IUDs: Intrauterine Devices
There are so many options out there! How do you decide which to choose? Well my top pick is the IUD! I have one and I am OBSESSED with it. IUDs are 99% effective (just because you can never say 100%, but it basically is), and once you have it in, you don’t have to think about taking birth control pills or what ever! Oh the Freedom!
There are two types of IUDs: hormonal (Brands: Mirena, Skyla, Lilletta) and non-hormonal copper (Brand: Paraguard). Scroll down to learn more!
1. Hormonal IUDs: Mirena & Skyla
Skyla is slightly smaller than Mirena and lasts for 3 years, while Mirena lasts for 4 years (has a larger hormone reserve)
What is it: The Mirena is a plastic intrauterine device (meaning it sits in your uterus) that releases a small amount of progestin (synthetic hormone). It may give you lighter periods or remove menstruation all together.
It is actually the best:
- Localized Hormones
- Get it and forget it
- Human error is taken out of the pregnancy risk equation
- Don’t have to go to the pharmacy
- Peace out Period Pain: It can be used to treat painful period pains and there is growing evidence that the Mirena may be useful for treating endometriosis.
- Cost effective: High cost upfront, but it ends up being wayyy cheaper in the long run.
How long does it last: FDA approved for 5 years, but research shows it is effective for up to 7 years! But a doctor can remove it earlier if you are having a negative experience with it. After it is removed, you return to fertility very quickly.
Who is it for: You can get this IUD regardless of whether or not you have had kids! Wooho. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology actually recommend this as a first line contraception for nulliparous (i.e. someone who has never had kids) women and teens. All you need is a healthy uterus.
What does it look like:
(Scroll down to see how the Mirena size compares to the Skyla) It’s a tiny little bugger with a flexible T-body shape. The T body bends upward when it is being inserted, so it looks like an I, and then when it is inserted it pops open into a T (A great way to visualize is by raising your arms up in the air and then pop em out like a T–giant human version of the IUD achieved)
How does it work: So the full method title is levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system, the Mirena has 52 mg. Essentially, Mirena releases small amounts of levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in birth control pills, locally into your uterus at a slow rate. This means that only a little bit of hormones get into your blood (so you may not get the acne-cancelling benefits that come with less localized birth control pills). Mirena does not contain estrogen (which some types of birth control pills do)
Skyla is another levonorgestrel-releasing system that prevents pregnancy for up to 3 years. Skyla has a smaller hormone reservoir, containing 13.5 mg of levonorgestrel (Mirena is 4mm wider and 2 mm taller than Skyla)
Who is it for: Skyla is approved for women who have NOT had children
Skyla has all the benefits of Mirena! It is made of soft, flexible plastic, does not require refills or daily pills (~Fuck Human Error~) and is more than 99% effective
Experience: Spotting may increase for first 3-6 months but periods over time usually become shorter, lighter, or may stop all together
2. Non-Hormonal, Copper IUD
What is it: 100% Hormone Free. It is made of plastic and small amount of natural and safe copper. The copper essentially makes the uterus a hostile environment for sperm and zaps em (well interferes with sperm movement and egg fertilization).
Efficacy: More than 99% effective! The copper IUD is immediately effective (but you probably won’t want to have sex after the insertion ~woohoo vagina pain~) & IT LASTS FOR UP TO 12 YEARS!!! 12 YEARS!!! Also ~THE COPPER IUD CAN BE USED AS EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION UP TO 5 DAYS AFTER UNPROTECTED SEX~ and is more effective than EC pills (like Plan B), and it doesn’t decrease in efficacy with time, and it is not affected by weight (learn more about emergency contraception here)
NON-HORMONAL: Yes! Because it is hormone free, the copper IUD does not alter your periods. Although many people report heavier periods and worse cramping on the copper IUD. This a great option for people that have had negative reactions to birth control with hormones in it or for people who do not want additional hormones in their body!
Addressing some concerns about IUDs:
- You can still use tampons (and DIVA CUPS)
- You shouldn’t be able to feel it ~although I have had partners tell me they can feel the strings poke them and complain that it hurts, but it is transient and can be fixed by changing positions, plus over time the strings become less pokey as they get softer; ALSO you can get the strings shortened at the OBGYN~
- Monthly self check ~ask your partner to feel for the strings or do it yourself…DO NOT TUG!~
- IUDs DO NOT protect against STDs
- Not your mothers IUD ~The IUD of today is not the same IUD of the 1960s and 1970s; while uterine perforation and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may occur, it happens in less than 0.01% and 1% of cases, respectively.~ So I wouldn’t worry about it.