As a woman, you have several options for hormonal birth control. These include pills, patches, vaginal rings and intrauterine devices, commonly known as IUDs. As of publication, Mirena is the only hormonal IUD approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the U.S. Mirena uses a form of the hormone progesterone to help prevent pregnancy.
How Hormonal Birth Control Works
Your ovaries produce the two hormones that primarily regulate your menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone. During a normal cycle, the levels of these two hormones rise and fall throughout the month to create the environment necessary for ovulation and embryo implantation if an egg becomes fertilized. Hormonal birth control essentially tricks the body into thinking it is pregnant by providing a steady stream of hormones into you body, creating an environment similar to that of pregnancy. This setting prevents ovulation. Hormonal birth control also thickens cervical mucus to stop sperm from entering the uterus, and thins the lining of the uterus to inhibit a fertilized egg from attaching to it.
Mirena is a T-shaped plastic frame that must be properly fitted and inserted into your uterus by your physician. Once applied, Mirena steadily releases small amounts of levonorgestrel, a type of progesterone, directly into your uterus. Unlike most other hormonal contraceptives, Mirena does not contain estrogen. The American Academy of Family Physicians reports that progesterone-only contraceptives, such as Mirena, cause fewer side effects. They are also a better option for breast-feeding women, because progesterone does not interfere with milk production like estrogen does.
Your Mirena can remain in place for up to five years. However, you can choose to remove it earlier due to side effects affecting your health or quality of life, or your desire to become pregnant. As with its insertion, Mirena must be removed by your physician.
Progesterone After Removal
Mirena asserts that your natural progesterone levels and menstrual cycle should return to normal within a month after removal. It also reports that your chance of getting pregnant within the first 12 months is 80 percent. However, as with other hormonal birth control, your body may not return to its normal hormone production and menstrual cycle as quickly as reported, notes the American Academy of Family Physicians. You may experience amenorrhea, the absence of menstruation, for several months, hindering your ability to become pregnant.
All forms of hormonal birth control carry some risks that range from mild to severe. Only you and your physician can choose the method that best fits your health history and lifestyle. Always consult your physician before starting a new birth control regimen.