The Intrauterine Contraceptive (IUC) - Mirena | Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

The Intrauterine Contraceptive (IUC) - Mirena

I got a couple of odd questions on the We're Talking Teen Health site recently that confused me - asking about a new kind of IUD, and finally a friend recorded the TV commercial that seems to have triggered the questions.

I guess the IUD has enough bad press that the maker (Bayer) of a new birth control device decided it would be better to call it something else, like an IUC. The Mirena is an estrogen-free intrauterine contraceptive (IUC) made of soft flexible plastic advertised to "keep life simple," which may also reducing cramping and give women shorter, lighter periods. This is not an alternative more most teens however - read on!

The important safety information on their site suggests it is only the right choice for women who:
  • have had a child;
  • are in a stable relationship (assuming that predicts monogamy I assume);
  • have no risk or history of ectopic pregnancy or pelvic inflammatory disease.
In addition, it does not protect against HIV or sexually transmitted infection and ovarian cysts may occur and typically disappear. Complications may occur from placement and missing periods or irregular bleeding is common in the first few months, followed by shorter, lighter periods. Some other side effects, more common during the first three months, have included cramps, acne or skin problems, back pain, breast tenderness, headaches, mood changes, and nausea.

Mirena, which can las up to five years, is a levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system, that delivers a small amount of hormone directly to the uterus, which may block the sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg, thinning out the lining of the uterus, and possibly stopping the egg from being released.

The Mirena is inserted through a thin plastic tube through your vagina and cervix into your uterus. The tube is then removed, leaving the Mirena in your uterus. The string that is attached to it and used to remove it is trimmed and you are done. Once a year, during your pap exam, the clinician check on the IUC and when you want it removed, it can easily be removed by a clinician.

Photo Credit: Looking Glass
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.