Let’s Talk About Contraception

We all know that all women want to use a contraceptive that is reliable, convenient and effective for them. The aim of this blog is to give you a better understanding of the “longer acting, reversible but not permanent” methods of contraception out there.

We all know that women need contraception through the period of their reproductive life until menopause. (This is two years after a woman’s last period if you are aged under 50, or one year if you are aged over 50).

Having worked with a sexual health clinic during my time in Scotland, I became more passionate about the subject of sexual health, contraceptive options and patient freedom to make those informed choices to suit their lifestyle.

There are several forms of contraception but our focus in this discussion is on  long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) and in particular on intrauterine devices also known as Coils. There is a big push from sexual health organisations to promote these methods over your traditional ‘pill contraceptives’ because the chances of failure and the risks of an unplanned pregnancy are much smaller.

They are more reliable and effective as they do not depend on you remembering to take them, in other words, the chances of human error are much smaller making these options more appealing to women.

So, how many kinds of LARCS are there?

  • The intrauterine system ( commonly known as the ‘hormone coil’ or Mirena )
  • The intrauterine device (commonly referred to as ‘the non hormone coil’ or copper Coil )
  • The 3-monthly contraceptive injection, called ‘The Depo’
  • The contraceptive implant, commonly referred to as ‘the Rod’

Today we will chat briefly about The hormone coil (IUS)  and the copper coil (IUD)

So, what exactly is copper coil or an IUD?

It’s a plastic and copper device put inside your uterus ( by a trained professional).

Benefits:

  • An IUD offers contraception for 5 or 10 years, depending on the type. If you’re 40 or older when the IUD is fitted, it will work for contraception until menopause.
  • Hormone free!
  • Easily reversible, so you can have it removed at any time if you wish to become pregnant.
  • Not affected by the use of other medications

Side effects:

  • Possible heavier, crampier bleeding
  • Offers no protection against STIs ( sexually transmitted infections) so you may need to use condoms

What is a Mirena? Is it better than the Copper coil?

Compared with the copper coil, the Mirena on the other hand is a small T-shaped plastic device that is put into your uterus (womb) which releases a progesterone hormone. This is similar to the natural progesterone that women produce in their ovaries.

Benefits:

  • Mirena is a hormone-releasing Coil that is over 99% effective at preventing a pregnancy for up to 5 years.
  • periods are much lighter and may even stop completely after the first year of use. It can help with painful conditions such as endometriosis or women with heavy painful cycles**
  • The Mirena can be used whether or not you have given birth
  • Safe in breast feeding mums 
  • Easily reversible, so you can have it removed at any time if you wish to become pregnant.
  • You may consider the Mirena if you have been advised that other oestrogen containing methods such as the ‘combined pill, are not safe for you.
  • The IUD is also not affected by other medicines
  • Cost effective

After you have had the Mirena fitted, I recommended that you should return for a follow-up visit at the 6 week mark to see how you are doing.

So, what are the Drawbacks?

  • Your periods may change (a small number of women may get spotting or irregular cycles but this will usually settle in about 3 months time)
  • Some women complain of acne, headaches mood change and breast tenderness. These are common hormone related side effects which may settle with time
  • A Mirena does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you may need to use condoms

If  the Mirena or The Copper coil is the right contraceptive for you then you may discuss this further with your health practitioner.

Our friendly and qualified team at The Station offer Mirena and IUD insertions.

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Useful links:

http://www.fpv.org.au/

http://familyplanningallianceaustralia.org.au/

https://www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/your-guide-contraception

http://www.mirena.com/en/public/contraceptive-choices-and-options/index.php

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