If you’re looking at your birth control choices, one method you may like to think about is the IUD. They’re not for all, but today’s IUDs are known to be both successful and safe for most women. And they’re long-lasting, also.
What’s the Intrauterine device?
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small devices placed in your uterus to stop the insemination process. For decades, IUDs have been on and off the market. They are extremely popular around the world and one of the most effective forms of birth control.
In every 1,000 women (0.2 per 100 women for Mirena) with IUDs, 2 to 8 are estimated to become pregnant in a typical year of use.
There are 2 kinds of IUDs: copper and hormonal. There are actually four IUD labels available in the United States. ParaGard is a copper IUD, and Mirena, Liletta, and Skyla are hormone IUDs that use progestin.
IUDs are a perfect choice of birth control for many women. However, it is not the best option for women with a high risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
Key facts about the IUD
- IUDs are more than 99 percent successful when inserted correctly
- The IUD works as soon as it is placed in and lasts 5 to 10 years, depending on the type.
- It can be used at any time during the menstrual cycle, as long as you are not pregnant.
- It can be carried out at any time by a specially qualified doctor or nurse. It’s possible to get pregnant right away.
- The periods may be heavier, longer, or more painful for the first 3 to 6 months after IUD. You can get spotting or bleeding in periods.
- There is a slight risk of infection after it has been fitted.
- There is a small chance that your body can push out the IUD out or move. A doctor or nurse will show you how to check it out.
- It can feel painful when IUD is inserted on, but painkillers can help.
- It may not be sufficient if you have had previous pelvic infections.
How does an IUD work?
Both copper and hormonal IUD forms work by making it impossible for sperm to enter your egg. ParaGard causes an inflammatory reaction in the lining of the uterus. The inflammation is harmful to sperm. It also makes the uterus hostile to implantation as fertilization happens.
However, recent studies have failed to provide evidence that fertilization has ever occurred. ParaGard has been working for up to 10 years after insertion.
Mirena operates to thin your uterus’ lining to prevent sperm from being transferred to your fallopian tubes. The progestin produces also thickens your cervical mucus and can inhibit ovulation.
After insertion, Mirena will last for up to five years. Skyla and Liletta are smaller and have a lower dosage of progestin. They both thin the lining of your uterus and can last up to three years.
How is an IUD inserted?
A health provider inserts the IUD. Please make an appointment with your doctor to decide if IUD is the right birth control option for you. You can insert the IUD any time you’re sure you’re not pregnant. Your doctor will implant your IUD through your cervix and into your uterus. Usually, the operation lasts less than 15 minutes. Doctors can do it with or without local anesthesia. You’re probably going to feel some cramping or discomfort.
There is a very small risk of expulsion. It’s important to check that it’s all in place for the first few months. You’re supposed to do this every month.
To check your Intrauterine device:
- Wash your hands with water and soap.
- Put the finger in your vagina until you touch the cervix.
- Feel the end of the string.
You should be able to feel the string. If the string is shorter or longer than usual, there might be a problem. You’re not supposed to feel the rough end of the IUD on your cervix.
If there’s a problem, don’t pull the string or attempt to reinsert the IUD yourself. Instead, make a meeting with the doctor. They will check to see if the IUD looks right and the state of the string.
Expulsion is a rare phenomenon. If it happens, it’s probably going to be during your period. Expulsion is most likely to happen within the first three months after insertion. If you’re awaiting for the IUD to be reinserted, choose an alternative birth control method.
What are the benefits of IUD?
- Long-acting – it lasts between 3 and 10 years, depending on the form of IUD.
- Removable – you can choose to have it removed at any time. You’ll be able to get pregnant after that.
- 99% effective – working really well
- You don’t have to worry about contraception every day.
- It does not affect breastfeeding
- It doesn’t get in the way of sex
- The IUD of copper does not produce any hormones
- You can also use the IUD of copper as emergency contraception
- Hormonal IUD contains a very small number of hormones, and most patients have no side effects.
- Mirena (hormonal IUD) will help with periodic bleeding and pain. Most patients may have light bleeding or no bleeding at all.
Research suggests that IUDs do not induce acne, headaches, sore breasts, nausea, mood changes, loss of sexual desire, or excess weight. There is no evidence of additional risk of cancer.
WHAT are THE DISADVANTAGES of IUD or Intrauterine devices?
Certain people experience pain, cramps, or dizziness as IUD is inserted in or out.
There are some risks involved in having an IUD put in:
- There is a slight risk of infection (about 1%).
- Minimal risk of uterus injury (about 1 in 1000 people) is present.
- Copper IUD can cause you more bleeding and cramping during your period. But it usually gets better over time.
- Copper IUD can induce an allergic reaction, although this is very rare.
- Hormonal IUD can cause irregular or light bleeding
The IUD will also come out of its own (about 5 percent of all IUDs). You can check that the threads are still in the right position at any time.
Who can use an IUD or Intrauterine device?
Most women may use IUDs, even those that are HIV-positive.
A GP or nurse can ask about your medical background and check if the IUD is suitable for you.
The IUD might not be suitable if you:
- Think that you may be pregnant
- An untreated STI or a pelvic infection
- Had problems with the womb or the cervix
- Abnormal bleeding between periods or after sex
Women who have an ectopic pregnancy must contact their GP or clinician before they have an IUD.
The Bottom Line
The IUD has more pros than cons for most users. You don’t have to worry about birth control for at least three years, depending on the type you get. Recent research also supports this love of IUDs. People who have IUDs are more likely to adhere to their birth control than women who use other methods, such as a pill.