The Mirena Coil Worked For This Woman With PMS
Some women with PMS have a positive experience with the Mirena Coil. Here’s a very honest interview with one woman who suffered terrible PMS but found relief when she had a Mirena Coil fitted.
She also mentions how useful it is to keep a PMS diary to prove to doctors that your symptoms are caused by your monthly cycle and not anything else – making it less likely that you’ll be fobbed off.
Also in the video is Professor John Studdwho has done a lot to get the medical professional to recognise PMS and has worked with countless women with extreme and enduring PMS or PMDD. I’m not sure how comforting it is when he says that at least PMS problems finish once you hit the menopause though – that’s a long time to wait, and most of us have a lot of living to do till then!
How Does The Mirena Coil Work?
You may already have heard of the IUD (inter-uterine device) which is a contraceptive coil made of plastic and copper which stops pregnancy without stopping periods, although it’s generally not as popular these days as the contraceptive pill.
The Mirena coil (Mirena being the brand name) is different form an IUD contraceptive coil in that it also releases a type of progesterone (levonorgestrel). It’s therefore called an IUS (inter-uterine system). Whereas IUDs prevent pregnancy but often leads to longer, heavier periods, the Mirena coil (or IUS) makes periods shorter, lighter and less painful – although it still acts as a contraceptive too.
In some women, the hormone released by the Mirena Coil have the effect of preventing the ovaries from releasing eggs, stopping ovulation. (This also helps to make the IUS even more effective than the IUD.)
Because of it’s effect on periods, the Mirena Coil is often given to women to control heavy period bleeding; for example, in women with fibroids. It can also be given to women after the menopause instead of traditional HRT, usually in combination with oestrogen.
Insertion of the Mirena Coil is done by a specially trained doctor using a local aneasthetic. Some women find this procedure rather painful but experiences vary and taking a painkiller beforehand can often help.
It can take a few months for hormone levels to adjust and for the IUS to work properly, and some women experience side effects, such as breast tenderness, spots, bloating, headaches or mood changes. This NHS Choices page has some useful feedback from women who’ve had it fitted for contraceptive use and their experiences (scroll down to the bottom of the page for Comments). As the Mirena coil can last for up to five years from insertion, women can just forget it’s there and don’t have to remember to take any pills.
How The Mirena Coil Works for PMS
There is very little published research about the use of the Mirena for PMS, rather than as a contraceptive, but Professor Studd reports good results in his private clinic in London when using the Mirena Coil plus oestrogen given as a skin patch in the treatment of PMS. He reports that it has stopped some women considering a hysterectomy – which is certainly a very radical solutions to the problem of PMS.
As he says in the video, PMS is caused by hormone fluctuations which start at the time of ovulation, and I think there is no dispute about that fact. He goes on to say that it follows therefore that if you can suppress ovulation and manage the hormone changes, PMS can be treated. That’s why synthetic hormones like the contraceptive pill or the Mirena Coil IUS plus oestrogen patches are used, and Professor Studd sees no reason not to suppress ovulation on an ongoing basis in order to give relief from PMS symptoms.
I would add some words of caution to this.
Cautions About The Mirena Coil for PMS Treatment
In my view, the Mirena Coil is not a solution for the majority of women with PMS. For example, it is clearly not a practical solution for those women with PMS who also want to get pregnant and don’t want or need contraception.
As there is limited published research about the use of the Mirena Coil for PMS, it should only be considered by women with very serious PMS or PMDD, for whom the other options for PMS management have not worked.
The NAPS Clinical Guidelines for PMS also point out that the Mirena coil can initially produce PMS-type symptoms for those women who are progestogen intolerant – the very reverse of what it’s intended to do.
However, the biggest issue to consider is whether any woman’s health is best served by the long-term use of synthetic hormones, whether it be the contraceptive pill, the Mirena Coil or HRT. A very convenient option, certainly. But healthier in the long run? I’m not so sure. Is it right to suppress ovulation which is part of a woman’s natural cycle, for example?
The widespread use of synthetic hormones is relatively recent (rising steadily over the last fifty years or so) and we have yet to see the long-term effects of their use. However, there are some initial studies which should give us pause for thought, such as the famous Women’s Health Initiative which showed the risks resulting from certained types of combined (oestrogen and progestin) HRT in 162,000 post-menopausal women.
I believe that Premenstrual Syndrome is a symptom of a complex set of underlying causes, and therefore it makes sense to me to treat the causes of hormonal imbalance rather than just to treat the symptoms. Although lifestyle changes may not be appropriate for cases of the most severe PMS or PMDD, most cases of mild to moderate PMS can be improved by a holistic approach to exercise, good nutrition and (whole foods, essential fatty acids and targeted supplementation) and self-care (including reducing stress and getting more sleep). This is the approach which I’ve used to (mostly!) beat my own PMS.
I’ll be writing posts about how to balance hormones naturally, and about whether Gynaecologists are in fact the best placed doctors to treat PMS soon.
Thanks for reading.