Hormone releasing IUD
The only intrauterine device (IUD) in Australia that releases hormones is called the M****a.
It is a small plastic device in the shape of a T and has a hormone called levonorgestrel in the stem.
It is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy and works by making the cervical mucous thicker so sperm cannot get into the uterus. It also affects the ability of sperm and egg to move through the uterus and fallopian tubes, reducing the chance of an egg being fertilised.
It also changes the lining of the uterus making it less suitable for pregnancy, and can also sometimes stop your ovaries from releasing an egg (or ovulating).
How effective is it?
The hormone-releasing IUD (HR-IUD) is 99% effective which means that if 100 women use an HR-IUD for 1 year, 1 of them may fall pregnant.
Who can or can’t have a Hormone Releasing IUD?
The HR-IUD is safe for many women to use for effective contraception, and can even be used whilst breastfeeding.
It is also useful to space pregnancies apart, and it can reduce menstrual bleeding for women who have heavy periods.
There are a few situations where you cannot have an HR-IUD:
- If you could be pregnant
- Undiagnosed uterine bleeding (once the diagnosis has been established it may be safe to have an IUD)
- You have a current pelvic infection – PID or Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
- You are waiting for treatment for cervical cancer or cervical changes
Things to consider before choosing an IUD
Other things may prevent you from having an IUD such as:
- you have had a recent sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- you have a congenital heart or valve disease
- you have fibroids or other conditions that change the shape of your uterus or cervix, or your uterus is fairly large or small (the doctor will be able to tell you when you are examined)
- you have already had previous problems with an IUD (for instance the IUD has come out by itself)
- you are unable to have a follow-up check after insertion
I’m still not convinced I need it, what are the other advantages?
Well other than being extremely effective at preventing unplanned pregnancies it:
- Lasts a long time (5 years)
- Is reversible with removal
- Doesn’t require you to remember to take a pill every day
- Avoids regular ongoing injections
- Is extremely cost-effective
- Minimises vaginal bleeding for some women
- Can reduce painful periods
Sounds too good to be true, any disadvantages?
Well like every medication there can be some side effects and changes, and things it just doesn’t do.
It can cause some changes in your pattern of vaginal bleeding, it can;
- Change bleeding frequency (65% of women have no bleeding at all on it after 12 months of use)
- There is a small chance of getting a pelvic infection (PID) at the time of insertion – about 1 in every 500 insertions and happens in the first 3 weeks after insertion
- Very rarely the wall of the uterus can be damaged by the process of insertion – great care is taken in the insertion process and only doctors with advanced certification in IUD insertion are permitted to perform this procedure at GSHealth.
- The IUD can be pushed out of the uterus without you noticing, and occurs in about 5 out of every 100 insertions
What the HR-IUD can’t do is protect against STIs.
It also requires a very minor procedure for insertion and removal.
Ok, I want to get an HR IUD, what next?
Firstly you’ll need to book in to see one of our doctors to get to know a little bit more about you and make sure there’s no reason you can’t have an HR-IUD. As we currently do not do IUD insertion at GS Health we will need to refer you to a specialist to perform the procedure.
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Chronic Disease Prevention & Management