According to StatsSA, 58.3% of South African women are using some sort of contraceptive. In the hope of minimizing my chances of falling pregnant (right now), I have become one of them. I have been on the injection for some time now and despite the ‘guarantee’ it offers, it has also brought on a myriad of side effects including irregular bleeding and exacerbated mood swings. It’s been horrible. My emotions have been abnormally heightened: I feel fragile AF and am often down without reason. I have also been plagued with inconsistent yet incessant bleeding, especially following any rigorous activity. These struggles have continued for some time now and upon a visit to my gynae, I discovered that this was due to the intake of the Depo-Provera. When asked WHY I had chosen the 3 month solution, I realized that besides the convenience held in it not involving the nuance of taking something everyday, it was really only one of the two options I ever considered. Perhaps it is the rate at which the traditional pill and injection are widely adopted but I have never really considered anything else. My gynae introduced me to an alternative solution, “Mirena” and since the injection is clearly not working for me, I am considering my options. As I ponder on what may work best for me, I have shared some information shared about Mirena from my Gynecologist Dr Sefanyatso.
Mirena is a T-shaped Intrauterine System (IUS) which, like the loop, is inserted into the vagina but instead releases progesterone (levonorgestrel) which thins your endometrium and thus reduces the chances of falling pregnant. As a result, it is ideal for women who struggle with dysmenorrhea (heavy, painful periods) as it leads to a lighter (or no) period. The most compelling benefit is that it is a once off solution that prevents pregnancy over an extended period of time and thus does not include the nuance of consistently needing to take an action to ensure pregnancy is kept at bay. It appears ideal for someone who has no intention of falling pregnant anytime soon (me). My gynae insists that it can be ejected at any time if one wishes to fall pregnant within the five year period and unlike the other contraception methods, fertility returns within the next menstrual cycle.
Insertion requires a consultation and examination by a gynecologist and because it is fitted, the process necessitates the measurement of your uterus. The red T-shaped device is inserted in the cervix through the use of the plastic tube (pictured below) and the pulling of strings (really simplified explanation from my understanding).
Insertion can occur when one is due for the next contraceptive.
The insertion process is said to be uncomfortable and likened to period pains which can be alleviated through the use of local gels (or even sedation according to mysexualhealth.co.za)
I have read that it can potentially get dislodged which affects its efficacy (uhm?). I am not quite certain what the impact is during sex but it appears to not have an impact at all (neither you nor your partner can feel it).
Cost: It can range from R 2, 000 – R2, 800 depending on your gynae, medical aid, the use of sedation and consultation rates.
Since it releases progesterone on a daily basis over the five year period, my concern still remains the seemingly unavoidable side effects that need to be taken into account. Nausea, bloating, depression, dizziness and mood changes are still an uphill battle here. So I am not quite sure if it is worth it. The price and the insertion process are huge barriers to trial for me. But it seems, on the quest to find a solution whose side effects are manageable for me, my best bet is trial and error (which I am not too excited about).
Have you heard of or tried Mirena? Please share your experiences with me.