Just the Tips: ReproCo

By MEGAN HOWE

Guest Columnist

[email protected]

 

My friend raves about her IUD and says that I should get one too. What is an IUD? Is it expensive?

           -R

 

Great question! Everyone needs to know about this unique option.

An intrauterine device, commonly known as the IUD, is a small “T-shaped” form of birth control that is inserted into the uterus by a health care provider. An IUD can be effective for several years at a time, depending on the type. There are currently two types of IUDs available in the US—copper and hormonal.

The copper option, ParaGard, is particularly exciting. It is effective for 12 years and it also doesn’t affect a woman’s hormone levels, making it great for women who have had problems with hormonal birth control in the past (oral birth control, for example, i.e. “the pill”). Too many women know of the frustrating side effects that can result from the adjustment of hormone levels, such as decreased libido or potentially horrible mood swings. This option is also great for anyone who cannot take hormonal birth control for health reasons or because the hormonal fluctuations could conflict in a potentially harmful manner with any other prescriptions. However, longer periods have been associated with ParaGard.

There are also benefits to the hormonal IUD, it’s all about what’s right for you. There are two brands available. Mirena (effective for five years) and Skyla (effective for three years). Skyla is the smallest available option. A huge perk of the hormonal IUD, as with other hormonal birth controls, is that it can reduce period cramps and make periods up to 90 percent lighter (or even stop altogether). With this option, women still get the long-term, hassle-free aspect of an IUD, but also  some of the common positives that are associated with hormonal birth control.

The IUD is one of the most inexpensive long-term forms of birth control available when understood as a long-term investment. Costs for the IUD and for its insertion are payed at the beginning of the process rather than as ongoing fees. It is important to remember that although costs can initially range from $500 to $1000 (also greatly dependent upon insurance), this is actually up to twelve years of birth control coverage. Let’s do the math: $1000 divided by 12 years is a little over $83 per year, which is about $7 per month in birth control costs.

A few things to keep in mind: an IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Also, cramping and mild pain are common for a few days after insertion. While it is rare, the IUD can partially or completely slip out of place and put the woman at risk for pregnancy. In this case it must be removed and reinserted by a health care provider.

The IUD is inexpensive as a long-term investment and 99 percent reliable, giving women and couples one less thing to worry about. This is a great alternative to the pill, but it may or may not suit your personal needs. Talk to your doctor to discuss your birth control options to see what is right for you.

If you have any other questions feel free to email the ReproCo board at [email protected] or come to our weekly meetings which are held in McKinley’s private dining on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.