What's all the hype about the MIRENA IUD?

The Mirena IUD is a relatively new IUD, (Intrauterine Device), with the stem of the IUD impregnated with levonorgestrel, the progestin hormone found in many birth control pills. It is an extremely effective, very low maintenance, long lasting form of birth control. Once inserted, it is immediately effective, and lasts for 5 years. It is ideal for insertion when breast feeding, avoiding most of the initial side effects. "What side effects?" you ask. Well, the mirena has the potential to completely eliminate your periods. This is accomplished by the high hormone concentrations in the uterus itself. The lining of the uterus gradually thins to the point that it no longer bleeds. The thinning of the lining is accomplished by bleeding it down to its thinnest possible thickness. When you are breast feeding the lining is already thin, and the "break in" time is very short. If you are not breast feeding, the bleed down period can be two to three months. What does that mean? Well, you may bleed irregularly for two to three months. Sounds terrible. However, this is similar to what can happen with other hormonal methods such as birth control pills or depoprovera (the shot). Once you get through this time, many women will have either very light periods or no periods at all! "Is that healthy?" Yes. Bleeding represents failure to conceive, and the body preparing for the next cycle, attempting to conceive again. The bleeding with your period is not cleansing the uterus, and the lost blood wastes iron from your body. Imagine.... 5 years with no periods. Your ovaries continue to make your normal hormones, but the strong effect of the IUD directly on the uterus prevents bleeding. "How likely am I to really have no periods?" Most women will have only very light occassional bleeding. This is more likely if you are relatively thin. Heavier women make more estrogen, and are less likely to have complete absence of periods. "Sounds too good to be true." It may be too much to expect. Some women will have pain from the presence of the IUD, which is a foreign body in the uterus. If you have exposure to more than one sexual partner, the risk of infection in the uterus and tubes may be increased. Women with Bacterial Vaginosis (see "What is Bacterial Vaginosis") may have more problems with bleeding and pain. A serious infection could make it harder for you to get pregnant. If you get pregnant with the IUD in place, you are more likely to have a tubal preganacy. Some women will absorb enough of the hormone from the IUD to have mild side effects such as oily skin or acne, breast tenderness, or moodiness. Sometimes the irregular bleeding persists and women just give up on the IUD. Revoval of the IUD, like insertion, is short office procedure performed through a speculum, like a pap smear. The insertion can cause painful cramping, so it is good to take ibuprofen prior to coming in for insertion. If you are not breast feeding, the IUD is inserted while you are on your period. Fertility returns immediately after removal of the Mirena, unlike the shot, which may take up to one year to return to normal. In summary, the Mirena is not a perfect product, it takes a committment to the method to get through the initial break in time. But if you are the right candidate, and you make it through the first 3 months, it can be a life changing method. Freedom from pregnancy, nothing to remember to do each day, and hopefully, few if any periods. You may want to visit Mirena's web site for information.

Patient Education

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Many women will have an abnormal pap smear result at some point in their life. If you have had an abnormal pap smear, you will generally need to have a follow up pap smear within 6 months.  Potential results of a follow up pap smear are: - Your follow up pap smear... Read More

Hereditary Cancer Syndrome Screening Information

Anyone can be at increased risk for cancer based on their family history. This is especially true for certain types of cancers such as: breast, ovary, colon, endometrium (uterine), pancreas, and melanoma. The more unusual the timing of the cancer (early age onset) or prevalence within a family, the higher... Read More

Having your baby at Methodist Mansfield

Methodist Mansfield is a great place to have your baby. Dr. Daum delivered the first baby at Methodist Mansfield on December 26th, 2006. Since that day the hospital has grown, but retains the small hospital feeling that many women enjoy. The NICU is now considered a level III A nursery,... Read More

American College of ObGYN Patient Information Website

The American College of ObGYN (ACOG) is the governing body for ObGYN doctors in America. They have created a very informative and helpful patient information page that covers a wide variety of topics for patients. If you have any questions about women's health, this website is a great resource. If... Read More

Am I in Labor?

Labor at term is about trying to decide if it is time to go to the hospital. If it is timed properly, it will prevent frustrating visits to the hospital which result in going back home. Many women have described a  contraction as "The baby balls up". What is really... Read More

Pregnant! What not to eat.

You have probably heard that there are foods that should be avoided during pregnancy. Most of the restrictions are directed at avoiding mercury which has gotten concentrated in fish. The fish to be avoided are the predatory fish from the ocean, and include tuna, shark, mackerel, and salmon. In fact, most fish should... Read More

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