An intrauterine device (IUD) is a good birth control option, if you are not planning on having children anytime soon. It can provide you with a little more spontaneity and, if left in place for the lifespan of the IUD, is extremely cost-effective. Two types of IUD are available–the hormone-releasing Mirena IUD and the copper ParaGard IUD. A few women experience some problems with this form of birth control but, luckily, most of those problems are minor.
Insertion of an IUD rarely causes severe problems, but most women will feel some discomfort when the birth control device is inserted. You may feel dizzy, crampy or have a backache and can expect some light spotting for a day or two. Should your doctor find that your uterus measures a depth of less than 6 centimeters (cm) and more than 10cm then, according to both ParaGard’s and Mirena’s product information, insertion is not recommended because it can significantly increase the risk of expulsion.
Both the Mirena and ParaGard IUDs can change your menstrual cycle, not always for the worse. The hormone levonorgestrel, which is released by the Mirena IUD, works to thicken the uterine lining, decreasing menstrual flow. With your Mirena IUD, you might experience irregular, lighter periods or even stop having periods. If you have chosen the ParaGard IUD, expect the first few periods after insertion to be heavier, longer and more painful. If this continues, contact your doctor as, according to Planned Parenthood, such heavy periods can lead to anemia.
Hormonal Side Effects
If you have a Mirena IUD, you may initially have some side effects from the hormone. Much like if you were taking the Pill, it is not unusual to have mood swings, tender breasts and headaches. These problems are likely to resolve as your body adjusts to the hormone–usually within the first three months of use.
Like any other birth control option, an IUD is not always 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. If you are among the less than 1 percent of women who get pregnant while using an IUD, you are at higher risk for an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy, miscarriage, infection or preterm labor. Therefore, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that if the strings of the IUD are visible, removal should be attempted as soon after conception as possible.
In rare cases, using an IUD as birth control can have some severe consequences. In less than 1 percent of insertions, the IUD will perforate or push through the uterine wall and the same percentage of women will get an infection of the uterus due to bacterial contamination during insertion. Additionally, up to 10 percent of women will expel the IUD within the first year of use. The risk of perforation and expulsion is higher if you have not had children yet or have your IUD put in soon after giving birth.
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