Of all the types of birth control available on the market, Mirena is one of the few with an effectiveness that is over 99 percent. Other types with the highest effectiveness include implants, injections, and sterilization. Slightly less effective are the patch, vaginal ring, and the pill, while the effectiveness of products like condoms and spermicides depend on if they are being used properly. However, the maker is facing Mirena lawsuits filed on behalf of women across the country who say the device causes harm.
Part of what makes Mirena so effective is that the user doesn’t have to do anything to make it work. The device is simply implanted in the uterus, where it can stay for up to five years, slowly releasing the hormone levonorgestrel into the surrounding tissue. Mirena starts to work at soon as soon as it is placed in the uterus.
No one, including the people at Bayer who manufacture the device know or understand exactly how it prevents pregnancy, but they do know that the hormones in the device cause the mucous of the cervix to get thick while at the same time causing the lining of the uterus to get thinner. The device also prevents sperm from being able to reach an egg to fertilize it.
Every month, women who use the device are to check to make sure Mirena has not moved. This is done simply by feeling for two little strings that hang from the device, through the cervix and into the vagina. If you decide you no longer want the device because you want to get pregnant or because the side effects and complications are too much, your doctor will need to remove it. Don’t try to remove it yourself by pulling the strings. Insertion and removal take place right in the doctor’s office and only take a few minutes.
As effective and easy as the Mirena birth control device is, there are some side effects that may cause women to decide on a different form of birth control. Two of these serious side effects include the development of brain tumor-like symptoms because of fluid buildup that puts pressure on the brain. This condition, known as Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC), or Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), is caused when cerebrospinal fluid builds under the skull, putting pressure on the brain and optic nerve. The symptoms of this condition include –
Severe headaches or migraines
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurry vision, or vision with blind spots
- Swelling of the optic disc, a condition known as papilledema
This condition can may be difficult to diagnose, in part because the symptoms so closely resemble those of brain tumor. Some of the women who have developed PTC or IIH believe the manufacturer should have known about the risk of developing this condition and should have warned them of it. You can find detailed info here.
Some women have also complained that the device can change positions, perforate the uterus, migrate from the uterus causing internal organ damage and severe pain. These migrations and perforations are spontaneous, often occurring long after the device is implanted.