Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Sometimes gals who frequent this blog send me emails seeking more information on a topic or tidbit a post referenced. I'm quite sure that when these inquiring readers get my response they regret their email because what they receive in return looks like an eight part treatise that they know they'll have to sacrifice making dinner for the fam in order to read in entirety.

After composing my most recent IUD inquiry, it occurred to me that I should just post the response and if I get further questions I can just send over the URL to this longer response. Save myself a little time. (Not that I'm not happy to write the replies; I have just found that I've rewritten the same reply a few times.)

The question: Why did I go with the copper (ParaGuard) IUD as opposed to the plastic, hormone-secreting Mirena IUD?

A few reasons I'm pro-copper (for my own little cervix):

• With the copper IUD patients don't lose their periods. With Mirena, due to the progesterone it secretes, a patient could lose their period altogether or have it greatly reduced. That sounds lovely, I know, but although that time of the month is just plain rotten I'd rather have my monthly red reminder; it's a sign that I'm not pregnant and that the prevention I'm using is working.

• ParaGuard offers 10 years of protection rather than Mirena's 5 (or 7, depending on who you ask, but the FDA has only approved 5 years). I've had my ParaGuard for 7 years and I love that I didn't have to have it replaced two years ago.

No hormones. The copper in the ParaGuard IUD is what prevents fertilization and/or implantation, while Mirena secretes 20 mcg (micrograms) of progesterone every day. Even though progesterone is widely considered a "better" hormone to have a little extra of in your body than estrogen, my body makes plenty of hormones and I don't need to add to it.

Often women break out when they first get their Mirena, and I think I do a great job a making blemishes on my own as well. I know two gals who had a Mirena placed and then had it taken out when their skin exploded. A good friend has one now and just made an appointment to get hers out because of the same skin problem. Each of these women (a small sampling, I realize) are in very different stages in their lives and each has experienced the same problem.

That's why I'm a three-cheers-for-ParaGuard! chick.

There are a few caveats I'd be remiss if I didn't tell you about though:

With the ParaGuard IUD patients' periods don't only stick around, they can be heavier for the first six months or after placement. And, in my case, my cycle remains erratic. (But that randomness is common with all types of IUDs. When I go in for my annual and the nurse asks when the first day of my last period was, I always respond, I haven't a clue. She gives me a strange look. Then she asks my birth control method. I tell her IUD and she then nods her head in understanding.)

My period does come monthly, but I'm never sure just when in the month it'll drop in for a few days. But do know that in my case, it's not like the flow starts and I find myself up a creek without a tampon; there are are the same signs that I'm about to have my pleasant time of the month.

Additionally, with ParaGuard the cramping is worse. I'd never experienced cramps before I had my ParaGuard placed, but since that day my periods have been peppered with cramping. They are worse some months than others.

So although I get more cramps and have had a heavier, more erratic period, I love the ParaGuard because my skin stays the same (with the minor monthly upsets and punishment when I neglect to wash my face properly), my mood is unaltered by any additional hormones, and my period is a great reminder that I'm not pregnant. Whenever I am feeling cramps and realize that I essentially made the choice to get them, I just remind myself that the pain of cramps is much less than the pain of unplanned, unintentional child-rearing.


Jaime Stephens said...

Thanks for that info.. I have the mirena but I sure was not educated from the Docs office..

Jessica said...

i've heard similar things about the copper. still freaks me out to have a foreign object inserted in my body to stay...

Megan said...

Just consider it your very best friend come to stay.

Jessica said...

well, when you put it that way...

i do agree with you about the hormone thing though. why would i want more?

[Morgan] said...

i have the progesterone shot every 3 months. i have it because it fixes some ridiculous health problems, which is grand. BUT, my skin? HORRIBLE. it sucks. it's so bad sometimes i want to hide and cry. i totally understand it being a reason to pull that iud baby out!
my doc was really pro mirena. i asked about the copper and she shut it down without even telling me why. i just received better info via your blog than my own gyno. dang.

Megan said...

Morgan, please don't count my drivel as any kind of valuable medical expertise. I'm just a girl who has as unreasonable love for her method of birth control. When I initially chose mine the doc didn't want to give me the copper IUD 'cause I'd not yet had kids and they generally push Mirena for those pts., but I made a case for 10 years of protection and ended up getting what I wanted.

Misti said...

I've been on the pill, various kinds, for 11 years. I usually have mild cramps and it isn't a big deal, though I do blame some wacky hormonal crap on them. I just started a generic brand of Seasonale, and so far I am loving it! I did contemplate the IUD after seeing a previous post here, but I'll stick with what I know for now.

[Morgan] said...

megan, for sure. although testimonials from one's experience are often better than, or at least equal to medical expertise. at least in my own opinion. from my own experience:)
i just meant that this kind of info i like to hear when weighing my options. you know?
seriously 10 years protection? that's insane. not as in, you're insane. but, insane that something so small and simple can be effective for that amount of time!
and, now i'm going to have to read up. because i understood that it was the mirena (w/progesterone and the stopping of the period) was the one to worry about if you were planning to have children, or more children. no? because it can mess with your natural cycle and your body can take a long time to get back to normal once it's removed, much like the shot method?

wow sorry. honestly, an iud isn't even an option for me, so i'm not sure why i'm so interested.
or why i'm leaving such a long comment for that matter.


Megan said...

Morgan, I certainly wouldn't accuse you of mistaking my musings, etc. for real information; it's just that, with my job, I am so accustomed to speaking in an official sales capacity that when I say something medical outside that realm I feel that I need to make sure no one thinks that I see myself as an expert of any sort. For the only thing I am most positively an expert in is gab.

And I really am not sure about the time-to-fertility once the Mirena's removed, but I know that with the ParaGuard I am essentially immediately fertile.

And Misti, I say you should absolutely do what you feel is right for you, but I'd also encourage you to take a close look at the IUD; it's not for all, but I love mine so much that I can't help but spread the Good Word.

[Morgan] said...

ah i see, i read about your doctor discouraging it because you haven't yet had children and automatically assumed that was because of what iud's, the mirena specifically, can do to a cycle and one's fertility, i wasn't thinking about the long term benefits of the copper being the reasoning of your doctor discouraging it. that's why i was wondering about the iud's and their "post use fertility" in comparison. sorry to be confusing!
and i like your gab expertise. i really do.

Carina said...

I use the copper ParaGuard as well.

Yay! Now you all know!

Here's the truth: I've tried all the forms of hormonal BC and they all sucked monkey brains. I did the progesterone shots and I gained 60 pounds, lost hair, and was unable to get pregnant. I did regular BC and thought I had gone insane. I did the mini progesterone pill, which I am convinced deepened my PPD and contributed to a year of my life lost.
A diaphragm wasn't an option (a story that must be told in real life.)

The only option was the ParaGuard. I didn't even want to mess with the Mirena because even minute traces of progesterone MAKE ME A ZOMBIE.

I have regular periods, the cramping was terrible for the first six months, but I've been relatively pleased. I'd recommend ParaGuard as well, especially for those of you who can't do hormones.