An intrauterine device (IUD) is a form of birth control. It is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A plastic string is attached to the end of the IUD to ensure correct placement and for easy removal. IUDs should be inserted and removed by a medical professional.
Mirena has a synthetic progesterone hormone that goes into the wall of the uterus. Women using this IUD usually have lighter, less painful menstrual periods. Others have no menstrual periods at all. A few women have mood changes, headaches or less enjoyment of sex because of the hormones in this IUD, but those symptoms are not very common.
The ParaGard IUD has a tiny piece of wire wrapped around the plastic body. Some women choose this IUD because they want a method without artificial hormones. Most women with the ParaGard IUD have heavier, more painful menstrual periods than before it was inserted. Some also have irregular bleeding.
In most cases, you will not be able to use either of the two IUD’s inserted if:
• There is any possibility you are pregnant
• You have a serious pelvic infection, chlamydia, or gonorrhea. These need to be completely treated before the IUD is put in
• You have a post-childbirth or post-abortion infection. These should be resolved before you get the IUD
• You have cervical cancer and are already being treated; you should finish your treatment before the IUD is put in
• The shape of your uterus blocks the IUD from being inserted
• If you have breast cancer you would not be able to get the Mirena IUD because of the hormones it releases. The ParaGard IUD would be fine.
Many women using the IUD have cramping and irregular bleeding for the first few months. If the cramping is severe and is not only during menstruation, you should ask your doctor if it is simply an unpleasant effect of the IUD or a sign of infection. If the amount of the bleeding is more than you usually have in your cycle, your doctor will determine if it’s serious. Both non-medical home remedies and medical treatments can help. Bleeding and cramping usually last only a few months. If they are too bothersome, you can have the IUD taken out.
The IUD can actually come out, sometimes without the woman noticing. You can check for the string once a month, feeling with your finger. Because the string is soft, and can be tucked pretty far back in the folds of your vagina, your provider can show you how. If you stop feeling the string, or if you or your partner feels the hard plastic part of your IUD in your vagina, it could be coming out, and you should have it checked.