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FDA Approves Mirena IUD

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Updated July 19, 2009

Women in the United States will have a new birth control option available in the first quarter of 2001. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new intrauterine device (IUD) called Mirena. For 10 years Mirena, marketed by Berlex Laboratories, Inc., has been used in Europe by approximately two million women.

"There have been few choices for really effective, long acting, but still reversible contraceptive options. The availability of Mirena should make it possible for these busy women to enjoy sexual spontaneity without having to worry about taking pills everyday or about getting pregnant," said Dr. Felicia Stewart of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

The new IUD lasts for up to five years and is as effective as tubal ligation. Unlike currently available IUDs which can cause heavy and excessive menstruation, women who use Mirena often experience shorter and lighter periods. Some women's periods stop completely after a few months.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Side effects which usually disappear within four months after insertion include:
  • breast tenderness
  • nausea
  • headaches
  • mood changes

Although the shorter, lighter periods, or the complete cessation of menstruation is listed as a side effect by the FDA, for many women these side effects are seen as a good reason for using Mirena.

How Does Mirena Work?

Mirena is a small T-shaped device made of plastic. It works by delivering a very small amount of a progestin (20 mcg of levonorgestrel) directly on the inner wall of the uterus. This dose is approximately the same dose as taking two or three mini-pills a week. Standard IUDs work by blocking fertilized eggs from implanting on the uterus, or by creating a mild inflammation which prevents sperm from fertilizing eggs.

Insertion of Mirena takes only a few minutes in a physician's office, and Mirena can be easily removed.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Mirena?

To be eligible for Mirena, as well as other IUDS, a woman must have had at least one previous pregnancy. She should be in a stable, monogamous relationship. And she should not have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

It's important to remember that like other methods of contraception, Mirena provides no protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Only sexual abstinence or the regular use of condoms can help prevent transmission of STDs.

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