Are You Ready for a Birth Control Makeover?
- The ParaGard is made of copper. It's been around since 1984 and doesn't contain hormones but has been known to cause heavy periods, breakthrough bleeding and uncomfortable cramps. It can be left in the uterus for up to 10 years.
ParaGard failure rate: 0.6–0.8%
- The Mirena is made of plastic and contains a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel that is often used in birth control pills. It's estrogen free, and can be safely left in the uterus for up to five years. This type of IUD, which the FDA approved as a contraceptive in 2000 and as a treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding in 2009, is more commonly chosen by women.
Mirena failure rate: 0.2%
Who: Currently most popular with women with at least one child, it has started catching on with women without kids. The CDC acknowledges that while "well-conducted studies" show no increased risk to fertility, there is some conflict over the data—despite that, IUDs are CDC-approved for women with children as well as those without.
- It doesn't require another thought for at least half a decade.
- It's more reliable than birth control pills.
- There's no estrogen involved.
- When it's inserted correctly, women can't feel it—nor can their partners.
- It can be inserted as early as six weeks after a woman gives birth and is then safe for use during breastfeeding.
- It's reversible.
- The cost for the IUD and the insertion ranges from $500 to $1,000. While affordable when amortized over the life span of the device, it's a lot to pay up front. The cost barrier should disappear in 2013 when insurance plans will be required to cover FDA-approved contraception.
- The insertion doesn't tickle; Carusi describes it as a "visceral, internal pain" (usually less intense for women whose cervixes have been stretched by giving birth). One writer described it as "a spasm unlike any cramp...like something deep inside me being twisted up and wrung out." The procedure only lasts a few minutes, and Carusi said the pain goes away as soon as it's over, but some women experience lingering cramps for a few days.
- While IUDs alone haven't been proven to cause infertility, catching an STD like chlamydia or gonorrhea while using an IUD is extremely dangerous and can cause infections that result in infertility. Because of this risk, many single women opt to double-up protection with a condom.
- Researchers will admit that they don't know exactly why the insertion of this device in the uterus why it works so well as a contraceptive, even without hormones.
- IUDs have a scary history, and for some women, that history involved their moms and aunts.