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I have questions about IUD's

By Anonymous July 1, 2009 - 11:02am
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I'm in my 40's, perimenopausal, and have been on a birth control pill called Yaz for several years to control my heavy periods. I'd like to get off the pill because I'm scared of the side effects (ie: blood clots, etc.) and use an alternative birth control method (I don't want any more babies!) that also provides me with hormones since I'm perimenopausal. I've heard about the IUD and that there is an IUD that provides hormones. I'm wondering if it has the same health risks (potential side effects) as the pill.

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EmpowHER Guest

Thank you so much!!

July 1, 2009 - 1:58pm
HERWriter Guide

Please do check them out!

I know what you mean about the blood clot issue. I stopped taking the Pill at around age 30 as it made me nervous (especially as I was a smoker!). There are so many things to think about with birth control, especially when you are all done having babies because like you, that's not something I want anymore either!

One other thing to think about, hormones aside, is for your partner to get a vasectomy. Then you can concentrate on the hormone issue and not have to worry about birthin' them babies! It might simplify things for you.

Either way, please give us an update when you find what works for you. We'd love to hear about it and I know it'll help other women who may be facing the same issue.

July 1, 2009 - 1:51pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you so much for the ideas. I'll definitely check out the other brands. I've had great luck with the pill, I just get scared about the blood clot risk and other potential side effects if I continue staying on it for several more years till I go through menopause. That's the only reason I was thinking about checking into other options. I'm guessing the IUD with hormones will have the same side effects as the pill.

July 1, 2009 - 1:33pm
HERWriter Guide

No, Anon, not at all.
There are other IUDs out there. The only reason I gave you that info on Mirena is that it was such a hot topic here and I felt you should at least read it. I think that other womens experiences, while all unique, are still as good reference point for someone thinking about doing something they did. Many women have had good experiences with Mirena!

You can also look into the Paragard brand (it contains copper). Their website is here : http://www.paragard.com/

You can also look into the Nuvaring. All the information is here: www.nuvaring.com

And remember, what works for some women, doesn't for others. I was on the Pill for several years with no side effects, but other women don't do well with them at all. For many of us, birth control is a trial and error process (unfortunately) and you will also have to look into the hormonal side of things, since you are looking for this option too.

I hope this makes you feel better!

July 1, 2009 - 1:19pm
EmpowHER Guest

Well, the IUD sounded like a good idea until I visited the links you suggested on this site about the Mirena IUD. Scary!! Now, after reading the women's stories, I'm too scared to consider it as an option.... Is the Mirena the only IUD on the market?

July 1, 2009 - 1:04pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thanks for your question! Our Encyclopedia has lots of information for you regarding the IUD. Here's an excerpt for you :

"It's easy to forget a pill every day and it's time-consuming to use something every time you have sex," says Christina Brooks, a 36-year-old married mother of three children. "I just wish there were more birth control options for women."

Like many married women in their 30s and 40s, Christina wonders if there is an easier alternative besides a daily pill or surgery to remove her uterus. A relatively recent design of an old birth control method may help her.

Remember the IUD?

"The IUD (intrauterine device) has been around a long time," says Diana Cheng, MD, a gynecologist with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, "but it's a very underutilized method... It's effective for ten years [and it's] so simple."

What Is an IUD?

The modern IUD is a very small T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted into a woman's uterus by a doctor. It is about as thin as a toothpick and as long as a small paper clip. Two short pieces of specialized thread hang from its end through the cervix so the doctor can easily remove it when no longer needed. The most common IUD available now has a thin copper wire wound around it that helps to disable sperm. The IUD prevents pregnancy just as well as birth control pills or getting your tubes tied.

How Does It Work?

Many women have avoided using the IUD because they thought it prevented implantation of a healthy fertilized egg. In contrast, studies over the last twenty years show that the IUD works mainly by preventing fertilization between the sperm and the egg. The IUD causes mild inflammation in the lining of the uterus, which disables incoming sperm.

"Healthy sperm never get up into the tubes," says Kristin Dardano, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. "So they never actually meet an egg and fertilize."

A Newer Type of IUD

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a newer IUD in December 2000. This IUD contains a small amount of the hormone progesterone, which adds to the IUD's effectiveness by decreasing menstrual bleeding. This IUD should also reduce cramping and discomfort in women who have heavy periods.

Because the IUD lasts between five and ten years, it is also extremely cost-effective. The greatest cost is having it put in initially, but after that there are no other expenses.

What About the Risk of Infection?

Although used by over 100 million women worldwide, many women and doctors in the United States shied away from the IUD after a particular type of IUD, the Dalkon Shield, caused a severe infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in some women. The Dalkon Shield, which was taken off the market in 1983, had removal threads that were made up of many tiny strands twisted together. Bacteria could easily climb up these many strands and cause infection. All the IUDs now on the market have threads made of only one strand of material. This has significantly decreased the chance of infection from using an IUD. It is now considered safe.

Using an IUD

"It is a fabulous option," says gynecologist Judi Hersh, MD, of Bridgewater, New Jersey. "It really is one of the best methods to choose in a woman who has completed her childbearing, is in a monogamous relationship, [and] is looking for a method that's pretty permanent, but for whatever reason chooses not to proceed with sterilization for herself or her partner."

Dr. Hersh says there may be some mild cramping at the time of insertion. After the insertion, all a woman has to do is check that she can feel the threads at the end of the cervix once a month after each menstrual cycle. Rarely, the IUD might come out with menstrual blood or float higher into the uterus, so checking the strings makes sure it is still in the right place.

Side effects with the copper IUD can include increased cramping and bleeding but the new progesterone-releasing IUD actually eliminates that side-effect.

"A good candidate is someone who doesn't want to be thinking about contraception every day," adds Dr. Cheng. "Women who use it are very, very happy with it.

Anon, we have also had much chat here in our Community regarding the Mirena IUD: you can find the links here. These are the experiences of some of our readers that are good to know, but they should not be used as medical advice -


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July 1, 2009 - 12:28pm
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