When deciding on a birth control method, many women choose intra-uterine devices (IUDs) as they are known to be a reliable, low-maintenance birth control option. Once they are placed, they can last from 3-12 years, depending on the brand.
The three major brands of IUDs are similar in nature. They are all small, t-shaped devices that are placed into the uterus by a doctor.
IUDs are among the most reliable birth control method, as they are placed by a medical professional and they are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Furthermore, if a woman chooses to have children, the IUD can be removed and conception can happen rather quickly.
Although they are similar, there are differences between them. Your doctor or midwife can evaluate your history and your family planning needs and discuss with you the right IUD option for you.
Here are the three major brands we offer in our office.
Mirena® delivers a low dose of contraceptive hormones that are slow-released into the bloodstream. Once placed, Mirena® lasts for up to five years.
An added benefit of Mirena® is that a woman may experience decreased menstrual cramping, due to the consistent dose of hormones in the bloodstream.
Most women do not experience severe side effects and birth control is maintenance-free for the full five years, if she chooses to have it that long.
Skyla® lasts for up to three years and is smaller than Mirena®. The smaller size of Skyla® decreases the discomfort of insertion (although some discomfort is to be expected).
Additionally, Skyla® releases an even lower dose of contraceptive hormones into the bloodstream. The lower hormone levels can be beneficial to women who experience troublesome side effects with hormonal birth control. Additionally, Skyla® may reduce cramping due to the consistent hormone levels in the bloodstream, much like Mirena®.
Paragard® lasts up to 12 years. Paragard® is the completely non-hormonal IUD option, preventing pregnancy using copper instead of hormones. While it is the largest IUD option, the applicator tube is only slightly larger than that of Skyla® and smaller than that of Mirena®.
Paragard® can be an option for women who experience severe side effects with hormonal birth control. However, it is important to discuss potential side effects of the copper with your doctor. (For example, some women report heavier bleeding during menstrual periods.)
With so many contraceptive options, within IUDs and otherwise, you and your doctor or midwife can certainly find one that best suits your family planning needs and lifestyle.
To ensure effective family planning, be sure to go over your birth control method at your annual exam. Or you can give us a call to schedule an appointment just for this purpose.