Many women around the world take some form of contraceptives as a precaution against unplanned pregnancies. Among these contraceptives are intrauterine devices (IUDs) which are inserted in the woman’s uterus for a prescribed period. While IUDs have been widely used, they can have the same side effects even after removal. This has been the long-told story of the Mirena IUD, a popular form of contraceptive manufactured by Bayer.
The Mirena IUD was one of the most popular brands of intrauterine devices in the world. The World Health Organization listed the contraceptive on its List of Essential Medicines as one of the most effective medicines required to meet the body’s most critical requirements. It is permitted for use in more than 120 jurisdictions worldwide with a user base of nearly 10 million women.
For a long time, the Mirena IUD was rumored to have severe effects on the woman. These rumors prompted a number of women to rush its removal in a frightened frenzy. Widespread cases of varied symptoms were reported to have afflicted those who removed the Mirena IUD. The ensuing circus of symptomatic women and doctors in denial led to the christening of the pandemonium as the Mirena Crash.
About Mirena IUD
The 1970s marked the advent of the use of intrauterine devices as contraceptives. At this point, the technology was medieval since copper was used to making the devices. Following Dr. Scommenga’s research, hormones were introduced in IUDs. Further advancements in Dr. Scommenga’s research created the maiden hormonal IUD known then as the Progestasert System which produced progesterone hormone. This IUD could only provide birth control for a year. Some years later, Dr. Luukkainen substituted progesterone for levonorgestrel, and thus the Mirena was born.
The Mirena IUD known today is a hormonal IUD used for long periods of birth control. The device can be used by women who have not yet reached the age of menopause. It is a small T-shaped device that can comfortably fit in a human’s palm.
Mirena is an intrauterine device inserted into the woman’s uterus to prevent sperm from fertilizing the ovum. Once implanted, the device secretes a hormone known as progesterone which causes the mucus in the cervix to thicken. The device also makes the uterine walls thin and to suppresses ovulation to a certain degree. It is the thick mucus that traps any sperm trying to make its way to the uterus, thus preventing pregnancy.
Mirena is popular among women because it can prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. It also eliminates the monotony of taking a pill every day and even so safer since women do not have to remember to protect themselves on a daily basis. One other advantage of the IUD is that it does not involve a partner. After removal of the IUD, fertility returns quickly. Moreover, the Mirena IUD is known to reduce bleeding during menstruation in the first two months of use and completely eliminate bleeding after prolonged use. Mayo Clinic also suggests that the device can reduce the occurrence of pelvic infection and endometrial cancer.
Owing to its numerous non-contraceptive advantages, the contraceptive was prescribed for women heavy flows during their periods, anemia, fibroids, and endometriosis. It was approved for use in the US by the FDA in the year 2000.
Risks Associated with Mirena IUD
Women who had the Mirena IUD implanted increasingly reported experiencing complications with the device. Often the device migrated from its original positions, causing a lot of discomfort and some instances of extreme pain. Once the device migrated, it wreaked havoc on internal organs by perforating some of them. If this happened, the device had to be removed through surgery.
In other instances, the device was expelled from the uterus into the vagina. It was then useless in protecting the host against pregnancy. Women with the IUD also faced a high risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which affects the uterus and fallopian tubes. Cases of ectopic pregnancy have also been reported. The IUD also caused benign ovarian cysts in some women.
A host of other symptoms are also exhibited in some women. These include;
- Neurological disorders
- Depression, and
- Mood swings
Aside from these symptoms, the Mirena IUD has been reported to cause birth injuries in children or fetuses. If pregnancy occurs when the device is still inside the mother’s body, it is likely to scar the child. It may also cause ectopic pregnancy which is pregnancy in any other part of the woman’s body other than the uterus.
Afraid of these symptoms manifesting, many women rushed to have the IUD removed before the 5-year prescription period abated. Most were shocked to learn that removing the IUD also had its adverse side effects. In 2009, the FDA warned the manufacturing company, Bayer, that it had given people misleading information concern the usability of the Mirena IUD. This admonishment was spurred by nearly 100,000 different injury reports that had been received by the FDA. All the complaints brought by the regulator were related to the use of the Mirena IUD.
What is the Mirena Crash?
The Mirena Crash is the set of symptoms prevalent in women who opted to remove the Mirena IUD before the lapse of 5 years. One survivor has termed the Mirena Crash as amplification and diversification of symptoms resulting from a hormonal crash.
Why does it Happen?
When implanted, the IUD secretes a hormone much like progesterone known as levonorgestrel. Since the device is prescribed to stay put for five years, the woman’s body stops producing progesterone. According to Healthline, this happens because the woman’s body becomes dependent on the IUD. When the IUD is removed suddenly, the body lags in the natural production of progesterone. This delay in the production of the hormone causes a hormonal imbalance in the body. The imbalance interferes with normal body functions are ignites a set of symptoms usually held at bay in the presence of progesterone.
How Long Does the Mirena Crash Last?
It is difficult to pinpoint how long the Mirena crash will last once the symptoms begin to show. Since it is brought about by a hormonal imbalance, it is reasonable to suggest that the symptoms will dissipate once a hormonal equilibrium is restored. In essence, it will depend on how long a woman’s body will take to restore hormonal balance. The Mirena Crash can last anywhere from a few days to several months.
Symptoms of the Mirena Crash
It is not uncommon to have varied symptoms after the removal of an intrauterine device. Symptoms are especially prevalent after the removal of hormonal IUDs. Among the most noted in women after the removal of the IUD are;
- Soreness of the breasts
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- A reduced sexual drive
- Runaway emotions
- Disinterest in many normal activities, and
Several of the symptoms consequent of the Mirena IUD removal are not life-threatening, but others have permanent effects on body functions. They range from biological, neurological and psychological side effects.
Perhaps the most concerning the symptoms above is depression. A survey conducted among the women who exhibited the symptoms revealed that those who experienced depression were more likely to attempt suicide or delve into substance abuse. It would have been wise if the maker of the device had pre-warned the users of the devices of the symptoms before selling it to them.
Denial of the Mirena Crash Symptoms
In the midst of the dilemma, the manufacturer, Bayer, has refused to acknowledge the existence of the so-called Mirena Crash. It adamantly insists that its product is safe and any adverse health issues reported by the women have nothing to do with the Mirena.
Doctors have also refused to acknowledge that the IUD has any side effects and any symptoms since the symptoms were varied amongst many women; they must have been caused by something else altogether. As if in the chorus, the medical professionals keep restating what the manufacturer Bayer says about the product.
Dr. Chachani, for instance, suggests that removing the IUD is unlikely to have such an exaggerated effect since the amount of progesterone absorbed by the body is low as to cause a hormonal balance when withdrawn.
Regardless, the panic ensuing has led to an avalanche of civil suits against Bayer. In a matter of time, what started as a rumor has virulently spread to become a national headline causing even more pandemonium. What is confusing is that in 2018 Bayer has paid out out-of-court-settlements in excess of $12 million yet they continue to deny the non-existence of the Mirena Crash. Other court cases are still pending in court today.
While it is unclear whether the Mirena Crash is real, there are women out there struggling with crippling depression and runaway emotions after the removal of the Mirena IUD. Some women have dismissed these symptoms as “normal” after the removal of an IUD. Others have merely stated that it is one of those internet shenanigans that will soon pass. The device continues to be widely used today because of the many advantages that it has.