonal BC (pill) made me severely depressed. After I stopped, my periods got worse and while my mood lifted, I still get extra sensitive before my cycle. I also have endometriosis and got resection surgery 7 months ago. My moods feel much more stable as my cycle has changed and stabilized in the past few months.

You gotta just start tracking all the data and get a good doctor on your side to help you find solutions.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:09 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had to get Mirena removed because while I did stop bleeding I was still having the hormonal cycles and getting crazy depressed a few days a month. I could totally track it by paying attention/noting to my emotions and my reactions to things. I'm now back on the pill with continuous use (I skip the placebo week) and it's much much better for me.
posted by brainmouse at 11:15 PM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I should add - I didn't understand before getting Mirena that when people said it "stopped your period" that only means it stops the bleeding - it doesn't stop the monthly hormonal cycle. My cycles were less severe on Mirena than on nothing, but continuous use hormonal birth control (+ Zoloft) has made things so much better.
posted by brainmouse at 11:18 PM on December 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding Clue. Mark when you spot, when you have mood swings, etc. I personally get something like PMS where the MS never arrives every so often with the Mirena, mostly breast tenderness and a little moodiness (I've had mine a little over a year.) I tend to have a tiny three-day period like once a quarter which is a vast relief from the "HI THERE LET'S BLEED FOREVER" I was having before. Good luck!
posted by oblique red at 12:00 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In addition to tracking mood and spotting, also look for any other warnings signs you had prior to the Mirena. Things like changes in skin (dryness or breakouts) or maybe food cravings. While I rarely have a cycle now, these are a couple ways I know one is about to hit. For me, these triggers also happen on a straight hormonal cycle.
posted by MandaSayGrr at 4:45 AM on December 28, 2017

I have not had Mirena, but I do have bipolar II and it was drastically exacerbated when I was having periods. I've been taking continuous birth control for endometriosis for about 3 years and my mental health has honestly never been better. (My face, too -- OMG. That's how I can really tell that the hormone levels are stable.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:45 AM on December 28, 2017

You can tell somewhat by changes in vaginal discharge. I still get the cervical mucus changes when I’m ovulating even though I never get my period. Between that and a journal of symptoms you might be able to determine cycle length and eventually predict hormonal activity.

If you really wanted to get precise, get some ovulation prediction kits and a copy of Taking Charge of your Fertility. It has many techniques to track cycles.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:06 AM on December 28, 2017

In my experience it was random - many months without issue and then suddenly shark week and light spotting. I used to be a total fertility awareness tracker and it just defied the rules for me. Sorry.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:18 AM on December 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

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