Mirena IUD: How it Works, Benefits, Disadvantages
Mirena is one of the three Intrauterine devices (IUDs) available in Canada. This hormonal IUD is a long-term birth control solution for those looking for a maintenance-free contraception option.
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How does the Mirena Work?
The Mirena is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is placed into the uterus by a medical professional. The IUD releases the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Once Mirena is inserted, it releases amounts of levonorgestrel hormone, thickening the mucus in the cervix while thinning the lining of the uterus and preventing sperm from entering, Mirena inhibits reproduction in the following ways:
- alters the lining of the uterus to make it thinner, therefore making it more difficult for a fertilized egg to implant within the womb
- prevents the release of an egg from your ovary
- thickens the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from entering and fertilizing an egg
Once inserted, Mirena effectively prevents pregnancy for up to 5 years. Mirena is more than 99% effective, during the course of up to five years. The long term effectiveness of this device makes it an attractive option for those who do not want to conceive at present but may wish to do so in the future. Regular appointments/maintenance are not required once the device is in place.
How do I Get the Mirena?
Like any other IUD, consultation, along with a prescription is required. On the day of your appointment, your medical professional will take you through the steps of the procedure. Use this opportunity to ask your medical professional any additional questions you may have.
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What are the Benefits of the Mirena?
With a 99.6% success rate, one of the primary benefits of the Mirena is its rate of efficacy. Once in place, you can rest well knowing that you are nearly 100% protected from an unexpected pregnancy.
Additionally, once inserted, the Mirena requires little to no maintenance. Medical professionals generally recommend a follow-up visit 4-6 weeks after the procedure to ensure the device’s position is correct. After the follow-up appointment, the only maintenance required is a quick monthly check of the two thin strings attached to the end of the IUD.
After a few months of use, the Mirena can decrease and even completely stop menstruation. Since the use of the Mirena can cause a complete cessation of a menstrual period, this IUD is an excellent choice for those who have heavy periods and extreme cramping and pain with periods. Eliminating this extra blood loss can also be advantageous to those suffering from anemia.
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The long-term nature of the Mirena eliminates the need to “prepare” before intercourse. There is no need to worry about whether or not a condom is available, nor is there any need to worry about taking birth control pills regularly. When you are ready to conceive, removal of the IUD is a straight forward process.
If you have the Mirena and decide to conceive, your ability to get pregnant returns soon after the removal of the IUD. If you do get pregnant and have a child, once confirmation from your healthcare professional is received, re-insertion of the Mirena is possible. Once reinserted (and after receiving clearance from your doctor), you can safely breastfeed your child.
One of the main reasons why women choose Mirena is that once inserted, it can provide protection for up to 5 years. Another reason why Mirena differs from the other IUDs is that it is most commonly used to treat heavy periods.
What are the Disadvantages of the Mirena?
As any birth control method used, Mirena comes with a few potential cons. There may be a chance of ectopic pregnancy, and in rare cases, the perforation of the uterine wall or cervix. It may even cause severe infections, including pelvic inflammatory disease and sepsis if it’s not taken out on time.
The Mirena is a hormonal IUD that releases progestin into the body. This hormone can cause side effects in some individuals, including abdominal pain, headaches, changes in blood pressure, swelling of feet, face, ankles, etc.
While the Mirena may protect against pregnancy, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you are not in a committed sexual relationship, it is still necessary to take additional measures to protect yourself.
The process of getting the IUD inserted may be considered a con for some. The procedure itself can be painful for some individuals. When the IUD procedure is complete, your medical professional may suggest that you take the remainder of the day off to rest and recover. Taking the remainder of the day off and missing an entire day of work may be a disadvantage for some.
While rare, it is worth noting that the uterus can get punctured during the insertion of the Mirena. Inserting the Mirena during postpartum menses increases the chances of this happening.
Another rare occurrence of note is that some people report having their Mirena come out entirely or partially on its own (an event called expulsion). If this does happen, the IUD must be removed by a medical professional.
The Mirena is an excellent choice for those looking for an IUD. If you are interested in the Mirena, be sure to discuss with your medical professional to see if the Mirena is the right IUD for you.
Alternatives to Mirena Intrauterine Device: