By Dawn Stacey, M.Ed., LMHC, About.com Contraception Guide
(Reprinted with her permission)
Birth control must be used consistently and according to instructions in order to attain maximum effectiveness. In order to lower the chances of birth control failure, follow these suggestions if you curretnly use a Mirena IUD or a ParaGard IUD.
If you have any questions about your birth control method, please contact your healthcare provider. You will lower your chances for birth control failure if you have a proper and thorough understanding of how to use your contraceptive.
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1. It is especially important to check every few days for the first few weeks after an IUD insertion to make sure that it is still properly in place. You should also feel for the strings after your first period since the insertion. Additionally, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor after your first period (and no longer than 3 months after the insertion) to make sure that the IUD is still in place.
2. Make sure to check the strings each month to ensure that the IUD is still in place (your doctor can provide instructions on how to do this).
3. An IUD must be removed if it becomes partially expelled. It is a wise idea to check your pads and tampons during your period to make sure that the IUD has not fallen out.
Most pregnancies happen to Mirena or ParaGard IUD users when their IUDs slide out without them realizing it. Even though the chance of pregnancy while an IUD is in place is extremely low, if it does happen, you should have the IUD removed as soon as you are aware that you're pregnant.
4. If you cannot feel the strings, make sure to use an alternative, back-up contraceptive method, and call your healthcare provider to make sure that the IUD has not been displaced.
5. Some woman may have the IUD strings cut shorter if they are felt by the woman’s sexual partner. When this is the case, sometimes the strings are cut so short that the woman cannot actually check for the strings. Regular IUD checkups can be done at the same time as your periodic gynecological exam.
For the rest of Dawn's reprints:
- Tips for Contraceptive Success (introduction to the series)
- What Leads to Contraceptive Failure?
- How To Prevent Condom Failure
- How To Respond to Men's Excuses for Not Wanting to Wear a Condom
- How To Prevent Diaphragm Failure
- How To Decrease Failure with the Fertility Awareness Method
- How To Prevent Oral Contraceptive Failure
- Medications and Inhibitors that Lower Hormonal Contraception Effectiveness
- How to Prevent IUD Failure
To learn more about contraception, please visit Dawn's work on About.com.
Or you can consult the Nonviolent Choice Directory's extensive Pregnancy Prevention resources. The Nonviolent Choice Directory also sells nonprescription family planning and safer sex items through our website.