IUD (Intrauterine Device for Birth Control)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What are the advantages of an IUD? How effective is an IUD?

The advantages of the IUD include the fact that it is highly effective in preventing conception, is reversible, and starts working almost immediately. Once the IUD is removed, there is a quick return to fertility. The levonorgestrel-releasing IUD (99% effectiveness) is replaced every three to five years. The copper IUD is also 99% effective and only needs to be replaced every 10 years.

What are the types of IUDs (ParaGard, Mirena, Skyla)?

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) that are available in the U.S. come in two different types: 1) copper-releasing, or 2) progesterone-releasing.

  1. TCu380A (ParaGard) is a copper-containing IUD: It releases copper from a copper wire that is wrapped around the base. The released copper contributes to an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that helps prevent fertilization of the egg. It is approved to remain in place for up to 10 years.
  2. Levonorgestrel-releasing IUD (Mirena or Skyla): This form of IUD releases a progestin hormone from the vertical part of the T. Progestin acts to thicken cervical mucus, creating a barrier to sperm, as well as renders the lining of the uterus inhospitable to implantation of an egg. The two brand-named IUDs in this category contain different amounts of the hormone. Mirena is approved for up to five years of use and Skyla for up to three years.

Who can use an IUD?

Most healthy women are be able to use an IUD. They are not right for every woman, however, and some women should not use an IUD for contraception. Before an IUD is inserted, a woman will have a pregnancy test to ensure she is not pregnant and will be tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

The following are reasons that a woman should not use an IUD:

A woman who is allergic to copper or who has Wilson's disease should not use the copper-containing IUD.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016
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