Considering an IUD with Migraine

Hello everyone,

I’ve been dealing with episodic migraines for about 13 years now and am considering switching my birth control from a pill to an IUD but can’t find much research on the topic so am looking for perspectives from others!

A little background:

I was diagnosed with migraines when I was 21 and spent a few years experimenting to find a treatment path that worked for me. I tried Immitrex and Zomig and found temporary help with each but they eventually stopped working. My neurologist and I decided to change my birth control from Ortho Tri Cyclin to a more even distribution of hormone birth control (currently Junel). I also stack my pills to avoid the “week off” each month which also lessens the number of my migraines.

Since my original diagnosis my migraines have increased in number (going from 3-4/month to 6-7/month) so I have switched to propranolol as a daily option (80mg 2x a day) with Naratriptan as my abortive. I’ve also stopped drinking red wine and make sure to stay super hydrated (as those are triggers for me).

My migraines aren’t completely alleviated but I would say I’m in a pretty good place with my treatment plan. I still have episodic migraines but their frequency and severity has decreased substantially for the time being.

I’m considering switching from a pill to the IUD because of its long term benefits and my personal situation but I don’t want to upset the equilibrium I’ve found with my migraine treatment. My doctor is connecting with her colleagues but I was interested in gauging community experience as well.

Does anyone have experience with this? Have IUDs affected your migraines at all? Any research you’ve seen?

I really appreciate the help!

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Comments

View Comments (7)
  • lizzietishlizard5566
    2 years ago

    Hi. I’ve had migraines since I was 16 and they re classic w aura. My situation is made more complicated bc I have endometriosis which was diagnosed at age 19/20. I completely get the difficult balance between hormones and migraine headaches. My advice would be if you have good management of your headaches now and birth control you’re reasonably happy with, stick with jt. I’m on my second IUD after three laparoscopic surgeries and it’s a last resort. I’ve been through two rounds of Lupron –absolute migraine HELL and I’ve also done many years of BCPs and depo. The key to it is to find out two things: 1) how responsive are your headaches to hormones? 2) is it estrogen or progesterone that you’re reacting to (or the absence of)? I’m also a nurse. Best of luck!!!

  • lizb1091
    2 years ago

    I was diagnosed with migraines at 18 (now 26) and spent years trying to find a trigger until I switched to Depo Provera (for other health reasons) and noticed my migraines suddenly disappeared. Turns out I have estrogen triggered migraines. I switched to Mirena almost 2years ago after 4 years on Depo and couldn’t be happier. Its worth looking into whether or not you have estrogen triggered migraines in which case combination BC pills can make it worse. Obviously this isn’t true for everyone and IUDs are not suited for everyone, but I’ve had a great experience with mine and I recommend at least looking into it. Alternatively, you could try Depo or even progesterone-only pills before commiting to an IUD to see if the decrease in estrogen helps your migraines. Best of luck!

  • abipolarpenguin7227
    2 years ago

    I don’t want to scare you, but here’s my own experience…

    I was (finally) diagnosed with episodic migraine when I was 16 (fwiw, I’m 39 now). Several years ago, I was researching birth control options because I found that medications I was taking for other conditions significantly reduced the effectiveness of the birth control pills I was taking at the time. After doing the research and talking with my doctors (OB/General, neurologist, and a few of my other specialists), I decided to go with the Mirena IUD. Everything seemed ok with the first one I had, so I was perfectly fine with replacing it with another when the time came.

    Even after getting the second one, things seemed alright for awhile. IAt one point, I did have a concern that it might have been migrating, but it was determined to be a recurrence of endometriosis that was causing the pain. While I had the second Mirena, I also noticed a significant increase in the amount of ovarian cysts I was being treated for as well. But that now seems like nothing compared to what followed next.

    After about 2 years with the second Mirena, I noticed my migraines were starting to get worse, both in intensity and frequency. At first, I dismissed it as being a result of unstable weather patterns and some big lifestyle changes. Then, one morning while I was at work, I suddenly had a large blind spot in my vision. Usually, if I experience any loss of vision with a migraine, it’s a complete temporary loss of vision in one or both eyes, not a partial field loss like this.

    After visits to my neurologist and ophthalmologist (and a lumbar puncture, MRI, and several other tests), it was determined that I had idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH, also known as pseudotumor cerebri) and papilledema, and my migraines were now considered chronic.

    At that point, I kept the Mirena. About 6 months later, I saw a few things that gave me cause for concern. First, I saw an article about how Mirena may be linked to IIH. A few hours later, I saw one of those “Have you or a loved one suffered complications after using…” commercials calling out Mirena as, you guessed it, being linked to IIH. I was on the phone with the OB/GYN’s office the next morning to make an appointment to discuss getting it removed,and shortly thereafter, that’s exactly what happened.

    It’s been almost 5 years since the IIH and chronic migraine diagnosis. Finding treatment that works and is affordable has been difficult, especially since chronic migraine has contributed to my losing 2 jobs in that time, and I’m now in the process of filling for disability.

    Again, I’m not trying to scare you. Everyone is different because of their own pre-existing issues, so you may have no problem at all. The big thing is, do plenty of research so that you have a good idea of what could possibly happen.

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    2 years ago

    Hi there abipolarpenguin7227,
    Wow, thank you greatly for sharing your detailed experience with your IUD. You have certainly been down a VERY long & bumpy road. I am so sorry you have had to experience this and continue to endure such challenges. If you need any resources related to disability, feel free to take a look at some of the articles and stories that we have.

    Wishing you all the best and please always feel free to reach out for support.
    -Joanna (Migraine.com Team)

  • kellyco5
    2 years ago

    I have had three Mirena IUDs (on my third one) since my last child was born 15 years ago with a one year reprieve in there somewhere during divorce time. Menstrual Migraine and other migraine started 6 years ago and not due to the IUD, and are now chronic (long story). I still have menstrual migraine every month with the worse of the worst pain for 6-7 days. However, until recently due to perimenopause (approaching 50), I used to only have three day cycles of light bleeding and three days of migraine. I looked for links between Mirena and migraine years ago but didn’t find any so just stuck with it as I don’t think it contributes to my issues. Hope that helps. Good luck:)

  • migrainestl
    2 years ago

    I don’t have an IUD, but I just had Nexplanon implanted for the 3rd time. The 1st time I tried it was in 2008 & I suffered from episodic migraines which were definitely worse with my period. The nexplanon (known as implanon then) took away my migraines completely for about 18 months. Then I had it removed because my migraines started to get worse & I was spotting constantly. However, I never found another pill that managed them quite as well as the nexplanon had.

    The 2nd time I had it, I had recently given birth to my 2nd child & was hoping it would help with the migraines that were getting worse. It didn’t take away my migraines like it had the 1st time, but I stuck with it anyway. When I had it removed 2 years later to try & get pregnant again I realized that it must have been helping because my migraines went crazy after it was removed.

    Now I’m only 1 week into having it implanted. My migraines haven’t been great, but I’m hoping to re-evaluate the results in the next month in the hopes that my body is just adjusting to the hormone change & also dealing with being 9 weeks post partum.

    I hope this helps you in some way. Best wishes for more migraine freedays in your future!!

  • Susanmees author
    2 years ago

    Thanks migrainestl! This is helpful! I’m very interested in the IUD but am wary of throwing off the success I’ve had. It’s a fine line but I also don’t want to be held back by fear. I appreciate you taking the time to share!

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