ParaGard and Mirena
How it Works
IUD stands for intrauterine device. An IUD is a small, plastic T-shaped device that is inserted into a woman’s uterus. There are two brands available in the United States: ParaGard and Mirina. ParaGard contains copper.
Both IUDs may be successful in part due to causing the body’s release of leukocytes and prostaglandins. The presence of a device in the uterus prompts the release of these substances, which are hostile to both sperm and eggs.
ParaGard is effective for 12 years. ParaGard has a pure electrolytic copper wire core with plastic wound around it. The arms of the T-shaped frame hold the IUD in place near the top of the uterus. It is said that the presence of copper increases the spermicidal effects of leukocytes and prostaglandins.
Mirena releases a small amount of the hormone progestin (levonorgestrel) and may be used for five years. The progestin works, as in other hormonal birth control methods, to prevent ovulation and to thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from passing through.
How to Use
Both IUDs must be inserted by a medical professional. ParaGard, the copper IUD, can be inserted any time during the menstrual cycle, but the best time is right after the period when the cervix is softest and the woman is least likely to get pregnant. Before insertion of the IUD, the cervix must be dilated, which is painful for some women. This is necessary so the uterus can be measured and then the IUD inserted.
When it is time to remove the device, your healthcare provider will do it for you. Do not try to remove it yourself.
Both Mirena and ParaGard have been shown to prevent pregnancy in over 99% of situations when the IUD is the only birth control method utilized and when it is used exactly as directed.
In terms of monthly average cost, the IUD is a very inexpensive long-term and reversible birth control method. For the medical exam, the IUD, insertion of the IUD and follow-up visits, the cost ranges from $500-1000.
- Paragard is effective for up to twelve years.
- Mirena is effective for five years.
- Both ParaGard and Mirena are two of the least expensive, longest lasting forms of reversible birth control on the market. IUDs do not interrupt sexual play, as there is no preparation to use them. The IUD cannot be felt by the woman or her partner.
- Minera, the IUD containing progestin, is known to reduce menstrual bleeding or prevent menstruation altogether. It has also been used as a treatment for menorrhagia (heavy periods).
- ParaGard does not change a woman’s hormone levels. Women like ParaGard because it can be used while breastfeeding, does not affect their natural hormones and does not carry any of the side effects of hormonal birth controls. Mirena can also be used while breastfeeding, because only small amounts of progestin pass through the breast milk. Progestin is not shown to have adverse effects on a baby’s health, weight gain or development. Talk to your healthcare provider about when is the best time to get the IUD after childbirth.
- Some women will have mild to moderate pain when the IUD is inserted. There is the possibility of spotting between periods for the first three to six months. Mirena users may have irregular periods. ParaGard users may have heavier periods or worse menstrual cramps.
- There is the possibility of the IUD partially or completely slipping out of the uterus. If it comes completely out, there is a chance of pregnancy.
- A woman can develop an infection when using the IUD. This is uncommon. It occurs when bacteria gets into the uterus while the IUD is being inserted.
- In even more rare situations, the IUD can push through the wall of the uterus when it is inserted. While this usually isn’t painful, it presents health risks. Usually your healthcare provider will notice right away and fix it. If not, the IUD can move around in the body, and surgery will be required to remove it.