How are those sexy New Year’s resolutions we talked about goin’? Mine are well under way, I am happy to say. I have an appointment set up for a shiny new – and 100 percent covered! – intrauterine device (IUD), thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Was your or your family’s health insurance renewed recently? It might be worth checking into the details of your plan, since many plans are now covering a wide variety of contraceptive options. If you or your partner is interested in either beginning or reconsidering a method, I would highly recommend checking out bedsider.org for a wonderful and easy to use breakdown of various birth control methods.

However, one product that you won’t find on there as of yet is Skyla. Set to hit the market Feb. 11, Skyla is an IUD approved by the Food and Drug Administration to prevent pregnancy for up to three years for women who have not had children. This week, it was my turn to ask the questions when I had the opportunity to speak with Pamela A. Cyrus, the vice president and head of U.S. Medical Affairs at Bayer Pharmaceutacials, the same people who brought you the IUD Mirena.

Badger Herald: With such a great product like Mirena on the market, why Skyla and why now?

Pamela A. Cyrus: Skyla is the first intrauterine system to come to the U.S. market in more than a decade. And Bayer did do this because nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. So there’s been a growing support for long-acting, reversible contraceptives in the medical community to address this problem, and it sounds like you’re seeing that with your fellow Badgers. Bayer really wanted to expand its IUD portfolio and underscore the healthy, continued commitment to empower women with a variety of birth control options when they’re at different stages of their reproductive life.

BH: What are the main differences between Skyla and Mirena?

Cyrus: Skyla is a levonorgestrel-releasing system. It’s approved by the FDA for pregnancy prevention for up to three years. Mirena is also a leveonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system, but it’s approved for prevention for up to five years. Additionally, Mirena is approved to treat heavy menstrual bleeding for women who choose to use intrauterine contraception, but Mirena is recommended for women who have a child. Skyla can be used by women whether or not she’s had a child.

BH: Which sounds like a lot of college-aged women…

Cyrus: Exactly!

BH: If a young student was trying to pick a hormonal BC option, why should they pick Skyla over the pill, the patch or a ring?

Cyrus: If you look at the effectiveness of the various forms of birth control, the methods that you see the fewest pregnancies with are implants, injections, sterilizations and IUDs. So, certainly, for a woman who wants long-term birth control that provides a low chance of getting pregnant (less than one in 100), then the IUD would be a very good choice.

In the case of Skyla, for a person who wants birth control that works continuously for up to three years, birth control that’s reversible in case they change their mind down the road, if they want a method that they don’t have to take daily, if they’re willing to take a birth control method that has to be placed in the uterus and they want birth control that doesn’t contain estrogen, that’s the type of woman that’s going to want Skyla.

BH: What is the procedure like?

Cyrus: It does have to be a health care provider who inserts it. It’s done during an in-office visit. They’re going to do an exam where they’re going to examine their pelvis and find the position of how the uterus is laying. They’re going to clean the area and then they’re going to put a plastic tube containing the Skyla to the uterus.

BH: So is this a quick trip to the doctor?

Cyrus: You need to put aside a little bit of time for it. Because you need to have time to get in there, have it properly inserted. It’s not necessarily a lengthy procedure, but you can have symptoms for a short period of time right after placement. They might have pain, bleeding or dizziness during and after placement. 

These symptoms normally pass within 30 minutes of being inserted, but [patients are] certainly going to want to be observed closely after that time. This isn’t something that you just stop in between classes for, but it’s also not a surgical procedure that they have to take days off of class either.

BH: What are the long-term side effects?

Cyrus: Like all IUDs, it can cause serious side effects that can include pelvic inflammatory disease or perforation. It may become attached or embedded into walls of uterus. Those are the more serious side effects. Common side effects include pain, bleeding, dizziness or expulsion. Skyla can come out on its own. Women are always going to want to make sure it’s in place. You can also have missed menstrual periods, changes in bleeding, cysts in the ovaries.

BH: Perforation and expulsion? Is that very common?

Cyrus: Perforation occurs in one out of 1000, expulsion three out of 100.

BH: Does it have any effects on the menstrual cycle?

Cyrus: It can. About one out of 16 women will stop having periods after one year of Skyla use.

BH: Any chances of heavier periods?

Cyrus: You can have bleeding and spotting between periods. That’s usually in the first three to six months. Sometimes it’s heavier than usual at first. Usually, the bleeding becomes lighter than usual.

Read more about Skyla on the ArtsEtc. Blog The Beat Goes On next week, and stay tuned to follow Sam’s IUD adventures. Submit your questions to [email protected]