The Lowdown on Mirena Coil, Menopause and Perimenopause

mirena coil menopause perimenopause
Is the Mirena Coil helpful with menopause and perimenopause symptoms? We explain how it can help some women manage in these midlife years.

During our weekly IG Live Midlife Health and Menopause Clinics with Dr Stephanie Goodwin (they are fortnightly on @mpowered_women), there are many questions about the Mirena coil, menopause and perimenopause.

A lot of confusion surrounds the use of the Mirena and its effect on the end of the menstrual cycle and on menopause and perimenopause symptoms. Some women believe that it controls the onset and the symptoms associated with menopause; this is untrue. Others think that Mirena masks the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause; it does, but only one of them. Let’s clear up a few facts. 

What is the Mirena?

The Mirena coil is a hormone-based intrauterine device (IUD) used to control heavy bleeding and for contraception. The IUD contains a progestin hormone that prevents pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix, stopping sperm from fertilising an egg. It also works in thinning the uterus lining, affecting menstrual bleeding.

A lot of confusion surrounds the use of the Mirena and its effect on the end of the menstrual cycle and on menopause and perimenopause symptoms.

The IUD is long-time contraception that can be used by women of all ages. GPs also prescribe the contraceptive for women with other conditions. These include severe cramping, painful periods, all endometriosis conditions, fibroids, anemia and adenomyosis.

Will the Mirena Coil help with menopause, and perimenopause symptoms?

Mirena Coil, menopause and perimenopause symptoms is a confusing topic for many women. We get asked about it a lot. The IUD will control heavy bleeding, but not any other perimenopause and menopause symptoms. A common symptom of these midlife years is irregular periods. Some women will experience light, shorter or longer, heavy periods for years before they reach the end of their menstrual cycle. Mirena will help to keep periods stable.

For some women, Mirena stops periods altogether. If you’re in the perimenopause years, this makes it hard to tell when your periods have stopped completely – and therefore when your menopause occurs. (Menopause is when you have not had a period for 12 months.)

Mirena will help to keep periods stable. For some women, Mirena will stop periods altogether.

Since Mirena does not contain oestrogen, it does not affect symptoms that arise with decreasing levels of the hormone. These include hot flashes, trouble sleeping and mood changes.

Additionally, the IUD can cause some symptoms to worsen. During this time of life your oestrogen levels will be low. Mirena produces progesterone causing the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone to become imbalanced. The effect is that it can contribute to menopausal symptoms such as joint pains, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability.

READ MORE: What is the difference between perimenopause and menopause?

Can the Mirena mask menopause symptoms?

The coil has the potential to mimic, mask and worsen menopausal symptoms. However, it mostly mimics symptoms of this phase. For instance, women with Mirena may experience side effects such as breast tenderness, mood swings, and headaches. These are also menopausal signs.

If you are using the Mirena for contraception, you should continue to use it until you can confirm with your GP that you have reached the end of your periods and can no longer become pregnant. Fertility begins to decline in women who are in their 40s, but it is still possible (although rare) to become pregnant in your 50s.  

If the Mirena has caused your periods to stop, your GP may take blood tests to establish whether the symptoms you have are menopausal. These tests will evaluate the hormone levels of the follicle-stimulating hormone. This is produced in the brain and signals the ovaries to make oestrogen. If your periods have stopped, your hormone level will tend to be high.

How long before menopause does perimenopause start?

Perimenopause is the transitional phase before menopause. Our medical expert Dr Stephanie Goodwin describes it as “the storm before the calm”. 

Perimenopause begins eight to 10 years before the end of your periods. During this phase, menstruation often becomes irregular and may involve more or less bleeding. Most women who are between 45 to 55 years of age have perimenopausal symptoms. The average age of perimenopause in the UK is 45. The average age of menopause is 51.

Perimenopause is the transitional phase before menopause. Our medical expert Dr Stephanie Goodwin describes it as “the storm before the calm”. 

Progesterone and oestrogen levels usually begin to fall when women reach their 40s, but menstruation continues for a while. Although menstruation continues, women can get pregnant, but the chances often reduce with time.

The end of your period usually begins when the last follicles in the ovaries have disappeared. Before the onset of the end of your periods, these follicles produce hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone. These two hormones build the lining of the uterus. When that is absent, menstruation stops.

Can you take HRT with the Mirena?

Yes, the Mirena can be used together with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The key difference between the two is that Mirena delivers progesterone into the womb to act as contraception, while HRT uses the hormone as a component of its hormone-balancing effects.

HRT is not a contraceptive, but it can alleviate some menopausal symptoms. HRT pills and patches ease symptoms of this phase including anxiety, night sweats, vaginal dryness and hot flashes. HRT also helps with bone density and heart health as you grow older.

As women age, the production of hormones like oestrogen and progesterone begins to decline. This contributes to menopausal symptoms. HRT helps to produce the hormones that the body can no longer generate. It balances your hormones.

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