One of the most effective methods of birth control for women is the intrauterine device (IUD), also known as intrauterine contraception (IUC), or an intrauterine system (IUS).

While popular in most parts of the world, only about 2 percent of women in the U.S. use an IUD.

This may be attributed to negative publicity in the 1970s linking them to pelvic infections. However, today's IUDs are among the safest, most cost-effective and longest lasting forms of reversible birth control.

The two types of IUDs currently on the market are the Paragard and Mirena.

Most women, including those who are breastfeeding, can safely use either device.

Ideal candidates include women seeking long-term, hassle-free and reversible contraception that can be removed at any time.

The Paragard is a copper-wrapped device that may be used for up to 10 years, but must be removed at that time.

It is a great option for women looking to avoid hormones, who are uncomfortable skipping their menstrual cycles and who are accepting of longer, heavier cycles.

Women with an abnormally shaped uterus, active pelvic infection, unexplained vaginal bleeding, are pregnant or have Wilson's disease are not good candidates for the Paragard.

The Mirena, which must be removed after five years, secretes the hormone progesterone locally to the uterus.

It may be a better option for women wanting lighter menstrual cycles; however, it cannot be used by those undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Speak with your provider, as choosing the right contraceptive option depends on your short- and long-term fertility plans, menstrual cycles and medical history.

• Dr. Laurie Erickson is vice chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. For more information on this topic, talk with your physician or call Erickson's Ahwatukee office at (480) 759-9191.

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