Does the Mirena coil work for PMS?

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.

Mirena Coil IUS used for treatment of PMS

The Mirena coil is not really a coil, more a small T shaped device inserted into your womb (Shown here upside down)

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.

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28 thoughts on “Does the Mirena coil work for PMS?

  1. I am one of the unlucky women who had a Mirena coil after an op to remove polyps – it didn't stop my periods or PMS. PMS as bad as ever, v bad in my case. I take St John's Wort and it is the only thing that has helped me slightly, and I have tried a lot of things! I'm 49 and hopefully near the menopause so I'm just bearing with it.

    However, the Mirena did help make my periods lighter, and I had no significant weight gain or other nasty side effects.

    The only way I can work with my PMS is remembering that it's part of a natural cycle and being gentle with myself around that time – this often means, for me, taking time off work and being alone. Now I've accepted this in my life instead of fighting it, it's become a lot easier.

    Great blog, thanks for writing it.

  2. I’ve been surfing on-line more than 3 hours lately, yet I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is pretty value enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content as you probably did, the net shall be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  3. Hi ladies, all I can say about the mirena coil is that it made my torso a spotty mess. No-one new what was causing acne on my body I was prescribed steroid cream antibiotics I even had blood tests. After six months of having blood spotting on my clothes i went to the nurse at work and apologised for the state of my skin why she examined a mole on my back she asked was I on my change I said no but I have the mirena coil fitted that will see me through the change. She then suggested that my skin could be the result of the coil as I probably don't need the small amount of hormone it produces. I booked in my doctors to have it removed on this basis he disagreed but I insisted I was desperate to try anything, he removed it and within a week my skin improved immensely a month later I am back to normal I feel calmer cleaner and my skin is no longer thinning due to steroid cream.

  4. I had the Mirena for about 1 1/2 years and it helped with my PMS (or more likely PMDD) immensely. I was emotionally calm and rational and more even keel than I have been since starting my period at the age of 11. I am now almost 42. I had the Mirena removed 5 months ago becauce of persistent spotting the entire 1 1/2 years. I am now experiencing extreme PMS problems again and finally today am getting my hormones and thyroid tested. It is severe enough that I have every one of the symptoms of PMDD including depression, anxiety, rage, crying on the spot, bloating, increased appetite, loss of interest in everything and unable to focus, low energy, you name it. This usually persists for up to 14 days before my period. I eat pretty clean and exercise regularly. I limit caffeine and alcohol and I don't smoke. None of this seems to help. My mood can change on a dime. I really hope to find relief for everyone soon. Thanks for the article.

    • Hi Michelle, your symptoms are exactly the same as mine. I have been suffering for years and have tried lots of different things. I am now seeing a Gynecologist, they wanted me to try the pill which I did reluctantly, as I am 43 and do not need it for contraception as my husband has had a vasectomy! I did try it for 2 months but my symptoms where worse, I am actually going back today to see what they suggest next. It's interesting that you are having your hormones and thyroid tested, I have had an under active thyroid for years and do wonder if there is any connection with PMS? I feel at my wits end with it at the moment, like you I try to have a healthy diet and have cut down on alcohol and caffeine etc, but still feel I have severe symptoms! Thanks, is helps to know what other people have tried.

  5. Thanks Kay. I will add hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and PMS to my list of topics to write about on PMS Warrior! You make some good points about the possible connection.

  6. Just had the Mirena coil fitted and wondering is it ok to take a chinese herbal remedy agnus cactus for PMT as well. I have a bottle here and am wondering if it is ok to take it? Just had Mirena fitted yesterday so taking it easy today had a D&C done as well.

  7. Hi Mary,

    That's a really good question – and one which I answered previously in the comments for my separate post about agnus castus (see http://www.pmswarrior.com/agnus-castus-does-it-wo

    However, here it is again:

    The short answer is No.

    In general I would counsel caution about combining any synthetic hormones with natural supplements which have an effect on hormone levels, except under the supervision of a practitioner, as these can lead to an unpredictable cocktail.

    The Mirena and agnus castus are definately not advised to be used together as they both effect progesterone levels.

    But if you had the Mirena fitted, it may well improve your PMS symptoms, as it has done for some of the women on this page. Why don't you give it a chance and see how you feel over the next few months. If your PMS persists, look at all the other diet and lifestyle changes here on PMS Warrior.

    Good idea to take it easy today after the doctor's yesterday!

  8. I’ve just found this blog whilst lying in my bed (again…) listening to my poor poor children (5,7,9) having to spend the day with me in an emotionally unapproachable state. I have tears down my cheeks and I feel so sad for them, but when they approach me, I feel so irritable and prickly I end up shouting, then feel an even more burning guilt.

    I have a kind GP who is starting by treating my PMDD by using cyclical doses of antidepressant (that I was already on), we are considering a mirena coil, but am worried about long term drugs of any kind. I’m going to check out more of this site about natural remedies. I hate this- I can’t be a Mum, a wife, I can’t run my business as I am in bed for about 4 days every month, I am feeling pretty hopeless about it. Why can men have such stable bodies? It’s not fair. I’m at least comforted to know I am not alone.

  9. Just a quick update… I’ve restocked my kitchen with the sorts of things advised on this site, and have made a start on eating my way out of the grips of this! I’ve always done exercise, so that side is fine, and I’m going to reduce my antidepressants to just the ovulation-to-menstruation phase, after chatting with my GP.

    Overall I am feeling a lot more positive, I think because I feel I can take a bit of control of things.

    Thank you so much for your support yesterday when I really needed it, and I will be following this site for some time to come!

    • PMS is a horrible, horrible thing! I've had the Mirena for about 3 months now, and things have gotten a little better each month. But the exhaustion is the worst part. If things don't improve more in the next few months, I'm going to consider a hysterectomy.

  10. I found this at 4am on my second night this week of lying awake feeling anxious and insecure, all part of worsening symptoms possibly due to the expiry of my Mirena coil. I discovered last week it was 1 month past it's 5 year life and only when the practise nurse asked if I had experienced any bleeding that I connected – I had had the worst PMS symptoms the previous month (and in fact have continued to bleed throughout the life of the coil). I'm now waiting for an appointment to discuss removal and replacement and this month have already had a bleed and anxiety symptoms, including poor sleep and terrible dreams, now I'm 5 days away from my start date and am feeling AWFUL. I began my search tonight wondering if anyone had experienced anything similar. I am in that terrible (and I think this will sound familiar to many people) where I feel tearful and desperately in need of love and reassurance but panicking about being misunderstood and people getting tired of me. I am in a new relationship with a very understanding man that I see a couple of times a week but can't help feeling that my behaviour is so intense I will kill it. Being unable to sleep gives my mind plenty of time to work over that as something I can visualise – despite being totally self-aware and knowing I am over-thinking, I CAN'T SWITCH IT OFF! I stocked up on a few supplements (Vitamin B and Flax seed oil) which may have helped last month – I breezed through that one – so I'm bitterly disappointed I'm back here again this month. I do drink coffee, about 4 cups a day, but very little alcohol, lots of fresh veg and seafood, hardly any snack foods or cakes, biscuits etc, and don't smoke. In addition I drink on average 1.5 litres of water a day and exercise 4 times a week, sport, yoga and pilates. Like other commentators the opportunity to write it down is a little healing in itself and I've been thinking perhaps a new Mirena is the answer but am also now disturbed about the idea of surpressing ovulation. I didn't realise this (how I didn't realise I don't know) but it obviously didn't work over the last 5 years considering I had ovulation symptoms and a regular monthly cycle. I really don't know what to do for the best…

    • I just read that and it sounds so much like me. I have had the worst week of being so insecure about everything. I’m getting the coil fitted next week.i hope it works. I’m glad I’m not a freak and that there are others like me who can’t stop over thinking. I’m so tired and worried…i just want to be normal.

  11. I know and recognise SO MUCH of your torment, both the extent to which thoughts and emotions become distorted, and the subsequent cogitation and over-analysis it causes. This site has really opened my eyes to how many women are lying on their beds at any given moment just feeling desperate. It’s heart-breaking. I won’t presume to offer advise – I’ll leave that to the experts – but I can say that what you are going through is shared by millions upon millions of women. I hope you feel better soon.

  12. I can relate to many woman on this page I have been on the marina coil for two years I have also been on anti depressant nothing seems to work I’m off work just now because I find it hard to deal with the mood swings arguing with people all the time can’t consentrate memory is poor sweats everything they say it’s the change of life im not on any medication just now as nothing works I have just bought Angus castus as Iv been told its good for ur mood now I’m not to sure what to do I suffered from pms from1991 to 2010 when my doctor told me I was on the change of life has anyone any ideas what can help I have never been off my work in 16 years now I feel I can’t cope

  13. Hi Lena, thanks for your comment and for sharing your experiences. Just a quick point, if you read my response to Mary above, and see my separate blogpost about agnus castus http://www.pmswarrior.com/agnus-castus-does-it-wo… you'll see that it is not advisable to take agnus castus with a mirena coil. This is because agnus castus has a progestogenic effect and the mirena also delivers progesterone.

  14. I read what u said to Mary that’s why I’m not sure what to try now I believe the coil helps with the flow of the monthly cycle but not the emotional side of pms ur web site is good it lets woman know they r not alone and that it effects women from all walks of live

  15. Thanks for the feedback.

    Your situation is obviously complex and you have been suffering a long time. Are you happy with your GP? They should be using the clinical guidelines produced by the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (RCOG) for PMS management. These were also updated by the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome (NAPS).

    Remember that you can ask for a second opinion, or request a referral to a hospital specialist. Or you can change your GP if you're not happy.

    Working closely with a good GP is really valuable in extreme cases, and as they are able to see your whole medical history, they can advise on any other related or underlying problems.

    Unfortunately, the NAPS online forum is currently down, but when it is back up again (soon, I'm told), it's a really good place to communicate with other women with PMS and PMDD.

    Good luck.

    • Thanks I changed doctors about a year ago Iv been on three kinds of anti depressant my doctor now thinks I should see a physiatrist as what would be best for me Someone has got to come up with something soon that can help thanks

  16. Hi all, I stumbled across this page whilst surfing for some knowledge on how to tackle my pms. I suffer each month around my ovulation with low low mood, depression, I become withdrawn one day and a fireball the next! It's really affecting my life and that of my family too. I'm lucky to have a vey supportive partner who understands the turmoil I feel each month. I've seen my gp a couple of times, the first I was prescribed Prozac but within a couple of weeks I had gained 3 lb…this doesn't seem a lot but I'm on a long term weight loss mission and so far I've lost 1 st 7 so I really don't want to stop losing, getting to my goal weight is very important to me. On my second appointment I've been prescribed the mini pill ( cerazette) as I have migraine with aura and can't tolerate the combined pill. I've since read that the mini pill is no help for pms so am totally confused! Does anyone have any thoughts? I feel I'm going insane and I just want to be the bright, well organised happy person I know I am but only see for about 1 week a month!

  17. Hi there,
    I came across your PMS Warrior site whilst desparately searching for ideas of how I might help myself…I am 25 years old and have been suffering with terrible PMS for years, extending 2 weeks before my period, in which time my IBS worsens and I become bloated, super tired, super weepy and very depressed. I also have a vulval skin condition called Lichen Sclerosus which worsens at this time, I think due to hormonal fluctuations. I understand the need for a healthy diet and wondered if going on the pill or some sort of hormonal PMS control might help lessen my symptoms, and wondered if you have any reason to believe this might help. I was interested to read about the use of the Mirena coil to combat PMS and am considering trying this.
    Many thanks,
    Francesca

  18. Hi Francesca,
    That sounds awful for you. Unfortunately, as I say, I can't give advice in individual cases – that wouldn't be right or fair – and your case is complicated by IBS and other hormonal issues.
    Can you talk to your GP? Don't put up with how things are, but try to get someone who has an interest in women's health / endocrinology. The coil is one option, so is the Pill, but you should really talk those through with a medical specialist. If your PMS is severe enough, you may get a referral to someone in the hospital as an outpatient (depends what part of the country you live, as to how long the wait is).
    Otherwise, self-help is definitely advised – eating well should help your IBS too. Exercise, sleep and stress reduction are also really important.
    More help is available from the National Association for PMS (NAPS) – http://www.pms.org.uk
    Lastly, I'd like to post your question and my answer on the site, for other women to read – don't worry, your email etc won't show. I'll just put it down as from Francesca – or Anon if you prefer.
    Best wishes, and good luck

  19. Hi Sue,
    The Mirena contains progesterone. HRT normally contains oestrogen and progestin (a synthetic progesterone).

  20. Ive just stumbled upon this site tonight and I am so glad I did! For the first time I don't feel alone in my experiences with Pms! For one week I'm my normal relaxed happy self and then it is the usual slippery slope in to very low moods, not wanting to socialise because I feel so insecure, bloated and tired I also seem to start arguments and fall out with people! The combination of the psychological and physiological symptoms just make me feel like I'm losing control and I'm going mad. I'm fine with my kids it's my poor loving husband who I just very quickly get irrated with! I finally picked up the courage whilst I could feel myself sliding into depression to make an appointment to see my GP. I saw her today and she was brilliant and suggested I try the mirena coil.reading some of the comments above gives me some positive thoughts about trying it…I just want to be 'me' again!

  21. hi i had the marina coil fitted today and omg well wat can i say i thought labour pain without any pain relief was bad but the pain from having it done was horrible i had 2 paracetamol aswell an hour befor i had it fitted ,i got bad cramps it made me feel sick & dizzy and ive still got cramps now the cramps are abit like period cramps but alot stronger im hoping my body doesnt reject it and the doctor said it takes between 3-6 months for it to take affect ive got mine in has the doctor at the hospital thinks ive got endometriosis anyway fingers crossed it works for me .

  22. I just wanted to say an enormous thanks for providing such a balanced and insightful blog. You helped me today to make an informed decision about what to do with my body – much more help from you than from any other source I'd come across. I've just had my second Mirena removed, and declined the offer of a third. I'm going to look after myself and see what I can do naturally, without synthetic hormones. (By the way removal did not hurt – the only ouch was when the ruddy speculum went in. It was all over and done with in less than a minute).

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