The Family Health Guide


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Women have a new choice for birth control. Late last year the FDA approved the intrauterine device (IUD) Mirena. Mirena is a T-shaped plastic device placed in the uterus by a physician that releases small amounts of the hormone levonorgesterel to block conception. Although not the first hormonal IUD, Mirena only needs to be replaced once every five years. The others, in contrast, must be changed yearly. The manufacturer, Berlex Laboratories, reports less than 1% of women become pregnant while using Mirena.
Physicians can easily remove the IUD. And once it’s extracted, a woman can again become pregnant. According to Berlex, eight out of ten women who are trying to conceive will become pregnant within the first year after Mirena is removed.

Mirena is not for everyone, however. Women with a history of pelvic inflammatory disease or a previous ectopic pregnancy (when the embryo grows outside the uterus) should not use IUDs. Furthermore, they don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Possible side effects include spotting or missed periods.
June 2001 Update

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