Editor’s Notice: We at CelebrityPie acknowledge that folks of many genders and identities have vaginas and uteruses, not simply those that are girls. For this explicit story, we interviewed specialists who usually referred to folks with vaginas and uteruses as girls.
Once I was first launched to the world of intrauterine gadgets (IUDs), I had determined that I not needed to take birth-control capsules and had started in search of various birth-control strategies that weren’t inclined to human error. In my search, I got here throughout the copper IUD called ParaGard: a hormone-free birth-control option that would be implanted in my uterus and stay there for many years, reliably blocking the fertilization of eggs without any further work on my end.
After a few years of having the ParaGard, however, I noticed that my menstrual flow changed to a heavier period with more painful cramps, and — although I loved this form of birth control for its efficiency — I personally needed to try another option. After talking to my gynecologist, it was decided that the best option for me would be a hormonal IUD (in my case, the Mirena). I had initially avoided the hormonal IUD, thinking that the hormones would change my body in the same the way my birth control pills did. But, due to my family’s medical history and my lifelong experience with heavy periods, my doctor highly suggested that I make the switch. So, I did. After doing so, my body experienced much milder side effects than it did with the copper IUD, which solidified the fact that I had finally found the right birth control option for me.
But, it made me wonder what makes these two palm-sized “T” devices different from one another. In my experience, the side effects of each one differ significantly. So, how do we know which one is the right one for us, if at all? I talked to two gynecologists about the copper and hormonal IUDs to uncover more about how and why exactly they differ, and the many similarities they share as well.
What make the copper and hormonal IUDs different?
According to the experts that spoke to CelebrityPie, the ParaGard (copper IUD) and the Mirena (hormonal IUD) are both intrauterine contraceptive devices that differ mainly in their contraceptive agents. The “ParaGard is a nonhormonal, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), and the Mirena is a hormonal LARC,” stated board-Licensed OBGYN Dr. Kameelah Phillips, MD IBCLC. In accordance with Deliberate Parenthood, LARCs (a household of contraceptives that additionally consists of the hormonal contraceptive implant) forestall undesirable being pregnant as much as 20 instances extra successfully than contraception capsules, patches, and vaginal rings. “LARCs are the simplest types of reversible contraception,” provides board-certified OBGYN Dr. Kiarra King, MD FACOG.
Whereas the ParaGard’s contraceptive agent is the skinny copper coil wrapped across the system, the Mirena prevents being pregnant by emitting a small quantity of the hormone progestin (just like the physique’s naturally occuring hormone, progesterone) slowly additional time. In accordance with Dr. Phillips, “each LARCs supply contraception for a number of years. The ParaGard for as much as 10 years, and the Mirena for as much as 5 years.”
How do the insertion and removing processes differ for every IUD?
“The mechanism used for inserting the gadgets is barely totally different for the doctor merely because of the design of every product,” defined Dr. King. Though the design of the insertion instrument differs barely, Dr. King assured us that “the affected person would not discover any distinction.”
Do the copper and hormonal IUDs have related success charges for contraception?
“Each IUDS are 99 % efficient in stopping unplanned being pregnant,” stated Dr. Phillips. Our specialists shared that each gadgets have a failure (or unintended being pregnant) price of lower than 1 %, however differ barely inside that threshold. “The copper IUD’s [failure rate] is round 0.8 %, whereas the hormonal IUD is round 0.2 %,” defined Dr. King, making the hormonal IUD barely simpler.
What are the advantages of the copper IUD, ParaGard?
Dr. Phillips stated that the ParaGard “is the longest-acting reversible contraception,” which makes this explicit system a great choice for many who need to forestall being pregnant with out having to interchange the IUD after a number of years. Deliberate Parenthood states that the copper IUD works by making it almost not possible for the sperm to succeed in an egg as a result of “sperm doesn’t like copper.” Dr. Phillips defined that “there isn’t any hormone [in the ParaGard] to change durations or ovulation,” which signifies that “it may be utilized by nearly anybody, no matter medical circumstances besides — after all — in case you have an allergy to copper.”
“Outdoors of the contraceptive profit,” added Dr. King, “the copper IUD is nice for 10 years, so there may be much less want for removing and reinsertion. It additionally has no hormones, which makes it an important choice for ladies who cannot use a hormonal methodology.” Curiously, a copper IUD can also be used as emergency contraception (rather than the morning-after capsule) and is greater than 99.9 % efficient if it is put in inside 120 hours (5 days) of getting unprotected intercourse. In fact, there are different elements to think about when having an IUD inserted, as outlined on this article.
What are the cons of the copper IUD ParaGard?
Each specialists agree that the first con of the ParaGard is the potential for it to vary one’s menstrual move. “Some girls will discover that their durations are heavier and extra painful with the copper IUD,” shared Dr. King. “This will likely not occur to everybody,” added Dr. Phillips, “however it is very important know that it’s attainable. Additionally, typically the interval can change into a bit crampy, so it is very important be open to taking ache remedy as wanted.”
What are the advantages of hormonal IUDs just like the Mirena?
Just like the ParaGard, the Mirena’s main profit is its effectiveness in stopping being pregnant, in line with our specialists. Along with its long-acting contraceptive advantages, “the levonorgestrel IUD is related to much less painful durations, decreased menstrual move and, for some girls, amenorrhea, which is the whole cessation of menstrual durations,” defined Dr. King.
For some, this easing of durations may be a useful facet impact, however for others, it may really feel life altering. “The hormonal part of the Mirena can supply girls with heavy or painful durations some significant reduction,” stated Dr. Phillips. Together with lighter or no durations, “girls can discover painful durations and pelvic ache additionally enhance.”
What are the cons of hormonal IUDs just like the Mirena?
At this level, the Mirena in all probability sounds just like the dream contraceptive however, like the rest, there are potental unwanted side effects. “The downsides can embody occasional recognizing and benign cysts on the ovaries,” shared Dr. Phillips. Detrimental unwanted side effects may additionally embody “irregular bleeding within the first a number of weeks to months after insertion, temper adjustments, breast tenderness, complications, or pores and skin adjustments similar to zits,” added Dr. King.
Are there some other potential unwanted side effects we should always learn about earlier than getting an IUD?
Along with the potential unwanted side effects for every listed above, Dr. Phillips shared that “all IUDs carry the chance of constructing a small gap within the uterus and/or getting caught within the uterus. The danger could be very small,” Dr. Phillips assured us, however nonetheless, it will be important info to know when deciding which contraception choice is greatest for you.
Ought to I be anxious if my interval adjustments after IUD insertion?
In accordance with Dr. King, “it is vitally widespread for ladies to note adjustments in menstrual patterns and move after an IUD insertion.” She added that “usually, with a hormonal system, bleeding could also be irregular initially after insertion, however will usually change into lighter as time goes on, merely because of the impact of the hormone on the uterine lining.” However, since durations can change into heavier with the ParaGard, “it is very important monitor your durations in the event that they change into heavier with ParaGard,” defined Dr. Phillips, as “heavier durations over time could cause anemia.”
Why can the ParaGard be left in longer than the Mirena?
In accordance with our specialists, the principle motive why the ParaGard and Mirena differ in length of effectiveness is due to their contraceptive components. “The Mirena has the hormone primarily infused into the system which is launched every day, however will finally run out,” stated Dr. King, explaining for this reason it is FDA-approved for a most of 5 years after its insertion. The motion of the ParaGard’s copper coil, however, “lasts longer than the sluggish launch progesterone that’s current within the Mirena,” in line with Dr. Phillips.
Is it secure to change from the ParaGard to the Mirena or vice versa?
“There is no such thing as a drawback with switching between ParaGard and Mirena,” Dr. Phillips stated. “Both can be utilized at totally different instances in your reproductive lifespan.” Dr. King seconded this, including that “it’s all depending on what’s greatest for a lady at a selected level in her life. Some girls get their IUD eliminated and one other one reinserted on the identical day.”
How do I discuss to my physician about which sort of IUD is greatest for me?
Dr. Phillips stated it’s first necessary to “clarify to your physician that you’re in search of a long-acting, reversible contraception. From right here, they’ll lead you thru the professionals and cons of every to see which choice might fit your needs greatest.” Throughout this dialogue along with your physician, you must “discuss overtly and candidly about your targets, well being historical past, and want for future being pregnant,” suggested Dr. King.
So far as deciding which choice is greatest for you, “it is very important know all your contraceptive choices to verify a long-acting reversible choice is best for you,” stated Dr. Phillips. “The subsequent choice level is should you want a nonhormonal or hormonal choice.” It is not possible to say which choice is greatest with out first understanding your particular medical historical past. “You probably have a historical past of heavy durations, a levonorgestrel-based IUD system could also be ultimate for you,” stated Dr. King. “You probably have contraindications to hormonal gadgets, a copper system could also be a greater choice. Every girl can have causes as to why a tool is greatest for her, and that is OK.”