I've debated a lot about whether or not to post this, because, well, it's icky. So there are going to be multiple disclaimers. Here's the first one:
This post is icky. Don't read it if you are easily grossed out.
I'll warn you again before I get to the really icky parts. The thing is, I made a couple of important discoveries that NEED to be shared (you'll see why), so I'm going to post it. With lots of disclaiming.
I do not want to get comments about how gross I am, because seriously, if you can see yourself commenting something like that, don't read this post.
Ok, so I had a Mirena IUD for two years. I'd link to Mirena's website at this point, but it's been down for maintenance for a while. What's the point?
While the Mirena was in place, I loved it. I found the insertion to be completely painless (perhaps because my cervix had just been dilated to 10 cm 6 weeks before the insertion, so what's a little stretch the size of like a hairpin, at that point, really? I'll tell you - it's nothing). I did not get periods. I spotted a little here and there, particularly when I weaned Claire. We (icky part here, don't read it) had a little trouble with the strings, if you know what I mean, initially, but they literally soften up over time, and after a short while neither of us had any trouble with them again.
I loved not having to think about it. I loved that the hormone, while present, is an extremely small and localized dose. I loved not getting periods. I loved not getting pregnant. Love love love. I was all over other peoples' blogs' comments singing its praises to the skies.
So, then we decided to think about another baby, and figured I'd get it removed and we'd use other methods (like business travel) until we decide that we're really ready for another baby. Cause every time we'd say, "Ok, let's go for it," the kids would have a REALLY bad day before I could even make the appointment, and I figured if I had to have a run of good days between the conversation, making the appointment, keeping the appointment, and not chickening out - it would never happen. Besides, I was due for a check up.
I got it removed on 4/16. The removal didn't hurt at all. I'd read horror stories that insertion and removal hurt other people really badly, so I was feeling very smug and lucky... Until Sunday.
All right, if you've read up to this point, and you're easily grossed out or offended or you don't want to know way too much about my very angry uterus, this is your last chance to turn back. This is where things take a turn for the seriously yucky. I am not even kidding. It's only going to go downhill from here. You have been warned.
I mean it.
I really mean it. I am going to make fun of you and call you names if you post comments saying things like "EEEEEW!" after this, because you have been more than sufficiently warned.
Ok. So Thursday, Friday, Saturday, I was fine. Then I started to bleed on Sunday. Profusely. If you have ever had a kid (and really, the only people who should still be reading at this point should be people with a vested interest in IUDs - maybe you're deciding whether or not to get one, maybe you're deciding whether to have yours taken out... Maybe you just want to know what to expect, but the "OMG THE MIRENA TRIED TO KILL ME!!!" forums are pissing you off, and you want someone a little... calmer... to tell you what to expect. Otherwise, why are you still reading, seriously?) you probably remember how much you bled after childbirth. A lot, right? Like, worst period ever? Maybe even clots?
This was worse than that. I am not kidding or exaggerating or forgetting (Claire is only two, and both of their births feel like yesterday). There was a great deal of blood and clots. Big clots. Golf ball sized.
Hey, I warned you that this was gross.
So, I called the on-call doctor on Monday night, after about 48 hours of feeling like I was bleeding to death, and she told me to watch for signs of infection (foul smell, fever over 100.4, tenderness just above my pubic bone, etc.) and to call back if I saturated a pad in an hour. She recommended I take ibuprofen.
What. Ever. Ibuprofen? Seriously? That doesn't have any anti-bleeding properties that I'm aware of.
I figured, "Ok, surely they wouldn't just let me bleed out..." and got online. I read all the scary forums (I refuse to link - google Mirena and OMG and you'll find them). I got on Mirena's (not functioning) website and tried to find out what is expected when you have it removed.
I read both the patient info and the prescriber info sheets - figuring that it had been 2 years, maybe I had forgotten something I'd read back then.
So, I start doing science. I read about clots (because really, that was the scariest part). I read that clots are formed when you're bleeding too fast for your body's natural anticoagulants (natural things that prevent clots) to keep up. Ok, so what are some natural anticoagulants? I googled. Vitamin E. I can do that.
I took Vitamin E, and an iron supplement because I was feeling a little woozy.
That made it worse.
I ended that little experiment after about 12 hours, and called my regular doctor's office. I was told to watch for signs of infection, again. I was told that if I soak a pad in an hour that's "too much." I was not told what would happen if I met that little milestone. After I got a little pushier, the triage nurse set me up for a CBC test at the nearby lab.
It came back normal (12.6 - apparently a CBC measures how much blood is in your blood). However, on Sunday night I was so weak that I literally could not get out of the chair to check my e-mail. When Amy can't get online, you know there's a real issue.
The next morning I called the doctor's office again, got the runaround again. I was told to take ibuprofen again. By this point, I was more than a little pissed. I decided to call Bayer Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the Mirena, to see if they could shed any light - or at least say, "Yep, golf balls? Totally normal."
I finally got through the voicemaze to a person, and when I explained what I wanted to know, she said, "We really haven't studied that at all, that's why it's not in the patient info."
"WHAT? Don't you think that's a little negligent???" I said.
"Well, if you'll give me your name and the name of your doctor, I'll give it to our research department for follow up."
I sputtered, gave her what she wanted, and hung up.
"Ok, I thought, I'm smarter than this... I just need to think."
So, I started thinking again, and I thought about birth and how they stop bleeding afterwards with Pitocin. Well, I didn't think I could talk anyone into giving me a shot of it just for the sake of science. I needed something that acts LIKE pitocin, something that causes contractions...
Then I remembered that when I was pregnant, and particularly when I was trying to go into labor on my own to avoid being induced, I took Red Raspberry Leaf Tea, in huge quantities, and that when I took it I could feel the Braxton Hicks contractions kick up a notch or two.
After labor, they want your uterus to continue to contract (squeeze) down to a more average size, right? To stop the bleeding? Right?
So, I went to the grocery store (they carry it at Kroger!!) because the Health Food Store was already closed, last night, and I got myself some Red Raspberry Leaf tea. And girls, I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that it helped immediately.
I have had no clots today.
It only took two cups. I drank a third this afternoon, just to be sure.
I am still bleeding, but it's a much more manageable, average amount, and the clots are gone.
That's why I'm telling you all this. Because you may be bleeding heavily too, whether it's with your period or whether you just had an IUD removed. You may have been patted on the head and told "take an ibuprofen," by your triage nurse, too. Maybe you have endometriosis. Maybe you're pregnant and you want to tone your uterus. I don't know, but I know one thing. In my small, unscientific study of one - Red Raspberry Leaf tea HELPED. Between it and the iron supplements, I'm feeling like myself again. There's a chance, of course, that I would've felt better today anyway - after all, I was bleeding heavily for 8, nearly 9 days, but I doubt it. While I couldn't feel my uterus doing anything - contracting, cramping, etc. - it was too immediate a change to not have been the tea.
I promise that if I have another wonky period next month, I'll post further results. Also, I'm going to quit drinking the tea and see if the scary bleeding and clots come back. If that happens, and the tea works again, I think we'll have ourselves a solid theory.
So, thanks for all the comments and emails. Your concern for me was honestly touching. I hope that putting this information out there helps someone else who may be going through the same thing.
And Bayer Pharma, if you're reading this, GET ON THE BALL and DO YOUR FRIGGING HOMEWORK, already.
Edited to add: A couple of you have asked me for more details about the tea - It's Traditional Medicinals Raspberry Leaf Tea. Click through for more details and to order online (although as I said, it's available in the Health Food section of my Kroger).