It can be difficult to understand what happens when you hit menopause whilst having the Mirena coil (IUD) in place. Some people think it encourages menopause, some think it delays it and others think it masks the symptoms altogether.
If you’re not sure what to expect during this time then look no further, because this post will answer all of the questions you could ever have on the Mirena coil menopause.
What is menopause?
So first things first, let’s explain this one. The menopause is when females periods stop forever and are no longer able to become pregnant naturally.
It is a natural part of ageing and normally happens between the ages of 45 and 55, but of course there can be exceptions to this and can occur earlier, which is known as premature menopause. In the UK, the average age for menopause is 51.
Does the Mirena coil have an effect on the start of the menopause?
Although the Mirena coil seems like it would affect your menopause schedule, it turns out this not true. Many people think that interfering with hormones or being on contraception that stops your period can have an effect on when you hit menopause.
However, even if you don’t ovulate, you steadily lose follicles (which produce eggs) as you get older and Mirena (or any other type of contraceptive) doesn’t have an effect on the time it takes to get menopause.
IUD’s can be used to treat some severe menopause symptoms
IUD’s are incredibly good for treating one menopause treatment in particular, heavy bleeding. Studies have shown that having a Mirena coil (IUD) inserted while menopause (or perimenopause, the period before menopause occurs) is happening can actually help treat severe bleeding, which can affect up to 25% of women in perimenopause. In some cases, your monthly flow can get so heavy that you soak through a pad or tampon every couple of hours.
56% of Lowdown users said the Mirena Coil stopped their period altogether, and 15% said it made them lighter. The Mirena IUD is now recommended treatment for females that bleed heavy before or during their menopause.
However this doesn’t come without its faults. The Mirena coil can cause their own side effects in menopausal women. The progestin levels can cause tender breasts, headaches, cramps or pelvic pain, as hormonal levels fluctuate.
The Mirena coil may mask other symptoms
Although it stops your period altogether, it means it can be hard to tell whether you have actually hit menopause or not. The Mirena coil can also cause a few symptoms that look a lot like menopause, including mood swings and irregular periods.
The Mirena coil shouldn’t affect other menopause symptoms. As your estrogen level naturally drops, you are likely to still experience hot flushes, sleepless nights and flushed skin. You may also experience tender breasts, headaches and cramps or pelvic pain.
HTR can help during menopause
Although the Mirena coil may lighten your bleeding or make it stop altogether, it doesn’t alleviate other symptoms. However Hormone Replacement Therapy (HTR) might.
HTR is available in pills, patches, and injections and can help females with menopause symptoms like:
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Hot flushes
- Weak bones
HTR comes in two forms:
- estrogen only therapy for women that have had a hysterectomy
- estrogen plus progesterone for women who have a uterus
It’s important to be wary of the side effects of HTR. It has been linked to increased risk of stokes, blood clots, and breast cancer. Which is why it is recommend to take the lowest dose for the shortest length of time.
HTR is not birth control
Although HTR contains estrogen and progesterone, it does not act as a form of birth control. If you’re not yet fully in menopause, you can still get pregnant whilst on HTR.
You may need a test to see if you’ve reached menopause
Typically you don’t normally need a test from the doctor to diagnose menopause, as once your period stops for 12 months it normally means you’re in it. However, since the IUD stops your periods, this means may not know.
Your doctor can do a blood test to check levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estrogen. FSH helps regulate your menstrual cycle and egg production.
During menopause, FSH levels rise, whilst estrogen levels drop and a blood test can reveal these changes. Your doctor may need to take a couple of tests over a period of time, as your FSH levels can rise and fall throughout your cycle. They’ll also consider other symptoms.
Mirena coil removal after menopause
Naturally your fertility slows down in your 40s, however it is still possible to get pregnant until you do hit menopause. So to be safe, leave your IUD in until you’re past the average age for menopause. It is best to leave it at least one year after your periods stop to remove the IUD, or switch to another birth control method that doesn’t affect your periods.
If you’re not sure whether the Mirena coil has made your periods stop, or whether you’ve reached the menopause, see your doctor and they will be able to confirm.
You can leave your IUD in until it expires
It’s perfectly safe to leave your IUD in until it expires, if you are not sure whether you’re in menopause.
A Mirena coil doesn’t kickstart menopause however it can have an effect on your periods which may be seen as symptoms. If you’re in your 40s and your periods start to lighten or stop, it’s worth checking in with your doctor.
Just remember that everyone experiences menopause differently, so a change to your periods isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.