How to Choose the Right IUD for Your Lifestyle

Choosing the right IUD means you need to take a close look at your lifestyle and what you expect from your birth control. An IUD, or intrauterine device, is one of the most effective forms of birth control. You have two options when it comes to an IUD: ParaGard IUD and Mirena IUD. Below you will learn how each form of birth control works to prevent pregnancy, how long it is effective for, and the risks involved when using an IUD. 


The Paragard IUD is a non-hormone IUD that can be effective for up to 12 years. It is a T-shaped soft plastic piece, wrapped in copper. This IUD contains no latex. Researchers do not know exactly how ParaGard works. However, some ideas include prevention of sperm from reaching the egg, or prevention of the egg from implanting (attaching) in the uterus.

To have your copper IUD inserted, you just need to make an appointment with your healthcare professional. He or she will measure your uterus and place the IUD in the same day. You will then learn how to do self-checks each month to ensure your IUD stays in place. Paragard continually works as soon as your healthcare professional places it in your uterus. It is effective 99% of the time and can be removed at anytime. 

Paragard is a good choice if you prefer a birth control method that does not use hormones. Some women choose Paragard because they cannot take hormones due to a specific medical condition. However, ParaGard has shown to cause excess heavy bleeding, longer menstruation, and spotting between periods.


Mirena IUD is an intrauterine device that releases levonorgestrel, a birth control hormone. It is a T-shaped soft plastic insert, much like ParaGard. The major difference is that it does not have plastic, but rather prevents pregnancy by releasing a small amount of hormones each month. Mirena is only effective for 5 years. 

Mirena is placed using the same method as the copper IUD. One of the positive effects of Mirena is the reduction of heavy periods. In studies, it has shown a 90% reduction of heavy bleeding over a 6 month period. Initial months may present irregular periods, but over time your periods will become shorter and even stop. 


Talk with your doctor about choosing the right IUD for your lifestyle. Take into consideration how long you want your IUD to effectively work, whether you want to have a birth control with hormones, and if you have trouble with heavy, long periods. 

Both forms of IUD birth control methods have risks including embedment, perforation, improper placement, and risk of infection as well as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Notify your doctor if you have a vaginal infection, or other diseases that increase your risk of infection. 

Both Paragard and Mirena are an inexpensive long-term birth control. Though you do have a large upfront cost, over time you end up paying less for an IUD than you would for other methods of birth control. Paragard or Mirena can cost anywhere from $175 to $650 depending on your provider. You will also have a charge when you are ready to remove your IUD. 


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