Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Mirena and The Menopause - a twisted tale

You can laugh all the way down the feminine product aisle for five happy years a time until you get your letter. White. A5. Typed … Your name has appeared on our Mirena IUCD recall list.

You read it out to the H.

Who replies, ‘Don't you have two?’

You look at him like he's a complete twit. Because. Hello. Where have you been keeping that SECOND one? Only one uterus per person. That is the rules.

Unless your intrauterine device has mutated. Oh that’s what that intermittent throbbing pain behind your left ear all day has been. It’s a new born. Gynaecological sci-fi has taken place. You’re gonna be world famous in Southland again. The woman that spawned an IUD baby. Behind her ear. Magic.

You make to ring your practice nurse as advised. Only the new phone system at the med centre now only allows you to speak to the nurse on duty so you have to tell THEM your problem. When all you want to do is talk to SHARON.

All the while you are wondering - my time flies. And why have I had no warning that my supersonic Levonorgestrel releasing machine was powering down. No spotting, no mini cramps. No urges to maim or kill. The H.

I thought some more ... Am I post-menopausal? Have I CHANGED? Gone through to the other side. Has an oestrogen holocaust taken place without me even knowing? I do have regular night sweats ... I thought that was mostly due to my extra Fairydown Espresso blanket in duck egg blue and the 7 kilogram/3 foot cat who insists on spooning me nightly. I have been suffering bouts of quite profound anxiety of late. Oh yes and sleeplessness. But as soon as I take Vitamin B12 and Blackmores Herbal Sleep tabs I get some relief. My face does not flash or flush. Nor do I become drenched in sweat thrice daily. Or forget EVERYTHING.

Sharon calls back, ‘You can just leave it IN.’

‘Leave it? Hasn’t it run out of hormones? Won’t it do me harm? Left in situ?’

‘The Mirena manufacturers recommend removing them after five years. But we advise a lot of women to just leave them. Especially if you’re perimenopausal.’

The ovaries were in my court. I had no idea what to do.

Long silence ... ‘Is there a blood test I can do, to know where I’m at? You know peri, during, or post.


I book in. A needle prick was starting to seem so ... simple.

The day I go in a bearded guy is sat in the waiting room. He holds a bulky box of (obviously free) Durex in his hand and covers them with his blood test request when he senses me staring. I doubt his was a hormone screen. Randy young thing.

I waited over the weekend. Waited til Tuesday then left a long message on the nurse line. For SHARON.

A nurse (I'll call) Anne rang me back. Giggled quite loudly and announced, ‘You’re definitely POST-menopausal.’ 

As though I’d just won Powerball.

Not really funny cos it felt more like a big hairy slap in the face. Bam! I mean, hey thanks for letting me in on the action. Ya know. What am I to you down there? Chopped liver. You had-it old marbleised ovarian maze - how dare you shrivel up and leave without saying goodbye.

‘I’m only young. I’m 51. And a half.’

‘It’s happening to women younger and younger nowadays. I’m seeing more and more post-menopausal women in their forties.’

Crikey am I part of a female hormonal-exodus-pandemic. I know women in their forties still trying to have babies. What about them? It’s all those dairy cows in the MacKenzie country. All those poor four-legged docked ladies forced to produce bairns and milk year round in exchange for over fertilized, over irrigated verdant pasture and getting up in the dark ... It’s something in the water …

I needed solace. I turned to the Net. For pities sake. A woman MUST have blogged about this … this strange phenomenon of not knowing what’s really going on. INSIDE. I’m in tune with my body ...I practise yoga at least once a month. Results: nada.

Is it happening earlier because we’re having children later I pondered? I produced my three babies aged 34, 36 and 38 respectively. Clipped my ticket - one way to Pussy Pensionville. Please.

I resort to typing the dullest words I’ve ever written ... average age menopause nz and discovered I’m AVERAGE. Bang slap on the button - 51.6. God I’ve been average my whole life. Couldn’t I be above average. Just once.

That night The H and I drank champagne. Celebrated what exactly I’m not sure. Just sometimes WINE. I told my daughters. My sister. My mum whose reaction was a bit odd, like she’d forgotten I'm over twenty.

I checked my jowls in the mirror. I’m on to you I thought. I know why you’ve sagged. Perhaps Prematurely. I wished I’d chosen to have the brown spots on my jawline IPL’d at another time. Not four days prior. Having sloughing skin akin to thick fly poo on your face (which will not be disguised by any amount of makeup); along with half the sparse prairie of your right eyebrow missing due to zapping a spot there too, all the while grieving the end of your oestrogen making mechanisms DOES NOT HELP.

But hey, don't bother googling menopausal this or menopausal that or menopausal vagina, lady friends because I’ve pretty much researched the shit out of this topic for you. And you know how they say you should never read medical guff on the internet - well you shouldn't. It's grim. It will make you weep, weep some more and most likely write a list. Because you'll be needing lube and moisturizer. Massive tubs of the stuff apparently. Good god. Actually, good god, vagina! Yep, as soon as your toosh hears the words POST it’s gonna pretty much pack its trunk, catch a camel train and head on out on a Saharan safari … 

Just looky here and you’ll discover that once all the lovely oestrogen making vibes stop your fan wah might also suffer a thing. A thing which has its own medical term: Vulvovaginal atrophy. Even spellchecker laps it up. Shut the front door, and check out the pretty pink diagrams! Squeee. Snakes alive, not only does your foo foo take an outback sabbatical, if you abandon it completely according to the literature it’s goodbye Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe hello 3-door electric. 

Talking of vehicles, I had a farmer mate who fondly called his ute – The Uterus. A personalized plate now that could be cheering. Sadly every variance of uterus was taken, except UTERON. Just no. Us uteri have grammar standards even if travelling gynaecologist salesmen flogging oestrogen pessaries don’t.

My advice IUCD users, for what it’s worth is - keep that Mirena in, if advised to do so - you may go through to The Special Club … and be none the wiser.


For more facts and less emotion on Mirena this.

**(The average age of a first time mum in NZ: 30)
ps. I just pinched that pic from the Net. I have no idea who Louise is but, thanks a bunch.


  1. your funny button doesn't work :( even after repeated pressings. So instead I'll just tell you this is genius. Best post yet. And sorry for your loss :)

  2. OMG, Jane, I usually LOL at some point reading your posts, but I laughed the whole way through reading this one. Your satire is so keen at times it almost hurts. And guess what? I'm in the same boat - change-wise. I started having hot flushes at the beginning of the year, and same as you, I put it down to other things: the weather/bedding/planetary movements, etc!! The penny only dropped about a month ago. And I've been wondering whether to blog about it, too. You have given me courage. Because it is so great to read other people's experience when you're going through these things. Huzzah to you and your bold pen!!

    1. Thanks Yvette! Such a super fun topic isn't it! I'm glad I've given you the push you need to do some cathartic writing about it! ps. It took me a month or more to pluck up the courage to press publish on this post - the response and laughs received have been well worth it! And I never have to use my clouded phrase 'the M-word' ever again.

  3. Hey that's my story your telling! Love your work Jane. I could 'discuss' the topic of being a 'woman of a certain age' for at least a full bottle of wine. And probably laugh a lot too.

    1. Thanks Mary! Good to see you along. You are not the first woman to say 'that's my story'. 'The Mirena Mysteries' .... with wine ... dun dun dun.

  4. The funny button worked for me. :)


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