A reader writes:
I want to point out that not only are IUDs effective, they are also cost-effective. This is especially true for the ones laced with progesterone (Mirena) that offer a combined physical barrier and hormone method of contraception, making it human-error proof. I'm a little surprised and unsure why they haven't picked up as much popularity as the pill or other contraceptives.
I used Mirena for approximately six months. I was probably in the minority of users, opting for Mirena before having children and basically using it as a pill substitute. Every minute Mirena was in my body was nerve-wracking – and I'm not even an anxious person! I did a fair amount of research prior to insertion and thought I was prepared for all that it entailed, but that was very much not the case.
For starters, I did not get my period once during the six months. I think the statistic is 30% of women never menstruate with Mirena. I assumed I would not be in this minority – big mistake!. Lots of nightmares/morning-after pills later, I just about had it. Also during this time, my skin looked like I just turned 16. As exciting as that sounds, it was the last straw for me, so I saw my doctor to have it removed.
But after 2 NPs and 1 MD couldn't find my Mirena after extensive probing/blind stabbing with those blunt scissory things, I got really worried. Had it fallen out? Could I be pregnant because the Mirena never latched? Did my body eat my Mirena?! One more Doctor took a stab – literally! – and found the IUD in a weird spot (it was still "effective" but didn't take where it normally latches on, plus the cords were tangled and short) and removed it without incident. Back to the pill I went, and there I've stayed ever since.
I'd love to see a pill evolve to be weekly/monthly/even yearly, as I highly doubt I'll ever put an IUD in my body again.
Thanks for supporting a discussion on contraception for women. Yes, there were well-publicized defects/hazards/litigation surrounding the Dalkon Shield. But we can't assume that all other devices are harmless. There is a big difference between IUDs that work by the nature of their shape and placement, and those that secrete hormones, like the Mirena. I can't go into all the concerns women are having about the side effects, but there are a lot. Do a search on "Mirena support forums" to see some of the extent of it. Virginia Hopkins has short article that gives a good overview.