The IUD – or intrauterine device – is a popular form of birth control that’s long-lasting and highly effective against unplanned pregnancy. It’s a small T-shaped device with strings that is easily placed and removed by your doctor. There are two types: copper and progesterone.
IUDs are popular for their ease of use. With a pill, patch, or vaginal ring, you’ll need to remember to take or change these on a regular basis (i.e. daily, weekly or monthly). An IUD, however, works constantly without any effort on your part for as long as three to ten years, depending on the brand selected. When you’re ready for pregnancy, you can simply have it removed and there’s no waiting period before trying to conceive.
Types of IUD
Progesterone. Currently, there are four types of IUDs on the market that contain progesterone. Each delivers a small dose of hormone daily which prevents pregnancy in several ways. Progesterone thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. It thins the lining of the uterine wall which may reduce the amount of bleeding with your cycle. Progesterone also slows down the movements of fallopian tubes with prevents an egg from making it’s way to the uterine cavity. The IUD itself is made of lightweight plastic. Depending on the brand, these IUDs last between three to six years.
Copper. There is currently only one maker of copper IUDs. The device is a T-shaped copper coil and is effective up to 10 years. Copper interferes with sperm movement, egg fertilization, and possibly prevents implantation. For this reason, the copper version is also highly effective for emergency contraception. If used within five days of unprotected sex, it can prevent pregnancy by more than 99.9 percent.
Side effects of an IUD
Some women experience a few side effects within the first 3-6 months of IUD insertion, which is normal as the body adjusts. They may include:
- Mild or moderate pain at insertion.
- Spotting or irregular periods.
- Heavier periods or heavier cramping.
These side effects usually clear up within 3-6 months. You should contact your doctor for ongoing or worrisome symptoms.
Can anyone get an IUD?
While the IUD is highly effective for a large number of people, there are some women who would benefit better from a different form of birth control. These include:
- Patients with uterine cancer.
- Patients with untreated cervical cancer.
- Pelvic infection or a sexually transmitted disease.
- Pelvic tuberculosis.
- People who are pregnant.
- Patients looking to clear up acne (since there is no estrogen in hormonal IUD, the key hormone that helps clear skin).
In addition, anyone with a copper allergy, Wilson’s Disease (the inability to remove copper from the blood) or difficulty with heavy cycles should not use the copper IUD.
Anyone with breast cancer, high risk of breast cancer or liver disease should consult with their doctor about a progesterone IUD.
How do I get an IUD?
Make an appointment with your provider at Bloom Ob/Gyn to talk about all of your options for birth control. He or she will ask about reasons why you want the IUD versus another method and whether you have plans to become pregnant anytime soon. The doctor will also review your health and family history. This will help determine if an IUD is the best product for you.
Call Bloom Ob/Gyn today for an appointment at 202-449-9570.