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The ABCs of IUDs

By HERWriter
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When a friend first told me she used an IUD (intrauterine devices), I was suprised. To me, the letters were scary. They indicate middle-aged women with children, medical procedures and news headlines linking IUDs and infertility. But my friend boasted about her IUD, so I decided to do some research.

After my mother’s generation witnessed scandals related to a dangerous earlier version of IUD called the Dalkan Shield in the 1970s, they were reluctant to use the method of birth control. As a result, women my age have also avoided IUDs, despite the fact that their level of effectiveness is higher than the pill or the ring, and they have now been used safely for over two decades. Once inserted, IUDs can last for five to10 years, making them more cost-effective than methods that require monthly purchases. Most interestingly to me after my messy break-up with Nuvaring, IUDs are one of the only highly-successful, non-hormonal contraceptive options available. After chatting with my friend, I thought my quest for a birth control that didn’t screw with natural reproductive cycles was finally over! But even IUDs provide no simple answer.

There are currently two forms of IUD on the market; a non-hormonal device called Paragard made of copper (a substance causing the body to create an environment toxic to sperm), and a newer plastic insert called Mirena that secretes progestin. Both T-shaped devices prevent sperm and egg from meeting, acting as a barrier to fertilization in addition to changing the composition of the uterine lining and preventing implantation. Both are 99.4 percent effective, completely reversible, and allow natural ovulation. Both require a health care provider to insert the product, a minor medical procedure that nonetheless carries risks of infection, uterine perforation, or expulsion. Neither product protects against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

The Mirena IUD is more widely recommended, specifically because it’s the only birth control clinically shown to reduce menstrual bleeding.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I totally agree with the second anonymous comment!!

April 9, 2010 - 10:00pm

For anyone considering and IUD, you may want to check out the livejournal group iud_divas. Lots of helpful information and user experiences there. Plenty of discussion about why people chose one IUD over another.

April 9, 2010 - 4:32pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm a guy dating a beautiful, intelligent young woman who is considering getting an IUD but can't decide between copper or Mirena. To any female empowher readers reading this article experienced with either, can you share any wisdom or experiences that might help her pick between the two?

April 7, 2010 - 3:48pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to Anonymous)

Anon - This thread has quite a few member comments about Mirena. Pat

April 9, 2010 - 6:21pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

how refreshing to see guys who are interested in birth control - way to be an empowher-ed man. some lucky girl!

April 7, 2010 - 6:18pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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