Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a great option for long-term birth control for women and are the most popular reversible method used worldwide. An IUD is a T-shaped device that fits inside the uterus. IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. The IUD is placed inside of you in a health care provider’s office. If you are using an IUD you do not have to remember to take pills or pick up prescriptions at the pharmacy. There are currently two IUDs on the market, and they are very different in mechanism and side effects. Talk to your health care provider about which side effects seem more acceptable to you.
The ParaGard IUD is a copper T-shaped device that can stay in place for 10 years. The way ParaGard prevents pregnancy is not completely understood, but the copper seems to disrupt the sperm as they enter the uterus. ParaGard works immediately upon placement and can even be used for emergency contraception in certain circumstances. The main side effects of ParaGard include heavier and more painful periods. The ParaGard may be removed at any time if you wish to become pregnant. Because it is hormone-free, you will continue to have your regular cycles, and pregnancy can be attempted right away.
Weight Related Side Effects
ParaGard is hormone-free and will not cause hormonal weight gain or inhibit weight loss. Many women who are sensitive to weight gain from hormonal methods, such as birth control pills, the Depo Provera injection, Ortho-Evra patch and the NuvaRing, choose the ParaGard to avoid the possibility of weight gain.
The Mirena IUD releases the hormone levonorgestrel and can stay in place for up to 5 years. Levonorgestrel is a hormone that works to thicken cervical mucus and thin the uterine lining. For some women, the Mirena may inhibit ovulation.
The main side effect of Mirena is a change to the menstrual cycle. You may experience irregular bleeding for the first few months after the Mirena is placed. You may also notice lighter and less frequent periods or stop having periods altogether. This is a normal side effect of the hormone. Due to this side effect, Mirena can be used to help if you suffer from heavy periods and endometriosis. The Mirena seems to be associated with ovarian cysts for some women. Acne, hair loss, nausea, breast tenderness or a reduction in sex drive have been reported with Mirena. It can be removed at any time if you wish to become pregnant. It can take weeks or months for the hormonal effects of the IUD to go away in order for you to become pregnant.
Weight Related Side Effects
The levonorgestrel found in the Mirena IUD may cause weight gain in 5% of women. The reason is not completely understood. The best defense against hormonal birth control weight gain is to be proactive. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Make sure you exercise several times a week and incorporate both weight training and cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, walking or swimming.