Sunday, November 08, 2009

Insight Into IUDs

By Danelle Frisbie © 2009
I realize the subject of contraception is not one you likely expected to find in this blog...but it is something I have been asked about a number of times as of late. It is also an area I used to address frequently when teaching Human Sexuality courses. I do believe it fits into the area of peaceful parenting when we make conscientious choices about child spacing - those that are in the best interest of ourselves, our marriages, our families, our individual locations in life, and those that are most favorable to the babies/children we already have.

I am fully aware that there are a number of people who choose to not use any form of contraception, and I do not condemn their choices in this matter - as long as it truly is the conscious choice of the mother. All women should have the option of making a fully informed decision as to their reproduction. That being said, the information and science we have surrounding safe contraceptive options and healthy child-spacing is indispensable and important to us today in much the same way as are the sciences/information surrounding other aspects of our modern world -- electricity, surgical procedures, pharmaceuticals, solar power, the internet, etc.

In her book, The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart, Jan Hunt highlights four steps that developmental and attachment scientists say are important in raising emotionally healthy and securely attached children. These steps include: (1) A positive birth experience, (2) extended breastfeeding and child-led weaning, (3) the consistency of caregivers and minimal separation from mom and (4) careful child spacing. "These four steps can have a profound effect on the entire family," notes Hunt. "[T]hey establish the capacity to love and trust within the child...Unfortunately many new parents are unaware of these four critical steps, especially if they have never experienced unconditional love and trust in their childhood," (Hunt 2001).

Family and childhood psychologist, Dr. Elliott Barker, takes the matter of child-spacing one step further. Barker is the founder and director of the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (CSPCC) and has studied the roll that birth control plays in healthy family units and the secure attachment of children to their parents. A lot of parents consider the question of the perfect 'spacing' of their children. According to Barker and CSPCC research, approximately 36 months between births (or more if it suites a particular family's needs) is optimal for most family units and for the health and wellbeing of both the babies/toddlers and their parents. Barker writes, "It requires an enormous amount of time and energy on the part of both parents to adequately nurture one child under the age of three. Spacing children is one important thing that parents can do to prevent the exhaustion that occurs when well-intentioned parents take on the very difficult task of trying to meet the emotional needs of closely spaced children," (Barker 1991).

The mounting evidence that a 36 months (or more) spacing of babies is ideal under most family conditions today in the West is compelling. If we lived under more natural, age-old, physiological human conditions (apart from nipplephobia and the like) where babies nursed well into their 3rd (or 4th or 5th) years of life, slept next to mom, were worn wherever she went, and had a 'village' of mothers helping out, we would see a natural spacing of birth that more closely emulates this longer span between babies, with much less stress on mothers when babies occasionally arrived closer together. But today, when only a very small fraction of babies are exclusively breastfeeding post 6-months in North America, many sleep apart from their mothers from birth, a large number of mothers leave to go to full time jobs all day, every day, and there is very little societal support or respect of mothering in general, child spacing must rely on other outside means of control. And this is where our modern day sciences surrounding contraception come into play.

Most of the questions I have received in my inbox over the past month are those inquiring about intrauterine devices (IUDs). And so, I will highlight that which I know to be true about IUDs in this article. If you personally have experiences with IUDs that would help other women in their exploration of this subject, I invite you to leave a comment at the end. I do not advocate for or against the use of an IUD with this article. It is solely meant for neutral, evidence-based information regarding the IUDs currently available in the United States.

Let's get started...

Currently, there are two IUDs available for use in the United States. One is a copper-wrapped device and the other is a progestin-releasing (artificial hormone) device.

The IUD is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider. A good time for insertion is during menstruation because the cervix is dilated at this time and it will cause the least amount of discomfort. However, insertion can take place at any time during a woman's cycle. This should be done after a complete evaluation is done to ensure this is the optimal method of birth control for any individual woman and her current needs and location in life. This is not, however, frequently the case. Because women's gynecological concerns are a billion dollar business, many clinics are willing to hand out IUDs like candy to anyone who walks through the door. So it is up to YOU to do the research ahead of time and decide what is best for you at this point in life. My mother (a pediatrician) has come under fire many times because of hospital pressure to give very young teen and preteen girls IUDs before she (my mother) knows 100% for certain that they are not already pregnant. If a woman is already pregnant and has a progesterone IUD implanted, the hormones can interfere with or end the pregnancy. If she has a copper IUD inserted, the uterus may start contracting to try and push out the foreign invader. In cases where neither of these things happen, babies have been born with an IUD inserted into their skull or other body organ. To avoid all these things, women should know for sure that they are NOT pregnant before getting an IUD.


When it is inserted, the uterus responds to an IUD by producing inflammatory cells and white blood cells in the uterine lining. The body is responding to the IUD as an invader and the uterine climate changes as a result. For a few minutes upon insertion the uterus may contract strongly and there may be significant discomfort. It is advised to take a pain-reliever (such as ibuprofen) before having an IUD inserted. Cramping may last a few minutes to a few hours.The body's natural inflammation response works in a contraceptive manner by preventing sperm from surviving in the uterus, and by preventing them from reaching the fallopian tubes. Sperm are actually pretty fragile creatures and die easily and quickly when conditions for their survival are not optimal. Male sperm die easier/faster than female sperm, so in the very, very small number of cases where impregnation does occur even with an IUD, the baby is often female. [For more on different internal climates leading to male or female offspring, see this book.]

The difference between the copper and progestin IUD:

Copper IUDs:


Copper IUDs have fewer than 1 case of pregnancy per 100 women per year with typical use, and fewer than 1 case of pregnancy per 100 women per year with perfect use. The average cost is $200-$300 and it lasts 10-12 years (or until a woman has the IUD removed).

A copper IUD is immediately effective as long as a woman is not already pregnant, did not ovulate in the past 24 hours, and has not had unprotected intercourse within the past 72 hours. [If this were the case, pregnancy could have resulted, and the IUD may or may not act to stop the pregnancy.] A copper IUD does not interfere with breastfeeding or a woman's natural hormones (Stoppard 2001). It is also thee most effective means of birth control, with the same rate of efficiency as tubal sterilization (Boston Women's Health 2005). Copper IUDs have the added benefit of not changing a woman's natural cycle (hormonally) so she will still ovulate and menstruate naturally. As a result, women with a copper IUD can continue to track their cycle (days of menses, number of days in cycle, and counting back 11-14 days to determine approximate time of ovulation). During the week she will likely ovulate, a women with an IUD can use the additional backup method of a condom, diaphragm, or other barrier method to ensure 100% pregnancy does not occur.

For the Paragard brand copper IUD, see their website here.


Hormonal (progesterone) IUDs:


Progestin IUDs have 2 cases of pregnancy per 100 women with typical use per year, and 1.5 cases of pregnancy per 100 women per year with perfect use. The average cost is $395 and it lasts 5 years (or until a woman has the IUD removed).

The progestin IUD is also immediately effective with the same stipulations as the copper IUD listed above. However, unlike the copper IUD, the hormonal IUD does impact a woman's natural hormone flow and suppresses ovulation in some women. The progestin IUD is a progesterone-only hormonal birth control method. Progesterone is in the same family of hormones as testosterone and it is NOT an estrogen or estrogenic hormone. As such, complications that apply to drugs acting in an estrogenic manner, do not apply to the progestin IUD. The specific artificial version of progesterone used in the progestin IUD (brand name, Mirena) is levonorgestrel. It is very similar in nature to other sythetic progestin-only contraception methods (the 'mini-pill', Depo-Provera, Norplant).

As with our intake of all artificial hormones (ubiquitous today in most of our food, drinks, pharmaceuticals, and environment) the progestin IUD does shift normal hormone flux in woman. This may be desired in some women (to regulate heavy blood flow or cramping) and it may not be desired in other woman (who experience migraines, have had breast cancer, or cervical cell change). The FDA issues this precaution about all artificial hormone contraceptives (including the progestin IUD): Women who currently have or have had breast cancer, or have a suspicion of breast cancer, should not use hormonal contraception because breast cancer is a hormone sensitive tumor.

In addition to making the uterine lining inhospitable for sperm, the progestin IUD also alters the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot easily penetrate through the cervix and into the uterus. There are still rumors that IUDs allow fertilization to take place (but prevent the fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus). However recent studies indicate that modern IUDs (they have changed in design since the 1980s) prevent pregnancy by preconception mechanisms - especially by thickening the cervical mucus to be impenetrable to sperm (Foley, Kope & Sugrue 2002; Stoppard 2001). In this manner, the hormonal IUD is, again, much like Norplant or Depo-Provera in its contraceptive properties. If a woman already plans to use a hormonal method of birth control, the progestin IUD has the added benefit of being one that she does not need to think about every day for use, and one that acts directly within and on her reproductive organs (not throughout her entire body). In fact, she can have one inserted, and other than checking the strings, not have to worry about it for 5 years.

Studies also show that the progestin IUD decreases menstrual bleeding and cramping over time. We see a typical 85% decrease in blood loss within the first 3 months after insertion, and a 97% decrease by 12 months (Boston Women's Health 2005). 30% of users of the hormonal IUD stop having menstrual periods altogether. These results are not usually the case during the first couple months when periods may be longer, heavier, and more erratic. Because of the change in hormones and cycle (number of days, menses, and ovulation) it is not possible for a woman with a progestin IUD to accurately chart her cycle.

For the Mirena brand progesterone IUD, see their site here.


IUDs do not cause infections themselves (another myth that stems in part from the 70s' Dalkon Shield discussed below) but they do enable sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to enter the fallopian tubes more easily (Haas 1998). Having multiple sex partners with an IUD increases the risk of contracting an STI (unless condoms are also used), and increases the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease - more bacteria from a wider assortment of people is introduced into the body with multiple sex partners (Foley, Kope & Sugrue 2002; Stoppard 2001). If a woman contracts an STI, it is wise to have the IUD taken out so that bacteria do not cling to and grow on the IUD, and so that it does not irritate her body while it is trying to heal itself.

Most clinicians believe that IUDs are not typically a smart choice for young women who have not had children. They have, on occasion, caused a perforation of the uterus (1 in 1,000 cases), pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) usually from an STI that spreads, and an increase in cases of ectopic pregnancies. We find sociologically that the younger a sexually active girl is, the less likely she is to use another form of protection against STIs if she has an IUD in place. Ectopic pregnancies are also more common in first pregnancies, and while IUDs decrease the rate of ALL pregnancies (ectopic included), IF a pregnancy does occur with an IUD in place, it is more likely to be an ectopic pregnancy. [Ectopic pregnancies occur in about 1 of every 100 pregnancies, but are more common in 1st pregnancies.]

For these reasons, most clinicians also agree that an IUD is not a good choice for women with compromised sensation (i.e. not able to feel sensation in their pelvic area) because perforation of the uterus and/or the pain that accompanies a PID or ectopic pregnancy would not be noticed (Boston Women's Health 2005; Hakim-elahi 1991).

IUDs may also increase bleeding and pain during menstruation (as the uterus is irritated by the IUD and attempts to push it out). This is usually more true with the copper than the progestin IUD. About 1 in 10 women has her IUD removed due to excessive bleeding and/or cramping (Condon 2004). Expulsion of the IUD (having it pushed out with a woman's period) is not uncommon, so women need to check the strings to make sure it is still in place. Usually, if an IUD is going to be pushed out by the body, it will happen within the first 3 months. After that time, it seems to be more stable. In one study 1.2 - 7.2 On occasion an IUD is painful to insert (this, again depends on each individual woman). The progesterone IUD also includes the possible side effect of ovarian cysts (already common in many women and frequently painful) because it is interfering with hormones. It should be noted that at times heavy bleeding (and cramping) with an IUD only occurs during the first several months, and then subsides as a woman's body grows accustomed to the 'invader' within.

Six weeks after having an IUD inserted, a woman should return to her care provider to check the IUD strings and make sure there are no signs of infection. In any cases of unusual vaginal bleeding, lower abdominal pain, abnormal discharge, or unexplained fever (possible signs of PID) a health care provider should be seen immediately.

The well-respected Brigham and Woman's Hospital in Boston gives these instructions on checking an IUD:

To check the strings of an IUD, reach a finger into your vagina and feel for your cervix. You should be able to feel the strings against your cervix. If you cannot feel your IUD strings, or you can feel the hard plastic of the IUD at the opening of your cervix, you should abstain from sex or use another contraceptive method until you see your provider to determine whether the IUD is still in place.


Women who have a long vagina, or a high set or tipped cervix, may have difficulty in reaching the cervical area to check the strings. I have known women who could not reach their cervix with their fingers no matter what 'fun' position they got themselves into. Each woman's body is unique unto herself, so again, this is something each individual should consider when exploring their birth control options.

Considerations when an IUD may not be the best option:
-current, recent (past 3 months), or repeated pelvic infection
-known or suspected pregnancy
-severe infection of the cervix
-malignant lesions in the genitals (cancers)
-unexplained vaginal bleeding
-HIV/AIDS
-Paralysis (because of the inability to feel a problem)
-Physical inability to check the IUD strings (as mentioned above)
-Women with Wilson's disease (copper IUD)
-Women allergic to copper (copper IUD)
-Women with heavy bleeding/cramping (copper IUD)
-Women with hormonal complications (progestin IUD)
-Women with cervical problems (progestin IUD)
-Women with breast cancer, history of breast cancers (progestin IUD)

IUDs are still not that popular among women in the United States. While more are choosing them, they received bad press in the 70s/80s when one type of IUD (the Dalkon Shield) was found to be unsafe, causing a greater than typical number of pelvic infections. 20 women died as a result, and many more filed suit against the company. The maker declared bankruptcy in 1985 and all IUDs were pulled from the market in the late 1980s. As a result, the reputation of IUDs was damaged for a couple decades. In 1998 only 2% of women using contraception choose the IUD (Condon 2004; Haas 1998). Only today is the IUD becoming popular again. The IUDs made today are safer and have not been found to increase the risk of any infections for women who are not already at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (as discussed above).

There is no known connection between the use of an IUD and any future problems becoming pregnant again (Boston Women's Health 2005). As soon as the IUD is removed, pregnancy can once again occur. However, this may take a few months longer after the use of a hormonal IUD than the copper IUD because of the body's need to shift gears and get back into ovulation mode. However, IF a woman contracts an STI while an IUD is in place, the complications from the STI can cause infertility.

I hope this answers some of the questions surrounding IUDs as an option for birth control, and again, I would encourage those of you with personal experience using IUDs to leave a comment below and let others know what you liked or did not like about this particular birth control method.


References:

Barker, Elliott. (1991). Film Guide to CSPCC Video: When You Can't Feel No Love. Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

Boston Women's Health Collective. (2005). Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era. New York: Touchstone.

Condon, Marian. (2004). Women's Health: An Integrated Approach to Wellness and Illness. York, PA: Prentice Hall.

FDA - Food & Drug Administration. (2008). Levonorgestrel-releasing Intrauterine System Warnings, Contraindications, Precautions, Adverse Reactions and Medical Guide. Washington D.C.: US Department of Health and Human Services.

Foley, Sallie, Kope, Sally, & Sugrue, Dennis. (2002). Sex Matters For Women: A Complete Guide to Taking Care of Your Sexual Self. New York: Guilford Press.

Hass Sheila. (1998). The intrauterine device: Dispelling the myths. The Nurse Practitioner, 23 (11).

Hunt, Jan. (2001). The Natural Child: Parenting From the Heart. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers.

Stewart, Elizabeth. (2002). The V Book: A Doctor's Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health. New York: Bantom Books.

Stoppard, Miriam. (2001). Women's Health Handbook: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Her Body. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishing.

104 comments:

  1. Great info. Before posting my experience, I should say that I am 33 with no children. But, I also don't know if I plan to have kids. Right now, we are on the doubtful side...lol. But that could change.

    I have had the Mirena for about 2 years now. I won't lie. I HURT going in. I also noticed an increase in yeast infections and acne, which I don't know if it was related. It did start once inserted though, so it seems there may be a connection. But, once I started taking acidophilous on a daily basis, I have had zero problems with either issue.

    My periods have always been light, but i now don't bleed or bleed very lightly. I haven't bought pads or tampons since having the IUD.

    All in all, I love it because I don't have to think about taking the pill. I got bad at remembering, and we just weren't in a place where we wanted to deal with a pregnancy.

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  2. I had a Mirena IUD for about a year and a half. I didn't have any problems with it, and after about 2-3 months I didn't get my period at all for the next 14 months, which I have to admit was nice. Once and awhile I would still get mild menstral cramps, but nothing compared to the cramps I had with my actual period before the IUD. My gyn said those symptoms were normal and nothing to worry about, as did Mirena's website. I just recently got it taken out, just for the sheer fact that I didn't like the idea of something foriegn in my body anymore. Virtually painless to get removed, and I got my period the next day, which lasted 6 days; although the nurse who took it out said if I started a birth control pill right away, there would be no interuption in birth control.

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  3. After having my second son, I had a Mirena IUD put in. The nurse told me that it shouldn't be too bad since I'd had two vaginal births.... but she was wrong. It was awful. I had pain for 3 days after insertion as well. (Which, I was told, can be typical) I have a very high pain tolerance, so for me to complain about pain it has to hurt very bad. After the pain went away I was fine. I had it for about 3 years. My periods got lighter and lighter and after about 6 months stopped completely, with the occasional spot every now and then. I loved it... until I noticed that it was causing a higher instance of Acne. I normally have acne on my face, but it was causing it to be all over my back... so after a few months of debating, I had it removed. I think other than insertion and the acne, this was a good method.

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  4. Personally, I LOVED my copper IUD and HATED the Mirena. I think I am sensitive to hormones, though.

    One other thing, especially for breastfeeding moms. A lot of physicians are billing the Mirena as not having any systemic effect, only a local effect to the uterus. However, studies have shown the hormone to be excreted in breastmilk - sounds systemic to me, no? I have also heard reports of decreased milk supply following a Mirena insertion, so please be aware. All of the providers in the cases I know of assured their patients that it would have no such effect on breastfeeding.

    I do know others who love the Mirena, so I think the point about researching options and weighing the risks and benefits is very important!

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  5. I had a copper IUD from 2002 to 2005. I chose it because I do not respond well to hormonal birth control methods. I was told it would not interfere with my cycles and could last for as long as 10 years before it would need to be removed.

    It did not cause me any of the emotional issues I've had while trying hormonal birth control ~ it did however change my cycle. I went from a regular 29 day cycle where I would bleed for 4 to 5 days to one where I would spot for a week, bleed for a week then spot for another week. I would get a one week break from this then it would start all over again.

    When I had it removed I went back to my regular cycle within one month. I will never use an IUD again. Way to much hassle for something that "would not affect my cycle."

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  6. I have the Paraguard and have had it for 4 years now and had no trouble with it. My periods may be a bit longer, but I had long periods to begin with, so a couple more days is not bad. I struggle with more the ethical views on it, than the other. But I think one thing that most people don't know is that the way it works is by irritation and inflaming your uterus. There is often more pain after sex the following day, I have found. Also, I am a bit sensitive to the copper and have to take high levels of zinc to counteract it so I don't break out all over my face.

    I think hormones are dangerous for your body and I actually don;t even believe that in most cases it is right to se birth control, but in some cases it is needed and in my case it was not good. I am thankful I have this and would recommend it as a birth control with lower side effects than many of the others. The longer periods are tough, but hey, better than risk of breast cancer!

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  7. I am a volunteer breastfeeding counselor and have noticed that some women report a significant drop in milk supply after getting the Mirena IUD. It doesn't seem to happen with everyone, but I don't know of a way to tell if someone will have this side effect. The women I've talked to report about a 50% drop in supply within a day or two of getting the Mirena. This is extremely upsetting for these women, so I try to make sure women know this is a possibility.

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  8. Hello. I wasn't sure where to post this question so I tried to find a post that pertained to my question as closely as possible.
    I am a breastfeeding peer counselor at my local WIC office and am the only one in town. The most frustrating thing that I have had to deal with in the past 3+ years at this job is uneducated doctors. We have one family doctor specifically who feels it's necessary to prescribe all of her breastfeeding moms estrogen birth control pills.
    Our office has given her all the resources she needs to prescribe BC that is not harmful to the milk supply but she refuses. I've even printed out information (several times) from Medications and Mother's Milk but she refuses to change the rx unless "it reduces the milk supply." She doesn't understand how hard it is to get the supply back once it's gone down.
    Is there anything that I can do to take care of this problem? I know that there have been countless women who's milk supply has suffered at her hands.
    Thank you so much!

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  9. Great post Danelle!

    When I got my first Mirena, I was told it is MORE effective than even tubal ligation and the copper IUD.

    (this link reflects the same stats I was shown: http://www.contraceptivetechnology.org/table.html )

    I was also told it is by far the "safest" method, and carried the least risk of side effects. NOT saying my care provider was right, LOL, what are you thoughts?

    I had my first Mirena IUD put in a year after I had my first baby. I still had regular periods. They returned fully regular just 7 weeks after birth, despite exclusive breastfeeding. My cramping went away though, and that was huge for me! I used to get insane cramps that I couldn't walk or talk through, and would wake me up with tears streaming. Intense. I was glad to be rid of them!

    After just about a year of use, my IUD got out of place and was found hanging out in my cervix, LOL. I hadn't been able to feel it because of the way my cervix tilts and I can't reach it. Anyhoo, no biggie, we were considering TTC anyway, so it just pushed us over the edge. We got pregnant on our first attempt after it came out!

    Despite my little issue with the first one, I had another put in 6 weeks after our 2nd baby was born. Facing Hyperemesis Gravidarum again scares the crap out of me, so an effective method I can't screw up is SUPER important to me!

    I had one period after baby #2 was born, then it went totally away once my IUD was put in. I guess breastfeeding alone wasn't enough to kick out my periods, and neither was JUST an IUD, but when I put them together the periods were gone. 2 years later and I've only had very occasional light spotting. I wonder about your thoughts on this? I've heard it is okay to not have periods for a long time, and I hope they're right, lol! Also, still no cramps, yay! They warned me it had a small risk of decreasing my milk supply, but I had quite the opposite problem for several months, lol.

    I have wondered about using something hormonal while breastfeeding. I know the dose is supposed to be super low, but do you know anything about whether it impacts a nursling at all?

    Sorry for all the questions chica, LOL, but I quite honestly trust you more than any of the brain dead doctors here!

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  10. I'm wondering if the plastic of the IUD has phthalates, BPA, or any other nasty chemicals in it. I had a paragard for over 7 years and loved it. No problems at all. I had it removed in order to conceive. It took 14 months but I was over 40 and not really trying. We just felt that if it was meant to happen, it would happen. Anyhow, six months after our beautiful baby boy was born (my fourth child), I got another paragard. The only problem I've had is that my period has gone from 5 days to 7. I'm just concerned about the plastic.

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  11. I had the Mirena after giving birth to my son (by c-section) and it wasn't that bad going in, and I liked not having to worry about birth control. I never had a period, but I also breastfed my son until he was over two and I was pregnant again. I started having sharp pains after about a year and a half. I decided to have it taken out (we wanted to add to our family) and in the process found out it had imbedded into my uterus. It was painful to have it removed but I got pregnant within a week of having it out. I did have a hell of a time loosing weight while I was on it and I think it was the hormones. After giving birth to my daugher by VBAC I have chosen not to get it again because I don't think the hormones are good for my body.

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  12. I have a copper IUD, and I LOVE it. My son is 13 months old, I had it inserted when he was 4 months old, "just in case", despite the fact that I exclusively breastfed for 9 months. It was a little uncomfortable going in, but I think getting one shortly after having a baby makes a big difference.

    The discharge is kind of gross... it's yellowish and there is a lot of it, but I'll take discharge over a second pregnancy right now ;)

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  13. I wouldn't recommend the mirena to anyone who is prone to depression on birth control. I received a Depo-provera shot once and along with making it impossible to conceive for SIX YEARS, it threw me into a terrible terrible depression that lasted about a year. The hormones in Mirena are the same as those in Depo-provera and I have heard feedback from girlfriends that Mirena made them depressed.

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  14. I have a question about the copper IUD, that I'm not sure if you've come across in your research. If it sends inflammatory cells to the uterus, I wonder if it raises the inflammatory response of the whole body? I'm just wondering because I've had the paragard for 3.5 years now and the past 2 years, my seasonal allergies have been horrible. I've also been having reactions to more foods in the last year. Have you come across any info about that?

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  15. I got the paraguard after I gave birth to my first daughter and I LOVED it! I loved never having to wonder if I was pregnant or worry about my birth control. I'm sensitive to hormones, they give me migraines and I was breastfeeding so my only birth control options are the paraguard, condoms or a diaphram. I had my paraguard for two years and I got pregnant within two weeks of having it removed! After my second daughter I discovered that my insurance company didn't cover IUDs:( I have been using a diaphram for two years and have had many pregnancy scares because it doesn't have the high success rate of the IUD. Not to mention that it's a pain in the booty!!

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  16. Very interesting, thank you for sharing

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  17. I loved my mirena after my first but it fell out and I ended up pregnant with my second child before my daughter was even one....but that's rare so I still suggest it

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  18. I HATE the mirena. If you google it you can see the abudance of women who hate it too.

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  19. i had a mirena it resulted in me being in horrific pain in on side of my tummy, docs told me i had to get used to it. they refused to remove it until i threatened to remove it myself. i have friends who have had them with no issues. id try one again....but i passed out and was sick with pain at the fitting of the first so im not so sure :-/

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  20. I LOVE my Mirena. I had a Paragard after my first child, but had such severe bleeding that I had to have it removed.

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  21. I love my Mirena. :-) No problems. Insertion was very uncomfortable, but very fast. I have had it in for close to a year now and my cycle has finally returned (which could also be from breastfeeding). I have recommended it to friends who have had babies and want a "no fuss" sort of birth control.

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  22. I have a Merina, wanted an copper IUD but was told the where no longer available (3yrs ago) in Australia. Does anyone know if that is correct?

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  23. I was fitted for a Diaphragm - id recommend it (NOT SCARY)

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    1. Where are you Tania? I tried to get fitted for a diaphragm (had one years ago), but my doctor couldn't do it and my ob/gyn wouldn't.

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  24. I love my mirena - I don't get along with the pill at all I had it fitted after my son was born and for me it meant my moods were normal I was in no pain during my period - whereas before I was in monthly agony tear jerking pain,even with breastfeeding.
    and I wasn't worrying about falling pregnant -until I chose to do so.
    I'd have it fitted again when this bump is born I think we each have different needs and we must research and evaluate every way.

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  25. my dh has scars from my last two so we are not allowed them anymore... per his instruction.

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  26. MacKenzie-scars!? Oh poor guy! My DH felt the strings, I had them trimmed and he had no more problems with them.

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  27. Be careful using the Mirena IUD while Breastfeeding..Dr Newman has received many many emails from mothers who had a drastic drop in milk supply after having the Mirena fitted!

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  28. Gloria... it actually made him bleed the Mirena and Copper wire both fitted a few times to have the strings adjusted. So it is now referred to as the devil in my home and is not allowed back in...

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  29. I am using Paragard and it's fine but last month, for three days, I was in this emotional funk that I could not get out of. It was horrible! When I did some research, I found that many women have had severe depression with Paragard and other IUDs. So far, no severe depression this month, but I am keeping track of it. I still don't like the idea of something like that in my uterus but it seems to be the best thing for us until we're ready for the next wee one.

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  30. My sister completely stopped lactating less than a week after getting her Mirena IUS.

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  31. Mirena made me a crazy *itch--artificial hormones do a number on me. Plus, my Mirena fell out and I ended up pregnant with my twins. We are now using a combo of several barrier methods.

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  32. I've had my IUD in for almost 6 months. I have had no problems so far. My periods have almost completely stopped, which is nice. It has it's pro's and con's just like every other BC method. You just have to do some research and decide if it's right for you.

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  33. We use condoms :)

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  34. The nice thing about the copper IUD [for me] is that it ISN'T hormonal. It comes out quickly and easily. Fertility is immediately revved up and conception happens easily after removal, no waiting for hormones to adjust and ovulation to get back on track. Must say, however, that I had mine placed 6 weeks after vaginally birthing my DD and it was pretty uncomfortable going in. My Doc told me the best time (or most comfortable) is when the cervix is still soft and stretchy after vag birth. I had mine inserted ASAP and it was still unpleasant (this is said with the conviction of an unmedicated birther!). Completely worth it to me to skip the hormones, but I think the article is a *bit* inaccurate when it comes to how uncomfortable the insertion can be...or maybe it's just me...

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  35. Thanks, Breezy. I'm seeing lots of misinformation in this thread.

    Everyone needs to do their homework - and the Peaceful Parenting link above explains it well.

    Every bc method has a failure rate. The diaphragm has a failure rate, IUDs have varying rates depending on the kind. NFP has a very high failure rate depending on who's using it, or it can be pretty good if you're good and regular and you're willing to restrict your sex life a good bit.

    There are significant differences between the Mirena and other kinds of IUDs. The Mirena is larger (more discomfort with insertion) and has progesterone. Copper IUDs have no hormones.

    The IUD is an extension of one of the oldest birth control ideas known to humanity. Women and farmers have been putting things inside uteri in an effort to prevent pregnancy for many thousands of years. Google the Museum of Contraception - lots of cool stuff.

    I've been using Mirena for seven years. I got it to treat dysfunctional menstrual bleeding with birth control as a side effect. It's been really good for me. It was slightly uncomfortable to insert and caused a bit of cramping in the first few hours, but no big deal.

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  36. love love love the paraguard. professionally and personally

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  37. I had the Mirena for 5 years after my daughter was born and will never do it again. During the first year, I would have spells of horrific pain. Cat scans, ultrasounds, x-rays all showed that it was placed properly. I had it removed when we were ready to conceive our second child. I subsequently had 3 miscarriages and nearly lost my son to a subchorionic hematoma. I cannot prove that these issues were due to scarring left by the IUD, but I cannot help but wonder...

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  38. i'm so glad you posted this...just in time, too. i had my mirena put in about 3 weeks ago. cramping is horrible, i've had the longest period of my life, and my mood swings are horrible. my husband doesn't understand...i've never been the type to "flip out" or "over react". it just HAS to be the mirena.

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  39. IUD is my way of peaceful parenting. I suffered from severe PPD, after the birth of my twins. My husband and I didn't want to make any "final decisions" so to speak, so I chose the IUD. No it's not perfect, no it's not natural, but I was able to pick myself back up and enjoy my twins without the fear of getting pregnant again so quickly.

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  40. i have the Mirena iud, not for birth control, but to help prevent bleeding out from adenomyosis. it is either the mirena, or a hysterectomy. and since i am 27 i dont yet want a hysterectomy. i HATE the iud. i am in constant pain. the hormones make me SICK, i have a lot of problems caused by it. but no insurance to get it removed. or to have the hysterectomy.

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  41. very helpful info, thank you! I had a healthcare provider suggest an IUD recently as I can no longer take BCPs due to a drug interaction.....but something just makes me uncomfortable with the whole idea (even before researching about it)..... I think I'll stick to condoms going forward!

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  42. I wanted to add my two cents. I recently had a Paragard IUD inserted 6 weeks after my son was born (I've only had it a couple of weeks now). My experience as a woman with four children was that it was very painful going in, but I haven't noticed anything since then. I'm told that nulliparas tend to have the worst cramping, so perhaps it's because I've already had four children that it's not as bad for me.

    I can't do hormonal birth control because the "mini-pill" (progesterone only) makes me suicidal. I get really crazy on it! The combo pill (estrogen/progesterone) works a bit better, but I still have a lot of mood problems, and as a BFing mom of a newborn, I can't take the combo pill because of what it will do to my milk supply. Condoms and spermicide are a pain in the butt, and we know we don't want another baby for at least 3 years or so, so the IUD was the perfect solution for me.

    My doc advised using a backup BC method for the first month, and he's going to re-examine me after a month and show me how to check strings & stuff. He says that if the IUD is expelled, it's likely to happen in the first month, which is why he recommends a backup method (my backup method is LAM). Now that it's finally in, I love knowing that it's something I won't have to worry about. I like the fact that it's fully reversible and non-hormonal, and that as soon as I have it removed I can start getting pregnant again. And I love the fact that it's more reliable and effective than the pill and less trouble--I don't have to mess with anything!

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  43. Firstly, i live in the uk so things may be different here. When i was 16, i was on the pill and with my first boyfriend. due to exam stress i forgot to start taking the pill again after the 7 day break. we went to the doctor who said it was too late for the morning after pill, and although i was unlikely to be pregnant he refered me to the hospital to have an iud inserted as emergency contraception. i didnt know anything about it, and was concerned when the nurse gave me 2 paracetamol in the waiting room. then it was inserted, and i have since had 2 children naturally with no pain relief and it was by far more painful than that. afterwards i nearly passed out from the pain. i had to leave it in for 4 weeks, and in that time experienced severe cramping and bleeding. afterwards, i had vaginismus - involuntary contraction of the vagina during sex which makes it painful or impossible to have sex. this was caused by the psychological effects of the traumatic experience, and i had this for several years after.

    i get very angry now looking back, especially reading this article, as i now know that inserting an iud into a woman who hasnt had children is not advised, nor is it if a pregnancy is suspected. i still have problems with my sex life now, and all because a doctor didnt know enough about women's fertility or iuds.

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  44. I was 28 yrs when I had my copper IUD inserted, 3 months after a successful med-free vaginal delivery of a baby girl. Insertion was slightly uncomfortable, like a pap smear, however experienced cramping for 24 hrs - and then it went away. However since that time I have experienced, what I believe now, was an intolerance to the copper. I had intense brain fog, was lethargic, had continuous vaginal discharge (mucuous, clear or yellow, sometimes blood tinged), and often times pain after orgasm.

    Once my daughter was a year and a half old and was breastfeeding less, I had severe pain in the left pelvic area, could barely walk. Emerg doc said it was nothing that tylenol wouldn't cure, ultrasound showed IUD in normal position, and then a few days later I experienced my first period since the birth of my DD and it was heavy, heavy, heavy. After that I my periods have been a week of spotting and discharge, 8 days of heavy bleed (compared to 3 days of light bleed before baby) and a week after, of spotting.

    So 1 1/2 yrs after insertion, I went in to have the IUD removed and they could not find the "strings", so was referred to ob/gyn who was able to remove it (not painful at all) and have been feeling 100% better. More energy, no more brain fog or spotting or discharge, or pain on orgasm. Coincidentally, all of my cravings for sugar have disappeared as well....

    That said, this was my personal experience and though I believe I have a minor intolerance to copper, I was never officilly diagnosed with such.

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  45. IUD is new and amazing for me as well as those women who are not ready for surgery. sometimes ago i have read about tubal reversal on http://mybabydoc.com and was much surprised to know that by tubal reversal a woman can repair her tied tubes again.do anyone know about this?

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  46. I had Mirena put in almost 2 years ago, and while it does an excellent job of preventing pregnancy I have been less than thrilled with it overall.
    First, it HURT going in, and for a couple days after, and I've had a child already.
    Second, I bled for three months straight after having it put in, and since then my periods have been irregular and longer than usual (9-10 days in a 25 day cycle, instead of 5 in a 29 day one).
    I agree about this discharge, it's kind of off-putting.
    Also, I have gained weight and had more emotional issues, as well as a big drop in my sex drive. I didn't attribute those to the IUD at first, but after reading more I think they might be.
    All in all, I am seriously considering having it removed. My problem is that I'm really bad at remembering pills. Depo didn't work either (bled the whole time), and the patches irritate my skin. I would love to go without all together,, but my partner and I have been together for a long time and we both dislike condoms. What's a girl to do?

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  47. I've had the copper IUD for six months or so, and I have no complaints at all. My periods aren't that heavy (though I'm still breastfeeding, so that could be part of it), nor are they more painful. The insertion was a bit painful, but I didn't experience any pain after that, even though I did bleed for a week or so after insertion. I would definitely recommend it, especially for women who are breastfeeding and/or sensitive to hormonal birth control. We did natural family planning prior to my pregnancy, and, well, that obviously failed.

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  48. i have the mirena, and so far, i have only had 2 issues; early on, the string "vanished" so the doctor had to do an ultrasound to see if it was there, and it was. now he just checks it at every yearly appt, just to make sure its still in there. i dont even bother checking the strings.

    the other issue i had is that i had pains; stabbing worse than labor pains. they thought at first ovarian cysts (from the IUD) but it turned out more likely to be IBS. but, they did 2 ultrasounds for cysts before they figured that out, costing me a cool 2200$. not very fun!

    anyway. i like the mirena otherwise, its not like any other B.C. ive ever used; i dont have to struggle to remember to use it! :) and theres no loss of sensation or requirement for lubrication..... its just perfect. though, i dont know if i would get another one after this; i might lean toward natural family planning. :)

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  49. I had the IUD put in after I got pregnant twice on birth control. We had a surro baby and then had another IUD, then twin surro's and another IUD. We then decided to add number three to our family and we are due in March. I am defiantly planning on getting an IUD as soon as I can after.
    It does make me have a bit more heavy period, but I love how reliable it is. Being a busy mom I know for sure now I will forget to take a pill everyday and the pill has not been a reliable method for us in the past. I like it when you consider all the other forms of BC out there.

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  50. I had the Mirena, HATED it!! Got it 4 months after my second son was born, Breastfeeding only lasted 2 more months. I also felt like I could feel it but the doctors said 'No way' I don't believe them, it's my body I know what I can feel. When my husband and I decided we were going to have one more baby I got it out, thank goodness!!!! I now have the copper IUD. I haven't had any problems with milk supply, I can't feel it. So far it's been much better than the mirena. I had it put in about 8 weeks post partum.

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  51. It's also good to note that Dr Jack Newman receives emails everyday from breastfeeding mothers who noticed a drop in their supply after being fitted with the Mirena IUD. These are only the mothers who A) thought to email Dr Newman and B) made the connection between the two things. All the literature states that the progesterone only BCP and the Mirena IUD are compatible with breastfeeding but breastfeeding mum's should be aware that there is a risk to the milk supply. Dr Newman has started reporting every case we see in clinic with drop in supply after getting the Mirena IUD to the Health Canada Adverse Reactions Centre.

    Sadly, here the biggest reason that most people get the Mirena IUD is that it is covered by the drug plan and the copper one is not.

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  52. I have a copper IUD (ParaGard) and I love it. I've had it for about a year and a half.

    I guess after having two not-so-great experiences with hormonal BCPs, I thought I'd go for a hormone free route. IUDs were always appealing to me because they had a very high success rate and didn't require much upkeep like taking a pill or putting a ring in, etc. I never gave the Mirena much thought at all since it had hormones, so I opted for the Paragard.

    At one point, I thought it might be slipping because I swore I felt plastic, but I saw my NP later on and she said it was just fine and still in place.

    I had read that the Paragard could make periods heavier and more painful, but since I had relatively light periods in the first place, I thought I'd go ahead and give it a try. The first several cycles were pretty heavy, a little longer, and I had some cramping, but it wasn't anything that a couple ibuprofen couldn't handle. It's been about a year and a half since I got it, and my periods are pretty much back to the way they were before.

    Insertion didn't hurt all that badly for me. I took 4 ibuprofen before I went. I had about 4 days of bleeding and cramping, and then the bleeding stopped until my next period.

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  53. I had the ParaGard (the copper) IUD. I chose it because I didn't want anything hormonal in my body and we had issues ttc my daughter because of various previous hormonal birth control. This was my experience.

    First, getting it inserted w...asn't fun for me. BUT I have a very tilted uterus and cervix that is very high so they always have a hard time even finding my cervix. And they had a student midwife practice on me, for her first one ever, so it took about 5 times as long as it normally would. I've had friends say theirs were slightly uncomfortable but not too bad. I had it inserted at 8 weeks post partum. I spotted and bled on and off for 4 months when I called back my midwife. She then prescribed 1 month of low dose birth control pills to attempt to regulate me. It worked perfectly.

    After that I had my normal cycle. It was heavier than it was before but I didn't have any cramps. I never felt it and neither did my husband when we had sex. Personally I loved it once the spotting was done. When I had it removed I didn't even feel her take it out. We were pregnant the 2nd month after having my IUD removed and I'm almost 17 weeks along now with a healthy baby.

    Since this is our last child I'm thinking of going with the Mirena next time as I won't be so worried about the hormones in my body. The only thing I don't like about that idea is that the Mirena is only good for 5 years vs ParaGard which is good for 10. I do like the idea of no periods though like the Mirena can provide.

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  54. I have had both IUDs. I had the Copper IUD after my second child. It made my heavy periods and bad cramps go crazy. I bled constantly and had horrible cramps, so bad I couldn't function. After a year I had it removed.
    I had the Mirena inserted after our 4th child. I had tried various pills and seemed I was very sensitive to them. My doctor felt the Mirena was a good choice since it could slow my bleeding down. I researched it, a lot. I am very glad I chose the Mirena. It has not at all effected my breastfeeding. I am still nursing my daughter and she is 29 months old. The only thing I have had is a slight increase in acne. But compared to the heavy bleeding and severe cramping, I will take it. I haven't had a period since before she was conceived. It has been a blessing for me.

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  55. I had the Paraguard (copper) IUD for about 9 months in 2007 before getting it removed. I did not like it, but I suppose things could have been worse. I didn't have any extra cramping, but I did have very heavy, very long periods that lasted almost 2 weeks most months. I also had yeast infection like symptoms every month for about a week to a week and a half before my period. At first I thought it was recurring yeast infections, then thought maybe it was bacterial vaginosis (BV). I was treated for both, but it never helped. I soon realized that the IUD was the culprit, and decided to have it out. I have to say that as soon as my doctor removed the IUD, I felt instant relief! It was the oddest thing lol. I didn't even realize that I felt 'off' at that moment, until she took it out.

    The only other thing that I would say does bother me about the Paraguard IUD is the fact that you can still have an egg fertalized, but it just can't implant. I was on the fence about how I felt about this, until I got the IUD. I realized while I still had it that I was very uncomfortable with that, based on my personal beliefs. So, I would definitely say to really know how you feel about this before getting the Paraguard. (Had I had the Mirena this wouldn't have been an issue)

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  56. Sounds to me like the results are unique to each woman...

    I got the Mirena after I had my first child and it was awesome. Insertion was not painful and I had no milk supply issues. I had it removed to have my second child and I was pregnant within couple of weeks.

    I totally plan on getting another one inserted soon after I give birth.

    Getting an IUD works for me for so many reasons. My best advice is to research it out and see if it works for you :-)

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  57. I just had the Mirena inserted about 2 weeks ago and no problems so far. Insertion was easy (just a pinch and bad cramp and it was over) and some mild cramping for about 24 hours afterwards, that was it. Haven't noticed a drop in my milk supply, either (pump at work so know what my average output is). But again, it's been less than a month. Good to know about the potential affect on milk supply, too.

    Tiffany, I had mine put in at Planned Parenthood, call your local one and see if they can take yours out for you. I don't see why they wouldn't.

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  58. I had mirena inserted a couple of months after my daughter was born, when I was 23. I had suffered a severe pelvic injury as a teenager and so had a complicated pregnancy and delivery (emergency c-section after a long labor). My doctor said after the stress on my body she wanted me to wait at least a year before we tried to concieve again and she recommended an IUD.

    Insertion was about as uncomfortable as a pap smear (not pleasant but definitely tolerable) and I had some cramping for a couple of days afterward. I had this weird, continuous spotting for about 6 weeks which then decreased and went away by about 8 weeks. Once the spotting was gone I didn't have another noticeable period and never had a problem with it. No discomfort from the IUD itself, no problems during/after sex and my husband couldn't notice. I had it in nearly a year, then had it removed to try for another baby.


    I chose Mirena over Paraguard because I had always had heavy, very painful periods and didn't want them to get worse as the brochure said it might with Paraguard.

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  59. Leave God in control. Natural Family Planning is safe, effective, and EASY!
    check out ccli.org

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  60. I've had pretty meh experiences with both. Paraguard I got after my first child (about 5months PP) and it was not fun. I had terrible pain and my periods (which were already heavy) got worse. I had it pulled. After having my twins I had a Mirena and within DAYS I noticed a massive milk supply dip. I pulled it out and my supply went completely back to normal. I was about 6 or 7 months PP and exclusively bfing twins. This time I got a diaphram and it gave me UTIs, but I decided to try mirena at 13m pp to try to control my extremely heavy periods. So far my baby seems to be fine so I think my supply is not effected (although I'm only nursing one baby this time and he's much older) but I'm still in the early irregular bleeding stage. So far I'm not thrilled, but I'm hoping once my body adjusts I'll like it better. I am def moodier and much more short tempered, and I've had a 20 day long period. Here's hoping for little to no period this time next year :D.

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  61. I had a copper IUD inserted 5 years ago. It hurt, and it hurt with mid-cycle spotting for the next month or so. I found my bleeding heavier and more painful for about 3 months, but then things settled down and I got used to it. However, I think my periods were still different. It would come on a lot heavier, but maybe that's just my imagination.

    I had it removed last year when my husband and I decided to have a baby. I got pregnant immediately with my next cycle. I have two children from a previous relationship, and now a third. I'll definitely be getting another copper IUD.

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  62. I know this is an old post, but I decided to give my input.
    I've had Mirena since my son was 2 months old. He's just shy of 14 months old now.
    Insertion was rather painful when they grabbed my cervix to keep it in place, and I did bleed more than expected.
    I cramped for 3 days and bled for 5.5 weeks. Everything was fine at my 6 week check up.

    I've only felt my own strings once. My vagina is long and I have a tilted uterus. About once a month my husband and I hop in the shower and he feels for my strings. He's always been able to feel them.

    My periods are close to non existent now. I mostly get red/brown mucusy discharge and need to wear a pantie liner. When I get stressed I do get a period again but they're soooo light compared to my pre IUD periods.

    When we decide to have another, I'll definitely chose Mirena again for BC after birth

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  63. I got Mirena four weeks postpartum and it hurt due to not being fully healed internally from childbirth. At first I loved it and thought it was amazing, but the longer I had it the more things started to change. I did not have cycles on it, but I was not sure if it was due to the actual IUD or breastfeeding. I personally considered this a plus.

    Then I realized that it was affecting my milk supply, but with extra effort I was able to battle that side effect. Not a plus.

    Then I started to notice unexplained lower back pain, but I contributed that mostly to carrying two babies around. But, then I started to cramp and bleed after intercourse, but it was fairly minor, so I just dealt with it. I kept telling myself that the Mirena was great and since we did not want any more children our only option, so I just had to hang in there.

    When my daughter weaned suddenly things went from pretty good to terrible. Within a week of weaning my hormonal shift made the lower back pain worse, intercourse a nightmare, and I ended up getting a cough that was so bad I cracked my rib twice...all thanks to my Mirena IUD.

    Turns out that my cough, that lasted from early February until late May was caused by the Mirena making me susceptible to infection and my body's response to the foreign object. I was told that approximately 12% of those with a Mirena IUD have this happen and upper respiratory infections are now listed as a side effect. Within a few hours of having the Mirena removed my cough started to improve and was gone within a few days.

    The removal of the Mirena was worse then the insertion regarding level of pain. I actually had to take pain medication, which was shocking because I have given birth drug free and think I have a fairly high tolerance for pain. Upon removal it was discovered that the IUD had started to embed itself into my cervix, so a piece of tissue was torn away when it was removed (this was very painful).

    I actually brought my removed Mirena home with me, affixed tissue and all to show my hubby the culprit to my sudden ailments. The lower back pain, cramping, and bleeding I experienced were all most likely due it embedding and once it was gone all of these stopped too, just like my cough.

    All in all even though I thought Mirena was great in the beginning it turned out to not be a good option for me at all. I have friends that love it and recommend it, but having experienced the side effects of it I always tell people to do their homework and fully research it first. When I started to suspect that something was wrong with mine I found tons of informational forums online that I wish I had looked into before getting it in the first place.

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  64. Im curious how this work's after you give birth? In the article it states that they like to do it during your menstrual cycle as you are somewhat dilated....what about after birth? Can and will they do it before you leave the hospital if you have a hospital birth? or do they wait until you have healed up some?

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  65. @ Kitsu Tails: If you are going to get an IUD inserted, you want to have it done either at yout 6 week post partum appointment, 8-10 weeks post partum. The reason for this is that your uterus is still stretched out from pregnancy, and it is impossible to place the IUD properly until it is healed and shrunk down to its correct size. My doc advises waiting 8-10 weeks post partum before insertion, because he has had patients have it placed at 6 weeks and have it perforate because their uterus wasn't finished healing from birth.

    My experience: I am 26, one child. I got my IUD placed about a year and a half after her birth because I was undecided about our family planning. I have had my Mirena IUD for about a year and a half now. It was very painful when first inserted and for about a day or so afterward. I experienced some spotting, for the first 2-3 months and then my cycles were gone for about 9 months. Then they suddenly came back, and they are about 6 weeks apart with minimal bleeding. (Maybe a pantyliner for 2 days) No cramping.

    There has definitely been an increase in acne since having the IUD. I usually break out right before ovulation and right before my peroid. For the 9 months I described above, my skin was great and there was no PMS. Now that I have my cycles again, I have PMS for longer than without the IUD. My breasts hurt for about a week before, I'm emotional, and intolerant of practically everything. I also experience some minor to major back pain which I am not sure is related to the Mirena, but it does get worse during PMS times. It has gotten to the point where I am considering having it removed, which is just in time, because my DH and I are talking about trying for a second baby soon, so I am trying to stick thru it as long as possible until that decision is made. It has been the easiest birth control I have ever been on, as far as that you don't have to remember to take it. I'm not sure if I would have it again.

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  66. i experienced terrible anxiety on mirena,among other terrible side effects. I know it was the mirena- three days after i made them remove it after a year and a half- the tension and pressure in my chest disappeared. I had spent the first year and a half of my childs life wanting to scream. having terrible panic attacks at night which kept me awake from heart racing. It was not psychosomatic- i had no idea the hormones were responsible. I had it removed because i could not go three weeks without BV or a yeast infection. This was also due to the birth control.

    My sister had similar experience, but she had a pelvic infection that forced the removal of hers, she also had the bv and yeast.

    a cousin too- who lost one of her ovaries and a fallopian tube due to an ectopic pregnancy caused by mirena. i was the first to speak up about the anxiety it caused- but both agreed.

    I feel as tho misinformation robbed me of the bliss i could have experience with my son in his first year and a half.
    also stopped nursing very shortly after it was inserted- because of the anxiety attacks i had.

    I had no preconcieved notions about mirena and beleived my doc who said the complications were rare. when all the ppl i know who had one experienced serious problems- i seriously doubt the effectiveness of their study and the reporting measures they used to collect the data.

    Please consider another method.

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  67. Personally, I am very wary of IUDs.
    Copper or hormonal, at the end of the day it is a foreign object in the most personal part of your body.
    Despite the fact that me and birth control really don't get along, I have never even considered getting an IUD. Hormonal birth control of any kind causes me extreme side effects, I'm allergic to both latex and lanolin (which rules out both regular and sheepskin condoms), spermicides also cause an allergic reaction. I wouldn't dream of inserting anything anywhere, you look at my vagina the wrong way and it gets inflamed. I have a small fertility computer, its called Pearly, it tracks my cycle based on basal body temperature and I avoid sex on fertile days.

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  68. I had ParaGard inserted a few months before my wedding a little over 2 years ago and as far as birth control goes it was my favorite. Insertion hurt quite a bit and my periods were a little heavier, but that was a worthwhile trade-off for me to get highly effective birth control without hormones. Unfortunately about 10 months after insertion I became one of the rare women who conceives with an IUD in place! The first few weeks of pregnancy were scary... the OB who read my first ultrasound and removed the IUD went so far as to tell me it was about a 50/50 shot on carrying the pregnancy to term, and to come back in a month or if I started bleeding, whichever happened first. I'm happy to say that my little girl was born perfectly healthy! But after my experience, I always tell women who are considering or using an IUD to remember that no birth control other than abstinence is 100% effective. Please, ladies, listen to your body and pay attention to your cycle! My little family might not have had our happy ending if I hadn't realized my period was a bit late and taken a test. I'm struggling with the decision to get another IUD or not... does anyone happen to know the statistics on repeat IUD pregnancies?

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  69. At 37 and with a little one at home, I chose to get an IUD for BC. I do not care for the side effects of hormones and personally feel like they directly "mess with mother nature" which I don't think is a good idea. I had cramping after placement and immediately started my menses. My doctor never told me to check the "strings" (which are plastic), though my husband did complain about them. My monthly flow was much heavier for a few months and didn't get much lighter over time. About 11 months later, we decided to try to conceive another child.

    I had seen a lot of women online that felt their hormone IUD was making them crazy and they couldn't stand it. A lot of them removed their IUDs at home themselves. I am certain it is NOT recommended, but I did this as well. And it was EASY. It literally took me seconds. I was pregnant 6 months later.

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  70. I had the Mirena IUD inserted at 6 weeks postpartum with my first child after having been on the pill previously. I breastfeed without supply issues. I had my first period at 14 months postpartum, the lightest period ever. I had irregular spotting a few times over the next year without a regular period. After that I began to bleed more frequently and heavily and with blood clots which I have never had previously. After a few months of heavy bleeding and increasingly large blood clots I had my mirena removed.

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  71. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Copper IUD!!!

    My cervix will not contract (why I got 2 c-section scars) and I have to be "manually" contracted to get it in/out.. But the copper IUD i have now has been in place for just about 3 years and it will be there for 6 more years before I get a new one put in.

    The cramping was bearable. My peroids are normal. I go in once a year and with my Pap they check it.

    The promise of being able to get pregant as soon as I get the IUD out is the most appealing to my family. Should we decide to add to our family.

    With the copper IUD, I found no problems with my breastfeeding (tandum, and extended).

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  72. I do not respond well to hormone-based birth control methods, and have an allergy to latex as well as spermicides, so I felt that a hormone-free IUD was best for me. I had a copper IUD for 2.5 years and loved it. My former care provider suggested checking for the strings at the same time every month (or cycle), which I did. On December 9, 2010 I checked for my strings once again and they were in place, however by the end of December I had many signs of early pregnancy, checked again and the strings were gone. A week later I had a positive pregnancy test, and now am 36 weeks pregnant! My husband and I are truly thrilled, but I want other women to know that just because you check your strings, this doesn't mean that they will be there for the next month.

    My IUD must have come out (yes, it is possible even after 2.5 years) because multiple ultrasounds did not find it anywhere, but I never noticed it was gone. My midwife later told me that she has had multiple other patients who loose an IUD and have no idea when or where it came out (although it almost always happens during a menstrual period).
    I don't write this to "scare" anyone away from the use of IUDs, in fact after our child is born, I plan to have another copper IUD placed, but instead caution women to check their strings more frequently, and contact a healthcare provider if anything feels "different."

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  73. I had the paragard for a year and half and it failed and was in place.

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  74. i've had mirena for almost a year and i've had no problems and i really like it :)

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  75. Loved mine (copper) between #2 and #3. Getting another in the next couple of weeks. Insertion and removal was a breeze and had no problems with it.

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  76. I got ovarian cysts from mirena...and it fell out. Won't be doing that again...

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  77. ughhhhh ive had mirena come out and i think the second one is coming out as well. With the first one i had spotting and pain ALL the time. Idk if its really worth it

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  78. See I hear that the hormonal one has a lot more issues than the copper one....

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  79. I had a paragard copper IUD for 3 years. I just had it removed, as I was showing signs of copper toxicity. Also, some copper IUD's have nickel in them, which a lot of people are allergic to. But I would say that it's the least bad of all the birth controls I have used.

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  80. I had paragard twice. Once, I had it for 5 years, and the other time for just under 2 years. I only had them removed so I could have another baby. I loved it, though. I want to get another as soon as I get the money together for it. I'm using the mini-pill right now, and I strongly prefer an IUD. It is so much more convenient.

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  81. I have the paragard IUD, we have a love/hate relationship. I love it because it's non-hormonal & I don't have to think about. I hate it because I have random spotting, my bf can feel the strings from it, I have a lot of CM now, I worry I will get pregnant on it & I'm afraid something bad could happen from it, such as, infertility. The only reason I have it is because I'm a nursing student & can't get pregnant again while in school. :/

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  82. used the mirena for 18 months after my son....no issues no worries. i've nursed and am still nursing with no issues. i have PCOS so the hormones are already out of balance for me. i had it taken out and have only had 2 periods since december

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  83. I've had both the Mirena and the paragard. I do not respond well to any hormonal bc so I wasn't surprised when the Mirena turned me into a hormonal emotional mess. It also really thinned my hair and made me break out. I also constantly felt pregnant, swollen painful breasts. It sucked and I took it out really quickly. I had the paragard for 3 years and despite the stronger cramps and heavy flow it was the first bc that I stayed normal on. We took it out in September and I was pregnant by December. I would get it again if I needed bc.

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  84. I have a mirena and LOVE it. Have no more periods (just spotted for a few weeks after getting it) and insertion was painless (it was inserted at my 4 week postpartum check). As with any hormonal bc there are slight risks and not everyone's body agrees with it but I thought I'd try it and I'm so glad I did. Because I'm nursing there wasn't very many options and I wanted a reliable one (I've had tons of friends get pregnant with the "natural family planning method") that I didn't have to 'think' about.

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  85. i have a paraguard (the non-hormonal copper one), and it is positively fantastic!

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  86. I have had a copper IUD for fifteen months now, and for while no problems at all. And also no hormones! My sister also had it for five years no problems and when she had removed got pregnant in two months:)

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  87. I love my mirena! I've had it for about a year now.. no period. Love it. I'm not as moody too. I still get ovarian cysts, but I got those before I got the IUD, so I have no issues with it. I can't use most hormonal birth control since I have a heart condition, but this one works for me.

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  88. I have a mirena for the first time. I'm about to go in for my 6 week check to make sure it still looks good. I just realized why I'm bitchy lately and spotting a little. Duh, I'm suppose to be on my period. But I'm not really.. I like that part about it.

    My dr said some women get an iud instead of getting their tubes tied so they won't gave a period. My husband is weirded out about something implanted in me, and the strings are kind of weird for me but its nice not to have to take a pill. Also I live in Alaska and the mirena costs like 1000.00 dollars here. My co pay was 40.00 with my insurance for something that lasts 5 years, or a 35.00 co pay for a one month supply of pills. Seems pretty cost effective to me.

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  89. I've had both Mirena and Paragard. I HATED Mirena. It turned me into a nasty person. Completely emotional, irrational, stubborn (ok, so I'm stubborn by nature...pffft :p), and just all around unplesant. Thank the heavens my husband is still married to me ;) Oh, and I gained weight too. The only plus was lighter menses.

    I currently have Paragard, and while I sometimes get crampy, its been a dream. My periods aren't heavy at all, but our baby is still nursing, so that could be why. My husband can feel it during intercourse, but I don't think he really cares at that point ;) overall, I have no complaints about Paragard!

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  90. I had the cooper IUD placed 6 weeks after the birth of my first daughter. I have reactions to all hormonal birth control and it seemed to be the perfect solution. I was tested for pregnancy and it was placed before my uterus had returned to pre pregnancy size. This was where my problems began. The placement wasent painful, a few cramps then everything was fine for about a month. Then the pain started, i was in constant pain which i would equate to the contraction I had duing labor. After a month or so of the pain worsening i decided to go back to the Ob to find out why i was in so much pain. Her explanation was a bacterial infection mostlikley contracted during the placement and she gave me antibiotics for 10 days. Still in pain after the course of antibiotics i returned again to find out why i was so uncomfortable, i was told i had to option 1 to get an ultrasound to check placement of the IUD or 2 have it removed. I ad been on state insurance through my pregnany and postpardum care but it was over at 6 weeks so i decided just to have it removed. Apon removal the OB noted that the reason i was in pain was because all 3 sides of the "T" where touching the walls of my uterus and cervix because my uterus was not large enough to accommodate the IUD. Had i choose to leave it in it would have most likely lead to it becoming imbeded in my uterus resulting in surgery and possible infertility

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  91. I had Mirena for two years. I had it inserted before moving to Japan since it's difficult to get other forms of birth control (such as Nuvaring) here. I had never had children or been pregnant, but the doctor said that was fine. I am not an expert and will not pretend to be, but I will tell you my personal experience below.
    Insertion: EXTREMELY painful for about 12 hours
    Periods: light bleeding for 3-4 months and then no periods at all
    Acne: I noticed an increase in facial and body acne, but that could have also been caused by environmental factors from moving to Japan.
    Weight gain: I noticed an increase in weight gain, but that could have been caused by changes in diet from moving to Japan.
    Mood changes: no change from normal behavior
    Removal: relatively uneventful with 4-5 days of heavy bleeding about three days after removal, 14 days later light spotting for 2-3 days
    Ovulation Return: 44 days after removal (according to OPK)since we were trying to conceive
    Positive Pregnancy Test: 55 days after removal
    Spotting During Pregnancy: started 10 days after pregnancy test getting progressively worse
    Miscarriage: at 7 weeks

    I am in no way blaming Mirena for the miscarriage. I have no idea what caused it, and neither does my midwife in Japan. I will say that I wish I had waited to have at least one normal cycle after Mirena removal before trying to conceive. The doctor said that was unnecessary, but I think I would feel less guilty about the miscarriage if I had. I took red raspberry leaf, ate lots of vitamins, folate, and other good stuff for 90 days before the miscarriage, so I don't feel like it was a vitamin issue. I think it might have been due to a thin uterus without it having time to thicken up. Who knows.
    That's only my experience. I won't be getting a Mirena again though.

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  92. I had the Mirena inserted in March 2010 and gave birth to my daughter March 2011.. So pregnancy is possible lol.. I thought when my period was m.i.a. it was because of the hormones.. then my belly started to puff out and i took a hpt.. lol.. Needless to say it was the biggest waste of 400$lol

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  93. I had a terrible experience with the copper IUD, Paragard. I had it for several years after my first child, and grew progressively more swollen, exhausted, and uncomfortable physically and emotionally. I just assumed it was age, or the ordinary stresses of mothering. I would love to have those years with my daughter back.

    The day I had it removed, my swelling disappeared. My normally bony hands had looked puffy and 'boneless' for years! I lost 12 pounds that day. I could jog again comfortably, after years, and I could feel things, like tender kisses, or just the pleasure of lying on a soft bed. It was truly bizarre, and I wept with gratitude!

    I also concieved our second child, that night. :) Thankfully, he is whole and healthy.

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  94. I had a Mirena for a few years, and it caused a number of physical problems. I had a constant battle against bacterial vaginosis infections, digestive problems, horrible gall bladder pain, weight gain, acne. It was awful! I thought it was just me getting older, but over time began to suspect that the Mirena could be involved. I finally went in for yet another treatment of an infection and asked for my Mirena to be removed. I was already feeling better by the time I was driving home! My weight went down 3 lbs by the next morning and another 7 lbs in the following few weeks. My gall bladder pain (which my doctor said I would deal with for the rest of my life)was gone within a few days.

    A week later I went back for a Paragard, and have been thrilled with it. I wish I had known to be checked for a copper allergy before I had it inserted, since I'm very allergic to nickel, but it turns out copper isn't a problem for me. My period is longer, but I use a Lunette cup, so it's just a matter of emptying it one more time a day than I would have otherwise, which is no big deal.

    Insertion for me was comfortable. I have three children and used Hypnobabies for their births, so I simply used my Hypnobabies skills stay comfortable and it worked perfectly.

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  95. I had several friends with IUD's that loved them and recommended them, so I chose the Mirena IUD.
    I was still breastfeeding when I got mine inserted. It hurt going in. When I went for my follow-up weeks later, my doctor couldn't find it. She sent me for an ultrasound & didn't see it. She told me that my body must've expelled it. I didn't believe that, as I am very aware of what goes into (and comes out of!) my body. Plus, I just had a gut feeling that it was still inside of me. After reading a lot online, I asked her to please give me an X-ray. She agreed (probably just to appease me)and gave me the order for the X-ray. Lo and behold, you could clearly see the IUD in the X-ray. When she had inserted it, it perforated my uterus, which is why it didn't show up in the ultrasound! (If ever your doctor has told you it's expelled, insist on getting an X-ray just to make sure 100% because it can cause problems - scar tissue, etc. - if left in there.) I had to have a surgery to get it removed. The doctor said she's inserted hundreds and that this had never happened. But from what I've read online, if you're breastfeeding, you're softer on the inside so the doctor needs to not push as hard when inserting.

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  96. I've had the mirena twice and after hopefully having my 3rd child I will have it again.
    My 1st I had no problem and after 3 years I had practically no period, which for me is brilliant because they are horrendous - heavy bleeding and clots the size of my fist. I fell pregnant with my 2nd child on the 2nd month of trying. I did have to have an ultrasound to have it removed because the strings were cut short and I tilt to the side inside.
    I have recently had my 2nd mirena removed ttc again. I did have a few problem starting in January but over the past year I have lost a lot of weight, discovered a blood condition and had my gall bladder removed contributed to a lot of stress and break through bleeding, but it's been a nearly a month and I am pretty sure I am pregnant again.
    I love the mirena but research it as it's not for everyone.
    Mandy

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  97. I have used Mirena twice. It gas largely bee considered the only safe contraception for me because I had bilateral pulmonary cots at 26wks with my oldest child. I have never otherwaise had any pregnancy complications through three pregnancies and deliveries. I had the IUD placed very early after my first child (insurance issues forced it)- like 3 weeks after. I slowly bled for over 6 months straight. I had no weight issues and it was nice to not worry about a pill. I started to get acne that only worsened until I felt like I did at 15yrs old! I ended up on prescription acne meds that cost me more for copays than the pill would have out of pocket. I decided to get a tubal ligation but chickened out at the last minute. It took my skin 3 months to clear up. I was also pregnant with in 4 months. I used no contraception between baby two and three. After baby 3 born in Jan 2010 I had the mirena put in again. I now have weight gain and horrible acne. I feel its damaging to self esteem and wish there was another choice. I simply cannot risk another baby and I am too fearful of other suggestions like essure. I had maybe two short periods since I had my daughter, but I also breastfed for over a year. I dont feel it effected my BFing. So I have a love/hate relationship with my IUD- If a safe option w/o surgery or being a guinea pig testing a new product was available I would get rid of this thing in a heartbeat. I can not tell you enough how isolating it can be to not want to show your face in public.

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  98. I had the Mirena for over 3 years. Here's my experience:

    Cons:
    -Insertion (although brief) was EXTREMELY painful (maybe I'm just not good at handling pain, but oh boy it hurt!!).
    -I had cramping and spotting for 2 days immediately after insertion.
    -I developed ovarian cysts (which did NOT bother me at all, my GYN noticed them when she checked the IUDs position with ultrasound).

    Pros:
    -After the 2 days of mild cramping immediately after insertion, I had no pain or discomfort what so ever.
    -Mi periods got lighter and lighter, about 5 months after insertion they stopped. No more cramps, pms, nothing at all. I loved this!
    -No side effects (no acne, no weight gain, no emotional rollercoasters, no nothing).
    -No interference with sex life (I had my GYN cut the strings short)
    -No need to worry about taking pills or anything.
    -When my husband and I decided we were ready for kids, I got pregnant 3 weeks after removal, on my first cycle!!

    I'm considering going back to the Mirena after my baby is born, but I'm concerned it might interfere with breastfeeding. I'll ask my doc about it on my next visit.
    It worked great for me!!

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  99. I had a Mirena inserted in 1999 and had it removed in 2011. For 12 years, no problems, no periods, no worrying about contraception. For me it was great. I had it removed just to check whether I was still having periods (I am 50). Periods returned within weeks.

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  100. I had been on the pill for 15 years prior to getting married. Ultimately, I chose to stop taking it because being on the hormones for so long caused me to develop PMDD and I was subsequently put on Sarafem, which caused me to have migraines, for which I was put on another drug, which caused me to have acid reflux, for which I was put on another drug. After being on all of these medications for a short while, plus some allergy medication for allergies I developed in part due to PMDD, I decided to just stop taking it all. It seemed crazy that I was taking 5 different drugs, in addition to birth control, just to prevent pregnancy and live with the side effects of the hormones. It was the best decision of my life. I felt human again after years of feeling dead inside. Luckily for me, none of this prevented me from having 3 normal and planned pregnancies.

    After having children and facing the birth control issue once again, there was no way I was going to go back on the pill or opt for any other type of hormonal birth control, so, the copper IUD seemed like the best option. My sister had been on it for 5 years and had no complaints. So I had one put in. It was a little uncomfortable, but no worse than menstrual cramping or mild labor pain. It took a few months for my body to adjust, but I am about 9 months out from having it inserted. For a while I was having some spotting after intercourse. I do have a slightly longer period in that I have spotting both before and after, which essentially adds about 2 days to my period. I also have a little spotting during ovulation.

    When reading the insert from the Paragard package, I took note that 'they don't know' how it works, exactly. Some people believe that it prevents fertilization, some people believe that it prevents implantation, some people believe that it may cause abortion. The ethical concerns are obviously a personal issue that every woman needs to work out on her own and make her decision based on what feels right to her.

    My youngest was 2 1/2 when I had the Paragard inserted and we have continued our breastfeeding relationship just fine even to this day. I had it put in just one month after my period returned. I had a nice long run with lactational amenorrhea. I am satisfied with my Paragard experience and recommend it to any woman who may be researching her fertility control options.

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  101. I had a copper IUD for about 5 years after my son was born. The only problem with it was that during intercourse my husband, who is uncircumcised so presumably his glans is more sensitive than that of a circumcised man, could feel the ends of the strings coming out of my cervix as an irritation on his glans. It didn't exactly enhance our sex life.

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  102. I've had a copper IUD for about ten years. I found the insertion to be painful in the pinchy/twingy twangy/crampy way. I had very slight, occasional cramping for the rest of that day, which didn't disrupt my normal activities.

    My periods went from 3 light days to 6-9 moderate-heavy days for about 6 months, & remained at 5-7 moderate days for about 2 years. This was unfortunate for me because I have an extremely strong libido & my partner refused to have sex during my menstruation. :/

    At about four years my periods finally settled to 3-5 days & at 7 years they finally returned to 3 days. I had horrendous cramping the first day of my menstruation as a teenager, but haven't had any cramps at all since becoming vegetarian 27 years ago, before or since having an IUD.

    I believe the IUD was the right birth control method for me. I did take an iron supplement to prevent anemia, in the first couple years, although I've never been anemic in my life, even when I was vegan during my son's pregnancy & vegetarian during my daughter's.

    They need to make an IUD with copper AND extremely low levels of hormones to ease the bleeding & cramping during the first year.

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  103. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also, Thanks.

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