Mirena IUD Side Effects Ended Sex Life?

I’ve had a reasonably long email back and forth with a reader. The key points being:
They are both physically healthy and he works out.
He’s been doing the Alpha Beta thing and it all seems fine on the that front.
There was a prior sexual assault of some sort in her history before him. She says this is why she doesn’t want sex sometimes.
She gets wound up by stress. Money-job-her mom issues.
The sex was really good up until their son was born five years ago. Both frequent and exciting.
After the son was born she got a Mirena IUD.
They have only had sex 30 times in the last five years.
They had a night out drinking together recently and the sex was amazing.
Spock: “An ancestor of mine maintained that if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”
So we have a puzzle my friends, a puzzle.
It sounds like you are all good on the fitness and Alpha / Beta fronts. Just keep doing what you have been doing.
I think the prior sexual assault is just being used as an excuse – she’s clearly had an excellent sex life with you at some point, so if the assault didn’t matter then, why should it matter now? I don’t mean to stay that it wasn’t traumatic for her, just that it’s just being used as a red herring to justify why she isn’t having sex with you now. If she’s still having an issue with it, she needs to address that in counseling or something, rather than not ever have sex with you.
The money / school / mom issues, are all just general life stress. Stress may reduce sexual frequency, but it doesn’t stop it completely overnight for years on end. So we can discount stress as the primary cause of the issue. You can try a few drinks on the weekend to unwind, but a bodywork approach may be more helpful. She needs to make exercise a priority and you could also massage her. Basically get her out of her head and into her body more. She’d probably feel less stressed if she actually let herself get laid properly - but that’s all a chicken or the egg thing.
All that leaves are the two big changes that happened around the time your sex life ended which were, (1) the birth of your son and (2) going on the Mirena. Obviously we can’t trial the removal of your son to see if that has an effect (!), so I think you have to trial the removal of the Mirena.
Mirena is flagged as causing a loss of libido as “common” on a number of websites. eMedTV pg3 and Drugs.com. Plus hormonal birth control can change the type of man that she is attracted to through the alterations in her sense of smell for finding genetically matched partners.  So prior to the hormones, you = smell sexy… but on the hormones, you = smell unsexy. So her libido could in theory still be reasonably active, she’s just not turned on by you so much because of the hormonal birth control. There’s a 5% chance of lowered libido with Mirena as the FDA warning letter to Bayer states.
The Mirena lasts for five years anyway, so she’s about due to have it removed. You could try a copper IUD if she still likes an IUD as an option, though 30 instances of sex for one medical procedure is a bit of crappy cost/benefit outcome. You might almost be better off without hormonal birth control and trying condoms for six months and then see how things stand. (I am very much against vasectomy by the way, not a good option for you.)
Start with the Mirena as the key problem for now. It seems to fit the data and it’s the only thing you can test for. I’m not saying Mirena needs to be yanked from the market or anything like that, but if she’s in the 5% that get their libido turned off, obviously she’s got to get it out of her body. You have to be very firm with having that addressed, because if it is the cause of all this and she puts another one in…
…it’s five more years like the last.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Side effects like *that* are why I'm no longer on BCP!

    I'd rather be anemic for a week/month… it's better than being emo for two weeks and disinterested for three.

  2. gameforomegas says:

    Hormonal birth control can be bad news- the woman I lived with went from difficult to psycho on the pill- but I wouldn't dismiss the sexual assault quite so easily. These things stay with a person and return unpredictably over time.

  3. Athol Kay says:

    This was a reasonably long bad and forth and the husband felt the assault was just floated as an excuse as well. Even if it is the sexual assault, SHE needs to address that. Otherwise she's completely unreasonable to think that he would stay with her forever with sex only six times a year.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I had a copper IUD, and it was 1000x better for me than any of the other hormonal birth control options, for what it's worth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    *the above should be "than hormonal birth control options". The copper iud doesn't have hormones. Sorry, long day.

  6. Athol Kay says:

    Jennifer is perfect on her birth control pills, so we're sticking with them. If we had to make a change, I'd suggest Copper IUD.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If they're only having sex 6 times a year why does she even need an IUD?

    . . . unless she's cheating . . . ?

  8. Athol Kay says:

    She's not likely to have started cheating immediately after the IUD went in and consistently for five years. If the IUD nerfed her sex drive, she's probably not even masturbating let alone cheating.

    But I do agree, 6 times a year is not enough to justify medication. $6 of condoms would make more sense.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Athol, meet your match, a female version of you:

    http://theslutwife.wordpress.com/

  10. Badger says:

    Anon – L O L!

    Awesome subtitle: "My husband is happier than yours." Isn't that what it's all about for married people?

    I just read a thread at Boundless that discussed whether or not wives are Biblically commanded to not "let themselves go." The general consensus was that marital vows require men to love their wives no matter what and so guys should just deal with it.

    http://www.boundlessline.org/2011/03/letting-yourself-go.html

    I just can't believe how clueless the comments are – it's like they want to deny that having an active sex life makes your marriage a LOT better. The comments are all about control and minimalism, they're not required to keep themselves up (God doesn't even say so!) and so they won't. (Not to mention they can't distinguish between regular aging and taking poor care of yourself.)

    All these Christian women would never admit that they are all infected with this feminist madness that a woman should never be obligated to do anything for a man's benefit ever.

  11. LJ says:

    I can't comment on the sexual assault issue (then again, who could ever question it without sounding like a total douchebag?) but any women's issues forum is filled with testimonies to the effects that hormonal birth control can have on libido.

    I've found that to be the case with the combined pill (the difference of having sex at most once a week, being actually horny for it even less than that on the pill, to having sex at least 2-3 times a week, being horny a LOT more, actually instigating sex on occasion off the pill).

    I haven't been on the pill for a few years now and I'm never going back on it. My husband hasn't changed his game (always been a good alpha/ beta mix but I didn't consciously realise that til I started reading this blog – and boy do I feel grateful for what I have) but in addition to increased quantity, the quality has improved – I'm more into it in general and he sees that too, so the passion has amped up and we've both felt able to float new ideas. And the improved quality only serves to make me want it even more.

  12. Athol Kay says:

    Anon – she might be my female twin, but she's probably not my match. Lightning + Lightning = Unstable. Lightning + The Earth = Stable.

    I love my Jennifer :-)

    LJ – That'a the whole point of her even mentioning it. If the husband ever questions the effects the assault… HE'S A TOTAL DOUCHEBAG! So it's the perfect excuse to never have sex again with him as he's never going to be allowed to question it. But obviously she had a very exciting sex life before (toys, porn, making movies with him) and suddenly it stopped as soon as the Mirena was in.

    Nice observations about the pill though. Thanks!

  13. Irish Lass says:

    I was on the Nuvaring for almost five years, and it pretty much shut down the fun house, but all hell broke loose after my doctor took me off of it to give my body a break from the long-term chemistry project. (Apparently continual hormonal therapy can be good for gals like me who have hormonal-related migraines.) Now for the warning to the husband whose wife comes off long-term hormonal b.c.: You'd better have your Alpha A-game ready because at least for me, I was a raging volcano of sexual desire, and hubby was a) not paying attention to the changes in me, and b) not gaming me AT ALL. I went through the whole "he doesn't meet my needs/I need to leave this marriage" whinefest, until we got a) counseling and b) my body chemistry and my periods got back on track. This is just one woman's story, but I'm throwing it out there for consideration and awareness that lots of unexpected changes can occur when we make a change like this one.

  14. @ Badger says:

    Badger, I don't know how religious or spiritual you are, but all religions teach detachment, minimalism and not putting too much stock in material things. If a couple is properly doing a spiritual practice, detachment from sex will naturally arise in their being.

    I grew up in a religious community and saw this happen a lot. Many couples came close to living like monks and nuns – but together – and they were very happy.

  15. Athol Kay says:

    Ha! Jennifer and I look like a monk and a nun from the outside too.

    Scratch the surface….

    Trust me, I tried spiritual practice for a very long time… just not effective.

  16. Badger says:

    "Badger, I don't know how religious or spiritual you are, but all religions teach detachment, minimalism and not putting too much stock in material things. If a couple is properly doing a spiritual practice, detachment from sex will naturally arise in their being."

    By minimalism I didn't mean material sacrifice. I meant an attitude of low effort and the path of least resistance.

    Their attitude was "well GOD didn't tell me I have to be skinny for my husband so it's ungodly and shallow for him to expect me to be!" It had nothing to do with real spiritual practice, it was just an rationalized backup for their mistaken beliefs that they don't have to be attractive for their husbands. Of course the thread became an echo chamber of Christian women invested in a feminized definition of 'love' and a pedestalized "men base, women holy" mindset.

    Back on the topic (sorry AK), I've seen and heard of lots of funky twists to one's libido on HBC. I'm also curious about the effects of male exposure to this stuff through contact with the birth canal (especially with the ring), but I'm guessing it's very small. It really twisted my mind to read about the changes in male selection while on the pill, connected to the idea that a woman might find her husband a lot less attractive once she goes off the pill to try to have kids.

  17. Athol Kay says:

    It's amazingly serious Badger.

    Think about what could happen if she's on HBC when she meets her future husband. They marry. She goes off HBC to have children…

    …and she's horny as hell, loses interest in her husband and badly wants a baby.

    I'm not saying she will automatically cheat, but damn that's a bad set of factors.

  18. Badger says:

    AK, do you know anything about the sperm-blocking power of lambskin condoms? I have read they can keep out tadpoles but not viruses (so they're only good for monogamous couples), but I can't find any scientific numbers on their pregnancy rates. Barriers are a good-enough alternative to HBC/IUDs, but the feel is suboptimal and lamb vs latex does make a difference in sensation.

  19. Anonymous says:

    @Badger, those "lambskin condoms" are lamb intestinal linings, not skin. Just to be clear.

    I was on regular BCP until the first kid was born, and we used BCP again, or (latex) condoms until the last one was born and then DH had a vasectomy. It's been the best thing ever. I'm not messing with my body with hormones and I can't get pregnant — SEX! I was surprised at the negativity towards vasectomies, so here's a data point where it worked great.

    However my periods are so heavy it was suggested I try the Mirena. The risks of side effects are quite high, and the side effects pretty nasty.

    5 years?! I'm surprised they didn't figure this out in the first 6 months and get it taken out.

    It was work to be responsible to take a pill at the same time each day so my husband and I did not have an unplanned pregnancy, but I took on that responsibility and fulfilled it though 3 kids and for a span of 15+ years (nursing time == condoms). The vasectomy after the last kid seemed a fair way for him to share in that responsibility.

    Mac

  20. Anonymous says:

    I might posit something in addition to the hormones being the issue.

    Birth Trauma kicking up Sexual Assault issues.

    Birth trauma does not refer to physical injury to the mother or child during birth that might also be emotionally traumatizing, but rather what many women are identifying in hospital (and sometimes also midwifery care) births of a loss of power over the process. Women report rape (vaginal exams without hteir consent, as in, while LITERALLY saying NO), battery (a doctor "spanking" a woman for screaming during labor), and assault (threats of violence against women if they don't do what ever the doctor or nurse wants her to do). There is a lot of information about "Birth Rape" as many women are calling it — and for women with a prior sexual assualt experience, the birth can actually connect these two issues and bring them right to the fore.

    Of course, it is *absolutely right* that she needs to take care of it. IF it is part of the issue, and if the birth was traumatic (even though it looked normal in every way in the video or whatever), then she needs help with this. It's ok, she's not the only one — she can find support from other women who went through it, honestly, there are a lot of them (including blogs, facebook groups, and online forums).

    But, i agree that the first place where i would look is the chemicals.

    also, the unsexy smell thing is real — independent of hormones. my husband has a horrible, metallic smell. yes, he's getting it taken care of (finally discovered the wheat allergy and the zinc deficiency). but he still stinks to me. horrible, honestly, because he is totally sexy until he gets close to me, then he smells like a broken-down cyborg or something.

    i grin and bear it, because i like sex and love my stinky husband. but seriously, it's a big deal.

  21. Anonymous says:

    For what it's worth, I had a friend who had bad results with the Mirena. Her hair started thinning out, she was more tired/fatigued feeling, and generally stopped wanting sex.

    After 6 months of this, she had it taken out and felt like her old self again. She did some research, and found others who had bad side effects with Mirena too.

  22. Anna Beers says:

    Badger,

    I post over at Boundless regularly under the name Loris. What I thought I saw was people talking past each other. Women are afraid that if they go through a rough patch, they'll lose the attraction of their husbands. Men are afraid that once the ring is on, their wives will turn into warpigs. Nobody disagrees that both spouses should make the effort to keep themselves up for each other.

    I put myself out there pretty far trying to explain why I, and other women are so uptight about looks. I'll re-post some of it here. Adjust for Christianity, all of you-I didn't edit out the faith references.

    "My husband and I have looks parity. Sorry for bringing up the numbers, but I'd say we're both in the 7s. That would be fine, but he's extremely charismatic. Around women, he acts like he's a rock star. And they treat him like he is one. My natural tendency is to fade into the background. I'm quiet, and don't crave attention the way he does. The fact that he gets constant fawning attention from women makes me feel about an inch high. It makes me feel like I have to *look* like a supermodel to intimidate the women looking at him with hungry eyes. I can't do that. I can only be the best 7 I can be.

    This is a fight I cannot win. It's not even my fight. It's squarely my husband's. Because of the way he was raised, because of his own personality, and because of his weaknesses and sins, it's his problem. There's not a thing I can do about it. It has to be his job to tell the flocking harpies to back off. It's his quest to find his self-worth in the Lord, and not in the approval of other people.

    Yet, I cannot help but *feel* that keeping his attention is very much my problem. Like most of the other girls here, I've been told, directly or not, that I was causing men to stumble simply by existing. The flipside of that is the strong injunction to use those lust-inducing powers for the good of the marriage. It is utterly terrifying when you're doing everything right, and you're still not sure whether the wrong woman at the wrong time will plant a thought in your husband's head. And if you're not on top of your game physically, stylishly, emotionally, you worry that you're accidentally leaving the back door to his fortress unlocked. Which again, is a totally faithless response that gives a man no credit for his individual Christian walk. But I can't be the only one living with that kind of fear."

    Yes, I'm married to a natural Alpha. It's absolutely terrifying. I am the earth to his lightning, and because we're young, seems the lightning wants to strike everywhere….

  23. Athol Kay says:

    Anna – that's a deep comment and I want to respond to it more fully than I can at the moment. I'm in book mode so fully that I'm getting hazy on everything else.

    What I will say is this – being passive is the exact opposite of what he needs from you. Jennifer has been passive a couple times and it just let me go ahead further and further.

    It was such a relief when she started saying she'd go on the offensive if I ever did anything with someone else.

    By thinking you are powerless to influence him, you empower him to steamroller right over the top of you.

    And seeing you're stealing my lines… the lightning needs the earth more than you know. The challenge is to channel the lightning rather than it just being a useless discharge.

    Also, try facesitting. It's quite high stimulation.

  24. Anna Beers says:

    Athol, it's interesting that you'd say that about it being a relief that you got some pushback from Jennifer. We had a huge fight about it, and I got really angry at him, and then was baffled when he responded positively to my anger. It hasn't caused any changes, though. Like most Alphas, he seems to have the idea that if he's contrite in the moment, people will forgive and forget. Quickly.

    We've been having so much sex since that fight that nothing's getting done around the house-neither chores nor hobbies, lol.

  25. Athol Kay says:

    Just see him as seeking stimulation. It's the whole dopamine thing.

    Text him at 1030am tomorrow when he's at work that you want sex… then mess with him a bit.

  26. Badger says:

    Anna,

    I remember your comment from the thread, that's pretty heavy stuff. It's probably not much comfort but a lot of us beta-type guys know exactly how you feel as we've seen girls we're hot for (or we're dating) openly play to the attention of other guys.

    I hope you can understand that you are NOT the target of the Boundless discussion – your situation is not one where you might be faulted for "neglecting" a husband's reasonable sexual needs, or where you've abused the marital contract to entitle you to drop all effort. The debate is about women who think "he's stuck with me so I don't HAVE to keep myself up!" And by keep up we're talking about normal health and fitness, not plastic surgery and airbrushing.

    It's much more the opposite – if he's made the commitment to marry you but is going to bask in the attention of other women, then he's the one not respecting the sexual expectations of marriage.

    (Athol is right that a little bumpback might be called for – maybe it's a bit of a fitness test on his part.)

    What bothered me most about the article was the fact that the author was not up front about her own perspective. She revealed in the comments that she had major body image issues or an eating disorder (don't recall exactly what it was). Now that's not her fault, but it does mean that the support and expectations she needs are different from regular women. And because she has body image problems, any discussion that women take reasonable care of their appearance was built into a straw man in her mind that all men were demanding Playboy models or they were going to leave home and start cruising at local singles bars. And of course a lot of women took this as carte blanche to eschew self-maintenance, like the woman who said gaining fifty pounds over a decade was normal.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Anna – a few thoughts from someone who's btdt…

    1) Hold the line, but make specific requests rather than general ones. "Please don't give out your cell phone number" or "don't touch other women except in socially neutral ways" is much better than "stop flirting!".

    2) HOLD THE LINE. You don't want to be run over, trust me on this one. I've got the scars to prove it.

    3) All married alphas are automatically 10s. Marriage ups their status. My husband has never had fewer than 5 people he could bed at a phone call. This number *went up* after we got married.

    4) Try not to stress out too much – he loves you or he wouldn't be married to you!

    Hugs!

  28. Athol Kay says:

    Yes – you're adding to his sexy factor Anna. You're causing Preselection / social proof for him. Just don't shy away from him in public.

    Agree with Anon above.

    Engage with him, he's probably high stimulation.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I have a Mirena and really like it. I don't think it has lowered my libido and with it I don't menstruate or get PMT. All win, in my experience. (I had a copper and bled profusely. Based on my experience, I think it is possible to have a lowered libido, as I don't think I ovulate, and the FSH and LH hormones are fairly well involved in arousal levels.)

    Personally however, I think the 5 year sex drought is more to do with her head space after a second baby not being resolved, and her being able to 'get away with it'. I think she has wandered off into busy mommyland, and the success of a night out together probably just shows that she responded to a fun night and him taking an interest in her instead of ignorning her with all her 'stresses'. If she keeps going on about the abuse, maybe she just needs to deal with it now, and should be encouraged to do it actively, get over it and move on. It isn't fair to hold it over the marriage over a long period.

  30. Anna Beers says:

    Reporting back in:

    Yes, my husband needs to stop being such an attention whore, but I need to own his love for me and stop curling up and dying every time another woman makes eyes at him.

    I also took the comments about stimulation to heart. Our sex life is fine, so I'm working on making him see me as a fun person. I'm going with him to Mega-Con. I invited myself, after I heard he wanted to go with his brother and friend. This is the first time I've gone with him on one of his little jaunts. Previously, I've just sat at home resenting him for taking the only car and feeling free to please himself while I got stuck with all the responsibilities. I'm two years older than he is, and was raised with strict discipline. He's a coddled golden child, and I have to constantly fight to not mother him. I'm sure that dynamic could be guessed at by what I've written so far. We need each other, and balance nicely, but it's harrowing for me, and he tends to take me for granted.

    Well, we'll see how this goes. I've built into the trip some things that *I* want to do in Orlando and I'm not budging on those. I don't really care that much about Mega-Con, as I'm barely a gamer, and don't like comic books or anime, but I think it's important that my husband should have some fun memories that actually include me, and aren't anniversary trips. (We play Alliance on Venture Co, btw). Hubby is really psyched that I'm coming, and we put together two sets of matching costumes. I expect we'll have a blast.

  31. Athol Kay says:

    That sounds like a wonderful set of moves Anna. Let us know how it goes.

    Also… ah… it's it's possible… wear one of the costumes to bed. :-)

  32. Jane S says:

    Hi Athol,
    Apart from an anonymous above, nobody seems to be considering the idea that, following the birth of their son 5 years ago, this woman may just be strung out and exhausted. Becoming a mum may have caused her to lose her identity and positive body image. She may have experienced changes to her vagina following child birth that make sex just a bit less pleasurable or she may just be like many women out there who just view their vagina differently now because a baby has come out of it. Any of, or a combination of these things might be enough to just turn the lights out for her. I have a Mirena and for me, I am much more likely to have a healthy libido because I am not 'laid up' with a migraine and cramps in bed for 3 or 4 days a month. My libido at 40 truly astounds me; I used to think I was broken. Since getting a Mirena (and leaving my husband) I know that I am far from broken (bring it on!!!!)! Now that also throws in the other possible contributing factor that has not been discussed much; the husband. :o ))

  33. Athol Kay says:

    Jane S – that's all possible, but my reader was clear that he was helping out a great deal at home and the libido killing potential side effects of hormonal birth control are quite clear.

    So you may be right, but if I am right, he's got five more years of a sexless marriage to look forward to. So removing the Mirena should be tried. He's probably going to divorce her if the situation doesn't resolve.

  34. Jane says:

    Fair comment; divorce is definately more painful that Mirena removal <:o

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