Elizabeth Carr-Ellis 50Sense Retroverted Uterus

Retroverted uterus: Or how a wonky womb put the kibosh on my Mirena coil

After almost 18 months of waiting, I finally had my coil fitting. There I was, legs in stirrups, a stranger sticking her fingers in my vagina, only to hear a sharp intake of breath – the sound the plumber gives before handing you a big bill – and the words: “You have a retroverted uterus.”

Well, obviously, my response was: “Oooooooooookay… A retroverted uterus, eh? Well, well, well. Fancy that.”

Pause.

“So what’s a retroverted uterus?”

How did I get here?

It was January 2020 that I first found a GP who sat and listened. Truly listened. And not only that, he understood as I explained all the problems I had with progesterone sensitivity. We came away with a plan for oestrogen gel and a Mirena coil and I was ecstatic.

Then Covid hit and everything went backwards, exacerbating all the troubles HRT shortages were having, too.

And then the HRT I did get made me bleed. Bleed a lot.

I was ready to give up HRT completely. I’ve been trying various forms for the last three years – God, that’s a scary thought – and while I thought I’d found an answer with oestrogen gel and Utrogestan, those dark days were starting to slip back in every month.

But I’d got the second Holy Grail: a phone appointment with a menopause specialist, who advised substituting the Utrogestan with a coil and a date was set to get it fitted.

What is a Mirena coil?

A Mirena coil is an intrauterine device (AKA IUD, which I always confuse with military jargon, so you can see why it’s usually called a coil. I mean, who thought to give a name that sounds like a landmine to a device that goes up your vagina? We have enough explosions in our bodies with hot flushes.)

Anyway, in 50Sense English, an IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic or copper gadget that’s put into your womb (AKA uterus – why can’t we have one word?) usually as a form of contraception. Around 0.2% of women using a Mirena coil will fall pregnant, so they’re pretty good.

An IUD – commonly known as a coil

It’s inserted past your cervix, which is the small passage that connects your womb and your vagina, and into your womb, where it usually sits happily for several years. The procedure takes a few minutes.

As well as being efficient contraceptives, when it comes to menopause, the Mirena coil can overcome the problems of progesterone sensitivity by giving you progesterone exactly where it’s needed. In tablet form, it has to be processed by parts of the body that usually have little to do with progesterone.

Mirena coil insertion problems

It’s typical, isn’t it? For years I’d never heard anything about the Mirena coil or IUDs beyond an occasional friend saying they used one. Suddenly, it was everywhere – and it wasn’t good.

It started with TV presenter Naga Munchetty, who said her coil fitting was “one of the most traumatic physical experiences” she’d had.

While Naga was speaking to make women aware of the need to speak out for pain relief if their IUD fitting hurt, social media wasn’t so mindful. I know, what a surprise… My Twitter feed was filled with horror stories, the most memorable being the woman who “was ripped to pieces”.

I was petrified.

You see, like me, Naga hasn’t had children and I’d already been warned the fitting could be “uncomfortable” because of this. In addition, I’d also been told, during a smear test in Madrid, that my cervix was wonky, which is why smears were often painful. (She had then thrown her hands up in dispair, proclaiming my imperfect body was making her job harder.)

What happened at my fitting?

Honest to God, I was shaking as I went to the hospital. Covid rules meant I had to go alone and as Mr 50S works in the local hospital, he wasn’t at home that morning to help calm me down.

I’d taken some paracetamol beforehand, but the tweets kept replaying in my mind and I know I was shaking as I was led into the room to meet my torturers…

Okay, to meet the lovely two nurses and the equally lovely gynaecologist, who thoroughly explained the procedure, told me they would use a local anaesthetic to numb my cervix and if I felt any discomfort at all, to say.

There was a bit of pain as the anaesthetic was inserted but then – nothing and one of the nurses was by my side chatting to me to take my mind off things. Compared to some smears I’ve had (and let’s not go into the polyp removal in Madrid), it was fine.

Until the gynae said she had to stop.

What is a retroverted uterus?

Your uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ which has one function: to grow a baby. Diagrams show it sitting straight up but for the majority of women, it tips forward, with the top tilted towards the stomach.

Retroverted-uterus-normal-womb
How the womb usually sits in the body

However, for one in four women, it tips backwards so instead of the top being by your belly, it’s by the rectum – the last part of the large intestine leading to your bum.

It can also be called a tipped uterus, retroflexed uterus and uterine retrodisplacement – or, as I have christened it, a wonky womb.

Symptoms of a retroverted uterus

A wonky womb isn’t thought to cause any problems, but other conditions, such as endometriosis, can have an impact.

However, women can suffer:

  • painful sex, especially when the woman is on top (yup), and
  • period pain (yup again).

But a retroverted uterus shouldn’t interfere with your fertility so if you’re trying for a baby, go for it – just be careful when you’re on top!

A retroverted uterus and the Mirena coil

Having a wonky womb doesn’t mean you’re unable to have a coil fitted, but my gynaecologist stopped because she said it would be too painful. Instead, I’d have to have it fitted under general anaesthetic.

I have to admit, this made me think twice. Did I really want to go through that? As I said, after three years, I’m exhausted.

But I chatted all this through with the gynae and explained how I felt on the progesterone and she agreed with the menopause specialist.

“You can’t go on feeling so bad each month.”

So a retroverted uterus means I’m on a new waiting list. I can still change my mind about having it fitted this way, but last week was another bad week so I’m still deciding.

What would you do? I’d love your advice in the comments…

13 thoughts on “Retroverted uterus: Or how a wonky womb put the kibosh on my Mirena coil”

  1. I’d go for it! I’ve suffered with extremely heavy periods for years, even ending up in A&E on one occasion. I had a coil fitted about 2 months ago and it’s been life changing – significantly reduced bleeding (almost nothing), and no noticeable side effects. I still need to consider HRT for other symptoms of menopause but it’s a (giant) step in the right direction. Good luck!

  2. Go for it! I had to have a coil removed and an ablation done under anaesthetic but it wasn’t so bad and if it solves the progesterone problem and means you can keep your HRT it’s worth it. I maybe going back to a coil but that’s another story. I’m sure it’ll work out for you in the end 🤗

  3. I’ve had several Mirena coils fitted over the years, pre and post baby, by my local GP. I also have an extroverted uterus. Each fitting was uncomfortable but I didn’t use any pain relief. It’s not that painful compared to labour, etc. If well fitted, you shouldn’t feel the coil at all and no pain soon after the fitting. The copper one tends the increase bleeding but the other one is great: zero or almost no bleeding after a few months. There’s also a mini coil option nowadays which may be more suitable for women who have not had children. Good luck!

  4. I’ve had issues with all forms of progesterone, I feel like I’ve tried them all. I’m very sensitive to progesterone. I did have a mirena coil fitted last year. By late afternoon I started having severe panic attacks. By next day I was phoning anyone I could think of, my GP (didn’t phone back), the GUM clinic (couldn’t see me), I phoned the gynae unit that inserted it, by this time I was sobbing. I was about to take it out myself. They said they’d get back to me. I’d just started to run a bath and find a long noses pair of pliers when they phoned back. I’m honestly not saying this to frighten you, just to be aware that panic can set in afterwards. Of course, you can have it removed so it is always worth trying. I’m now on a list for a hysterectomy due to unopposed oestrogen treatment and endometrial hyperplasia. I’m starting to question if HRT is worth it. I started off feeling fine on just the oestrogen patch (no progesterone) but recently I’ve been hit with severe depression. I’m questioning if it’s the oestrogen or the antidepressants that’s causing the depression. Sorry for sounding so negative. I’ve been searching online for answers and to check if HRT is the be all and end all that everyone (incl me in the beginning) makes it out to be x

  5. I have never regretted the choice to have mine. Actually my only regret is that i didnt get mine sooner! I had to have my smear & coil fitting under General Anaesthetic due to my wonky body, rheumatoid arthritis & fibromyalgia which give me high levels of pain. It is worth it, i just hope they will replace mine under GA 🤞 Good luck!

  6. Hi, I just had Mirena fitted 10days ago, and I have a retroverted uterus too. GP said it was no issue. Was given painkillers to take hour before procedure. Fleeting pain when the tenaculum was placed, and some cramping and light bleeding for first 2 days. Since then…nothing at all. I had heard the horror stories too, but the reality for me was ok.

  7. I had to be put under atheistic for a coil as the doctor couldn’t get it fitted otherwise!I’ve never looked back my heavy painful periods stopped in fact no periods at all!bliss and definitely no regrets! Best of luck

  8. I have a retroverted uterus… and a Mirena coil. The first fitting didn’t go well as the GP didn’t have a long enough speculum (apparently my cervix is very far back too) so said she couldn’t fit the coil. I lost confidence in her after that so saw a different GP who inserted the coil with local anaesthetic and zero fuss, it wasn’t painful at all. I would get a second opinion as I know my uterus is very ‘wonky’ too yet the fitting wasn’t a problem.

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