Beyond the Pill
The Latest in Birth Control Options
Intrauterine Devices (IUD)
There are currently two types of Intrauterine Devices (IUD) available today. Both types, Mirena® and ParaGard® T 380A, require a doctor’s visit where the T-shaped IUD is inserted into the uterus. The procedure takes just a few minutes and may cause some discomfort and menstrual-like cramps after insertion. Once the IUD is in place, it is completely comfortable so you can forget about your birth control method for anywhere from five to 10 years. At a 99 percent effectiveness rate, the IUD is easily reversible and can be removed by a simple visit to your gynecologist if you decide to get pregnant. IUDs are recommended for women who are in monogamous relationships and have had at least one child, but it can be used by others as well.
Mirena® releases progestin, and the following reactions occur in the body: the uterine lining thins, causing lighter or non-existent periods (not a harmful side-effect), cervical mucus thickens, immobilizing sperm, and it may prohibit eggs from releasing. These combined actions stop a pregnancy from occurring. Mirena® can be left in place for up to five years.
The copper-based IUD, ParaGard®, is ideal for women who want a reversible, non-hormonal birth control option. “The copper and the IUD work as a spermicide and thicken the cervical mucus, preventing the sperm from reaching and ultimately fertilizing the egg,” says Dr. Wilder.
ParaGard® can be left in place for up to 10 years, and since it does not contain hormones, it’s an ideal choice for women who suffer from headaches, weight gain, and other hormone-related symptoms. However, unlike Mirena®, which may stop a woman’s period, ParaGard® can cause heavier periods.
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