Five Reasons For Women To Take Charge of Their Reproductive Health
There are many options when it comes to female reproductive health choices. These are very personal decisions; however, input from your partner and health care provider is paramount. Here is some important information to keep in mind as you speak with your healthcare provider and consider what might be right for you.
Trends in contraception in the United States, who knew?
Approximately 43 million (70 percent) of U.S. women in their childbearing years are at risk of unintended pregnancy. Research shows, however, that the percentage of women who use birth control has grown substantially.
While the pill remains the most common form of reversible birth control for women in the United States, the intrauterine device (IUD) has become increasingly popular, especially for women ages 25-34. In fact, recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) show women are using long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and implants significantly more than they have in the past.
Plan for pregnancy on your terms
Women may choose to delay childbearing to have more time to achieve personal and professional goals. And generally the less you have to do, the more effective the birth control method tends to be.
The SkylaÂ® (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 13.5 mg IUD is effective for up to three years and can be used by women who have not had a child. The MirenaÂ® (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 52 mg IUD is effective for up to five years and is recommended in women who have had at least one child. It is recommended to check the IUD threads monthly. If continued use is desired for pregnancy prevention, Mirena must be replaced after five years and Skyla must be replaced after three years. Skyla is effective for up to three years and can be used in women who have not yet had a child. Both the IUD and the implant are reversible.
The most common adverse reactions observed during clinical trials of Skyla were vulvovaginitis (20.2 percent), abdominal/pelvic pain (18.9 percent), acne/seborrhea (15.0 percent), ovarian cyst (13.2 percent), headache (12.4 percent), dysmenorrhea (8.6 percent), breast pain/discomfort (8.6 percent), increased bleeding (7.8 percent), and nausea (5.5 percent). The most common adverse reactions reported in clinical trials of Mirena were alterations in bleeding patterns [including unscheduled uterine bleeding (31.9 percent), decreased uterine bleeding (23.4 percent) and increased uterine bleeding (11.9 percent), abdominal/pelvic pain (22.6 percent), amenorrhea (18.4 percent), headache/migraine (16.3 percent), genital discharge (14.9 percent), vulvovaginitis (10.5 percent), breast pain (8.5 percent), back pain (7.9 percent), benign ovarian cyst and associated complications (7.5 percent), acne (6.8 percent), dysmenorrhea (6.4 percent), and depression/depressive mood (6.4 percent).
Recognize the effectiveness of available contraceptive methods
“It is important to know how well contraceptive methods work. Only abstinence is 100 percent effective. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) considers long-acting reversible contraception, like IUDs and implants, to be among the most effective methods available” explains Alyssa Dweck, an OB/GYN in Westchester, New York. “Women should talk to their health care provider about the best option for them.”
Protect yourself from Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
STIs can result in uncomfortable symptoms and can lead to a serious pelvic infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. While nothing is 100 percent preventative, barrier methods of contraception, specifically condoms, are the best way to protect against STIs. Keep in mind that certain infections like the human papilloma virus (HPV), which can cause genital warts or cervical cancer, are transmitted via skin-to-skin contact, so condoms are not 100 percent protective. Herpes as well as other STIs can be transmitted during oral sex. One caveat that deserves mention: Don’t use an IUD like Skyla or Mirena if you have an active vaginal or pelvic infection or get infections easily. Some Mirena and Skyla users can get PID (less than 1 percent). More serious cases of PID may require surgery. A hysterectomy is sometimes needed. In rare cases, infections that start as PID can even cause death.
Skyla and Mirena do not protect against HIV or STDs.
The biological clock keeps ticking
It’s important to keep age in mind when considering reproductive decisions since fertility in women naturally declines with advancing age, specifically from age 35 and most notably after 40. Ideal intended family size should be taken into consideration as well. Your health care provider can offer blood testing to evaluate your ovarian reserve as age advances.
Contraception has never been more accessible
Access to contraception is now easier than ever. Online and print education is abundant. In addition, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most women in the U.S. with insurance can access prescription contraception at no cost. CoverHer.org, run by the National Women’s Law Center, provides assistance determining individual coverage. Moreover, many companies offer patient assistance programs for eligible women, including the ARCH program from Bayer for SkylaÂ® and MirenaÂ®.
Indication for SkylaÂ® (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 13.5 mg
Skyla is a hormone-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) indicated for the prevention of pregnancy for up to 3 years.
Indications for MirenaÂ® (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) 52 mg
Mirena is a hormone-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) placed in your uterus to prevent pregnancy for as long as you want to for up to 5 years. Mirena also treats heavy periods in women who choose intrauterine contraception. Mirena is recommended for women who have had a child.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION ABOUT SKYLA AND MIRENA
- If you have a pelvic infection, get infections easily, or have certain cancers, don’t use Skyla or Mirena. Less than 1 percent of users of Skyla or Mirena get a serious pelvic infection called PID.
- If you have persistent pelvic or stomach pain or if Skyla or Mirena comes out, tell your doctor. If Skyla or Mirena comes out, use back-up birth control. Skyla or Mirena may attach to or go through the uterus and cause other problems.
- Pregnancy while using Skyla or Mirena is uncommon but can be life threatening and may result in loss of pregnancy or fertility. Ovarian cysts may occur with Skyla or Mirena but usually disappear.
- Bleeding and spotting may increase in the first 3 to 6 months and remain irregular with Skyla or Mirena. Periods over time usually become shorter, lighter, or may stop.