Here’s What Your Female Patients Need to Know About IUD Options in 2020
As a medical professional, you know the statistics on IUDs. They’re statistically more effective than most other forms of contraceptives, boasting a 99% success rate in preventing pregnancy. Unfortunately, misinformation regarding IUDs can make patients apprehensive about insertion. Knowing how to communicate with your patients about their IUD options can help you make them feel comfortable with their birth control decision. In this guide, we’ll offer you easily-digestible information on the top 5 IUD options in the country. This information helps patients make an educated decision about their reproductive health this year.
What We Know About IUDs
There’s a lot of misinformation about IUDs, and a lot of horror stories regarding the long-term effects of IUDs. Many of these horror stories are worst-case scenarios. Here are the statistics regarding the complications women are apprehensive about before getting IUDs inserted:
- Fewer than 10% of women will experience their IUD falling out of place, with some estimates as low as 0.5%. Sexual partners should be able to feel the strings on the IUD and can check the IUD’s placement before intercourse if they’re worried about it.
- The scariest complication of IUDs—the risk of the IUD puncturing the uterine wall—is also extremely rare, occurring in 0.1% of women.
However, the best part of having an IUD is the fact that they are effective over long periods of time but can easily be removed if and when a woman decides to start trying for a baby. The procedure to have an IUD inserted is a brief outpatient procedure, and it’s no more invasive than a gynecological exam.
While some women find the insertion process to be painful, the procedure takes less than half an hour to perform and lingering pain that day is no worse than typical menstrual cramping. The benefits of an IUD is that, unlike condoms or the pill, no one has to remember the contraceptive on a regular basis. Once an IUD has been inserted, it’s effective for several years.
There are a number of IUD options on the market. The five most common brands are ParaGard, Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena, and Skyla. Though all five brands look similar—a small T-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted in the uterus—there are subtle differences between them that can make some options better than others depending on a woman’s specific needs. Here’s what you need to know about these brands.
This copper-covered IUD is the only non-hormonal IUD available in the United States. Instead of relying on estrogen or progesterone to prevent pregnancy, the ParaGard IUD is wrapped in copper. The inflammatory response the copper causes to a woman’s body prevents the sperm from making it through the cervix. Any sperm that does make it through the cervix is neutralized by the copper before making it to the egg.
The biggest advantage ParaGard has is that it’s non-hormonal. This means that women with blood clotting disorders or other medical complications can safely use ParaGard when other birth control options aren’t viable to them. ParaGard also lasts longer than many other birth control options and can be safely left in for up to 10 years. This makes it an advantageous birth control option for women who aren’t planning to have children any time soon.
Unlike hormonal IUDs, ParaGard does not decrease a woman’s flow. In fact, the inflammation caused by the copper can make cramping and menstrual bleeding worse, not better.
Mirena is a progesterone IUD that works by thickening a woman’s vaginal mucus and thinning the uterine lining. Of the five top IUDs in the United States, Mirena has the highest hormonal level.
One of the greatest advantages to Mirena is that the high hormone level usually reduces a woman’s period quite a bit. In fact, many women using a Mirena IUD have no period at all. Additionally, the Mirena IUD lasts up to 5 years, which is a good length of time for many women who don’t want a child currently but may want one in the future.
Nausea and mood changes are common side effects to all hormonal IUDs. The high levels of hormones in Mirena can make these symptoms worse. Additionally, hormonal IUDs are associated with an increased risk of ovarian cysts in women.
Developed as a budget-friendly alternative to Mirena, Liletta is a popular IUD option at many free clinics. It has slightly less progesterone than Mirena.
Price is the biggest advantage of Liletta, making it a popular choice for women with no insurance or with insurance that doesn’t cover IUDs.
Like with Mirena, Liletta can cause nausea, mood changes, and an increased risk of ovarian cysts. Additionally, it’s slightly less effective than Mirena, only lasting 4 years before needing to be replaced.
Kyleena has the second-lowest dose of progesterone on the market. While it’s still an effective IUD, side effects tend to be less significant than with Mirena or Liletta.
Like Mirena, Kyleena lasts up to five years. However, the lower dose of progesterone often means that women with Kyleena will still experience some form of period on a monthly basis.
Just like all hormonal IUDs, Kyleena can cause nausea, mood swings, and increased risk of ovarian cysts. However, these side effects are less pronounced than with Mirena or Liletta due to the smaller hormonal dose.
Of all the hormonal IUDs on the market, Skyla has the lowest dose of progesterone.
The smallest of all the IUDs, Skyla is easier to insert than other IUDs on the market, which can make it a more comfortable procedure for a woman with a small cervix. Additionally, significantly lower levels of progesterone mean that Skyla allows women to have their periods while lessening their side effects.
The biggest disadvantage of Skyla is that it needs to be replaced every 3 years, meaning that it’s not as effective as a long-term birth control solution as other IUDs. Additionally, while the side effects are often not as pronounced as with other progesterone IUDs, Skyla does still carry a risk of nausea, mood swings, and ovarian cysts.
Learn More About IUD Options
When dealing with women’s fertility health, the best thing you can do as a medical practitioner is to educate your patients. Providing accurate, comprehensive information about their IUD options can allow your patients to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. Once a patient has chosen the right IUD for their individual needs, obp’s IUD insertion kit can help you safely insert their IUD, preventing cross-contamination in the process.