Are you considering updating your birth control method? If you have even once thought about the intrauterine device (IUD) but don’t have all the facts, look no further. We're here to help you with honest feedback about having an IUD. Two BUSTies have IUDs – I have the Mirena, and Kelly has the Paragard. We will be covering each in sordid detail to help you make the right choice.
The Mirena brand is a soft, flexible plastic device (kinda shaped like a crucifix!) that releases a small amount of progestin directly into your uterus to help prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years. It is 99% effective.
Work it, Girl:
While it’s a little shady that doctors’ claim not to know “exactly” how it works, here basically, through releasing a small amount of hormone, the Mirena:
- Thickens the cervical mucus to keep pesky sperm out!
- If they do get in, the IUD inhibits them from reaching and fertilizing the egg
- Thins the lining of the uterus so that even if somehow that egg and sperm find each other, there’s no where to latch on and grow into a baby. Yay!
- Additional theories suggest the hormones may stop the release of egg from your ovary altogether.
Why I Chose Mirena:
While they market this particular IUD to moms, I think that’s more about distinguishing it from the Paragard. I’ve never given birth, I’m single and sexually active. I’ve coupled condoms with other birth control methods since I was 17, and was on the pill until two years ago when I determined that my epilepsy was affected by the brand I was on (Ortho Tri-cyclen Lo). I talked to my gyno candidly about the two versions of IUD, and chose Mirena because I felt more comfortable with the idea of plastic rather than the copper up in my hoo-ha.
The cost is also super low considering the other options out there. My health insurance covered my doctor visits, so I paid about $200 for the device itself out of pocket. All and all, it totalled around $400. Pretty great for 5 years of carefree sex! (Ahem, with condoms).
Full disclosure - I have been treated for HPV, so I was familiar with my gyno being up in my junk and clipping, swiping, and adding “pressure” to my cervix. Umm, yeah. So for me, Insertion was easy. Though I was warned that my period would be a little weird, I was not prepared for the first one - my first one after insertion lasted 18 days! It was not heavy that whole time, but I was still totally freaked out. My doctor assured me that I was not bleeding to death, and since then I barely have a period at all. When I do, it’s pretty clumpy, and dark brown rather than bright red, which is a little gross.
Sex & the IUD:
It is a total myth that a man can “feel it” while he’s inside you. It’s WAY up there. Just like flossing regularly, or doing a self breast exam, I have definitely gone fishing for the strings to make sure it was in the right place and what-not, as per my gyno’s recommendation. It took me like half an hour to get all the way up there, so any man who claims his dick is so big that he can feel it is full of it in more ways than usual, or he’s delusional.
Additional Side Effects:
Blood: So the heavy flow that lead to no flow is listed as a typical side effect, but one I did not expect is to sometimes bleed during sex. Not always, and not a lot, but sometimes when going at it with my man around my period or even ovulation, we both came out bloody. If you check around, many women with Mirena complain of this, and there is no real explanation. Try not to freak yourself out - just pay attention to your body, get tested regularly, confirm your Pap smears are normal, and talk to your doctor.
Acne: More like backne. Never in my life have I had large, painful back acne until I got the Mirena. Like, seriously? I’m 31 years old and I have to worry about THAT? This too has subsided in the year and a half I have had the IUD, but whenever a back zit rears, damn they are painful.
Weight Gain: Nope. That too is a myth, at least for me.
Has all of this caught your attention? Good. Between the two options we are covering, you should feel more comfortable talking to your gyno, and your partner (or not!) to determine if this is the right option for you. I totally recommend it, and when my 5 years is up, if I still don’t want to have a baby, I may even try the Paragard for 10 more years of freedom.
Images via mirena.com and 11points.com.