Monday, July 18, 2011

New State Law Expands Women's Access to Mirena IUS

Have you been considering a visit to a naturopathic doctor but were unsure whether your basic women's health needs would be met?

female doctor speaking with female patient
A law passed in April 2011 allows naturopathic doctors to place the Mirena intrauterine system.

In the state of Washington, naturopathic doctors (NDs) are licensed primary care providers who can perform your annual checkup as well as other women's health care throughout the year.

Jane Guiltinan, ND, dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University and a clinical supervisor at Bastyr Center for Natural Health, says practitioners at the teaching clinic offer a full range of women's health services, including:

  • Birth control
  • Support for menopause
  • Support for fertility issues
  • Screening for sexually transmitted diseases
  • Breast health

Adding to those services, Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire in April 2011 signed into law Senate Bill 5152, which expands naturopathic doctors' access to contraceptives to include the Mirena intrauterine system (IUS).

This birth control device, which a health care professional must insert, works for as long as five years by releasing the hormone progesterone internally. Previously, naturopathic doctors in the state were only licensed to insert the nonhormonal ParaGard intrauterine device (IUD), which is coated with a spermicidal copper and works for up to 10 years.

Both intrauterine contraceptives are preferred by many women because of their convenience compared to other types of birth control.

However, because of the hormones included in the Mirena IUS, the contraceptive can do more than just prevent pregnancies.

"There are some advantages to the Mirena that ParaGard doesn't have in terms of the progesterone," Guiltinan says. "ParaGard can't usually help with heavy bleeding like the Mirena can."

Want to learn more about the Mirena IUS or the other women's health services available at Bastyr Center for Natural Health? Make an appointment by calling (206) 834-4100.

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