21 April, 2023

Is an Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) the right form of contraception for you?

Choosing the most suitable contraception is a unique decision that is best made together with your general practitioner (GP) based on your individual circumstances. Factors to consider include a contraceptive’s effectiveness, tolerability/ side effects, mode and frequency of delivery of the contraception, reversibility, duration of action, risks, and potential interactions with other medications or conditions.

Mirena and Kyleena are the names given to 2 types of hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) that are commonly used for contraception. Both are small, T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. This occurs by thickening the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from penetrating the uterine cavity, as well as thinning the lining of the uterus, thereby creating a hostile environment for implantation. They can also interfere with ovulation.

These IUDs are highly effective (99.7%) at preventing pregnancy, exceeding the reliability of the oral contraceptive pill. They are also long-acting, being effective for 5 years with rapid return to normal fertility following their removal.

In addition to being effective and long-lasting, Mirena and Kyleena also have the advantage of being oestrogen free, with only very low doses of progesterone. This means lower risks of venous blood clots, less migraines, and safer for use in women at higher risk of breast cancer. They are also highly effective at reducing or supressing altogether menstrual bleeding, being an enormous benefit for women with very heavy or painful periods.

However, like all forms of contraception, Mirena and Kyleena have some potential drawbacks. Unlike condoms, they do not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  In some, where bleeding suppression is not complete, irregular bleeding and cramping can be persistent and unpredictable. Other progesterone related side effects may include acne, breast tenderness and weight gain.

Insertion of the Mirena and Kyleena involves a minor procedure, which can be performed by specially trained GPs at Airlie Women’s Clinic. The insertion involves depositing the IUD via the cervical canal into the uterus using an insertion kit that makes for a safe and simple insertion. The risk of infection related to the insertion procedure is very low. Once inserted, period like cramping can be experienced for 24-48 hours. Irregular bleeding will gradually diminish over a number of weeks to months.

If you think an IUD might be the right form of contraception for you, request an appointment with one of our IUD-trained general practitioners to discuss your individual contraceptive needs.