Hidden Secret Of Birth Control

Mar 07, 2012 1 Comment by

Looking for an easy-to-use, virtually foolproof method? This often-overlooked option may fit the bill.

The Pill is by far the most commonly used type of birth control in America, but elsewhere in the world it gets serious competition from the tiny T-shaped intrauterine device (IUD). In Norway, for example, 27 percent of women use one; in the United States, a meager 6 percent do. Blame its lack of popularity stateside on the Dalkon Shield, a flawed in IUD that, in the 1970s, caused pelvic infections in hundreds of thousands of women-some of whom became infertile.

Although that model was withdrawn from the market nearly 40 years ago, the stigma lingered until just recently. Last summer, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologist decreed that IUD is among “the most effective forms of reversible contraception available and is safe for use by almost all reproductive-age women.” Here are five reasons why you might want to consider one.

mirena IUD

1. It’s Safe.

Some docs used to advise against the IUD for women who wanted to conceive in the future, as it was thought to increase their chances of developing pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a condition that can lead to infertility. Your risk does increase slightly during the first week after insertion, but if you’re in a monogamous relationship, you really don’t have to worry. “PID results from a sexually transmitted disease like chlamydia,” says Laura E. Riley, M.D., director of labor and delivery at Massachusetts General Hosiptal in Boston. If you have multiple partners and decide to go for an IUD, be sure to use condoms as well.

2. It’s Reliable.

The only birth control methods with a higher success rate are permanent: tubal ligation for you or a vasectomy for you guy. Less than one woman in 100 who has an IUD gets pregnant – easily beating the Pill, which yields two to nine unintended pregnancies per 100 users. There’s less room for human error, explains Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Yale School of Medicine. “With an IUD, you don’t have to remember to do something every day.”

3. It’s Convenient.

You do need to see your ob-gyn to have the IUD inserted, but it’s a quick procedure performed during a regular office visit. Many women say they feel a quick twinge or PMS-like cramping, which can last for several days; other report that getting an IUD put in really hurts. “It can be more uncomfortable if you haven’t had kids, because your cervix is narrower”, says Minkin. As a precaution, take ibuprofen first and keep in mind that any pain is short-lived. After a follow-up six weeks later, you can forget about birth control for five to 10 years (depending on the type of device)-but you can also opt to have it removed anytime you want.

paragard IUD

4. It’s Suited To Your Needs.

There are two IUD models to choose from. The first, Mirena, lats up to five years and works by releasing hormone progestin, which prevents sperm from reaching the uterus. It’s often recommended for women who suffer from heavy periods because it can lighten them dramatically. If you can’t or don’t want to take hormones, there’s ParaGard (above). This copper device, which lasts up to 10 years, works by creating an environment inhospitable to sperm. Talk to your M.D. to find to find the right one for you.

5. It’s Cost-Effective.

Mirena and ParaGard are comparable in price, ranging from $500 to $1,000, though insurance often covers the cost. If you do have to pay out of pocket, it could still end up being less expensive in the monthly Pill prescription.

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