IUDs and the Mirena Coil
How IUDs Work
The intrauterine device (IUD) and the Mirena coil, which is an intrauterine system (IUS) that incorporates a coil plus infusion of a progesterone-like hormone (levonorgestrel), are popular forms of birth control for many women. IUDs are long-lasting and reversible; however they are not barrier methods of contraception which means you are not protected from STDs or other types of infections.
An IUD stops sperm from reaching the egg by releasing copper into the womb and fallopian tubes. The release of copper changes the chemical makeup of the fluids in the uterus and the changes prevent sperm from fertilizing the egg. An IUD can cause heavier periods.
The Mirena works differently than an IUD in that it releases a hormone that counteracts the flow of estrogen and reduces the bleeding of menses by preventing endometrial growth as it thickens the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for the sperm to reach the egg to fertilize it.
Risks Associated with IUDs and Mirena
As with all things, there are risks involved with IUDs and with the Mirena coil. Risks associated with the Mirena and with IUD coils include:
· Ectopic pregnancy - half of all pregnancies that occur with Mirena are ectopic
· Intrauterine Pregnancy - can happen and the coil must be removed. During the removal process a miscarriage may occur. If the pregnancy has advanced the fetus may have to be aborted because it has grown around the IUS. A septic abortion may occur because of an infection in a pregnant woman with an IUD. It can result in septic shock or death.
· Pelvic Inflammatory Disease - can lead to infertility, hysterectomy or death
· Irregular bleeding - the Mirena can cause spotting and other irregular and heavy bleeding patterns. After six months the bleeding decreases in most women. IUD users may experience heavy bleeding regularly throughout the use of the coil.
· Embedment can happen with both the Mirena and IUD. When the coil becomes embedded in the walls of the uterus, pregnancy risk is increased. Depending upon how deeply it is buried, it may have to be surgically removed.
· Perforation - a puncture or perforation of the uterus wall or cervix during the insertion process is possible, however, it won't be detected right away. A perforation can cause the IUD to move outside the uterus and require surgical removal.
Another concern for IUD users is the occurrence of bacterial vaginosis (BV). BV is associated with an imbalance of good and harmful bacteria within a woman's vagina. Several factors come into play that helps the harmful bacteria to increase, such as increased sexual intercourse or more sexual partners, douching and IUDs.
Bacterial vaginosis IUD complications occur when the use of an IUD introduces bacteria into the female reproductive tract triggering an infection. BV infections are more common among women with IUDs than any other group.
The best way to deal with bacterial vaginosis infections, especially when they recur, is to have the IUD removed. Although there is no proof that an IUD causes bacterial vaginosis, the numbers of women with IUDs who become infected is enough to create an association. Treatment with antibiotics is the usual route; however, the use of antibiotics does not guarantee the infections won't come back. Often natural treatments can work very effectively in treating BV, and there are no side effects.
Mirena and Yeast Infection
One of the most common side effects of the Mirena coil is yeast infections, which differs from bacterial vaginosis. Yeast infections are very unpleasant and uncomfortable. There is a relatively effective treatment for Candida yeast infection caused by Mirena coil side effects that is called immunotherapy. The woman is not to eat any foods that contain yeast and sugars and is given an allergenic substance by drops or injection to enhance the immune capabilities of her body.
Yeast infections are very hard to get rid of once they're established and many women choose to have the Mirena removed in order to rid them entirely of the infection.
Mirena and other types of IUDs are effective against pregnancy. There are other types of birth control available that are non-invasive and effective. Read about them in this section.