- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
The Mirena IUD: Is It Safe?
You’re a modern woman with a modern outlook on sex. You’re positive your boyfriend/husband/sex partner doesn’t have any STD’s and you’re sick and tired of condoms. You want a spontaneous sex life, like your aunt Trixie had back in the 60’s. Well, so do I, girlfriend, so do I.
What I don’t want, is an unplanned pregnancy. And, since you’re obviously Googling IUD’s, I’ll just assume you’re in the same boat. Like me, you’ve probably been reading about the latest birth control methods science has to offer – and scratching your head over the multitude of conflicting reports on how each will affect you. The Mirena IUD is becoming quite popular, but is it safe? How often do people have problems with it?
If you skip to the comments below, you'll find a long list of personal reviews and opinions from women who have used the Mirena IUD. While it seems to work well for some women, others have been less fortunate. If you've got a story to add, please feel free to post it.
What is it and what does it do?
An IUD (IUS, for the Brits) is a small, plastic, T-shaped device that your OB/GYN inserts into your uterus. The old-fashioned IUD’s (sans hormones) are famous for nasty side-effects, but the Mirena is often touted as getting around most of these due to the Levonorgestrel. This IUD works by preventing sperm from reaching the egg and fertilizing it. It also thins the lining of the uterus, which is what leads to reduced bleeding over time.
Why’s this better than other methods like The Pill which also contain this hormone?
Well, for starters, it contains far less of the Levonorgestrel hormone than you find in The Pill. And, it sends it directly to the uterus lining, as opposed to filling your circulatory system with it. Much safer, for obvious reasons. It’s also praised by some women for it’s effect on the menstrual cycle – it reduces bleeding, and, in some cases, eliminates menstruation altogether for the duration of its placement. Let’s see The Pill do that.
How long can it be in there for?
Up to 5 years – you can take it out sooner if you want to.
Who can use it?
It’s important to read the Mirena site carefully – they actually say this is intended for women who’ve already had a child. Pharmaceutical companies do not say things like that without a very good reason and that's definitely something to take note of. They also mention women who’ve had cancer should avoid Mirena because of the hormones. Other than that, it seems like anyone with a uterus can use it.
How effective is it?
Bayer claims Mirena is 99.9% effective. That means 1 in 1000 women will still get knocked up. Believe it or not, you supposedly get the same efficacy from sterilization.
How much does it cost?
If you live in the UK, their National Health Service covers it. If you live in the US, you already know health insurance companies often suck and do anything they can to make you pay out of pocket. This is actually covered by some of them, however, cos having a baby costs them a whole lot more than an IUD. If your insurance does not cover it, it will cost you about $585. You can pay it all upfront, or you can put it pay monthly installments. Let’s hope they don’t mean Layaway… Ok, it all sounds cool thus far, right? Even with that price tag. Well, let’s get down to the real issues. The ones that have kept me from having this thing inserted.
Bayer alleges there are very few side effects, and that 9 in 10 women recommends the Mirena to their friends. I assume that means 9 in 10 women don’t have trouble after it’s in there. Bayer does mention the following are possible, however: Weight gain, acne, cramps, pain, dizziness, headaches, breast tenderness, mood changes.
Wow, kind of sounds like what many women go through once a month without using this thing.
Ok, maybe not. They say these effects are rare and, when experienced, tend to go away within a few days. So, fine. The problem I have, is all the women posting all over the internet with their horror stories about devastating acne, weigh gain up to 15 pounds despite healthy eating and exercise, and pain akin to being stabbed with a needle. Obviously, as with anything that changes the body drastically, there are going to be some people who don’t tolerate it well.
Bayer claims this has been used safely, and without incident, by 8 million women for the last 16 years.
I don’t know any of them personally, so I can’t do much more than ask those I know who’ve recently started using it.Truthfully, everyone I know currently using it doesn’t report problems. They say they haven’t experienced weight gain, acne or other distressful symptoms. I find this comforting, but for me the jury is still out on whether or not I want one of these things living inside of me.
The Mirena website is biased, obviously, but they do have loads of info posted and it will help you figure out whether or not you’re a candidate. Once you’ve determined that, scour the internet for real woman with real experience, and keep it in mind when making your decision. At this time, I’m not any more in favor of Mirena than anything else, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't be. Just be sure you do your research!