What is an IUD?
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small T-shaped birth control device, about the size of a quarter, that is placed inside a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is a reversible contraceptive, meaning it can be removed if pregnancy is desired.
IUDs are one of the most popular contraceptive options for women. They prevent pregnancy by preventing the sperm cells from reaching and fertilizing the woman’s eggs. Modern-day IUDs are one of the safest and most effective birth control methods. You can get an IUD put in any time during your menstrual cycle.
How does an IUD prevent pregnancy?
There are two types of IUDs:
- Copper IUDs
- Hormonal IUDs
They work by either of the following two ways:
Is it painful to have an IUD put in?
Getting an IUD is generally not excessively painful. Before inserting the IUD, your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your medical history. This will be followed by an examination of your vagina, cervix and uterus. You may be tested for any sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The entire procedure takes around five minutes. First, a device called a speculum is inserted in the vagina followed by placing the IUD into the uterus with the help of a narrow inserter.
Pain is usually felt when the speculum is inserted and the IUD is being placed inside the uterus. Some women report a sharp cramping pain which lasts no more than a minute or two. The doctor may advise a pain-reducing medicine before or after the procedure to make it comfortable. They may also inject medicines to numb the cervix so that pain is reduced to a minimum.After the IUD is inserted, there is a small thread-like string extending out from the vagina. It is just one to two inches in length and barely noticeable or felt. It should not be pulled with force to avoid displacing the IUD. The string can be used to remove the IUD later.
What can I expect after an IUD insertion procedure?
Although the procedure is quick and done in the doctor’s office, some women might feel lightheaded after the IUD is put in. You may ask someone to accompany you so that you can comfortably get back home after the procedure.
Many people feel perfectly fine after they get an IUD, while others need to take rest for some time. Heating pad and over-the-counter medicines will help with any pain. You may experience occasional cramping and spotting that resolves within three to six months. Your experience may vary depending on the type of IUD inserted.
- Hormonal IUDs make periods lighter and less painful. You may stop getting periods after some time. This is not a permanent occurrence and your periods regularize after the IUD removal.
- Copper IUDs in contrast can make you get heavy and crampy periods.
The discomfort with the IUDs goes away over time. If the IUD is giving you pain, fever, bleeding, discomfort or any other disturbing symptoms, you should consult with your doctor.
When should I get my IUD removed?
You should note the date you received your IUD, as different IUDs are effective for different durations. Some of the common IUDs and the time for which they can be left in your uterus are:
- Paragard IUD: 12 years
- Mirena IUD: Seven years
- Kyleena IUD: Five years
- Liletta IUD: Seven years
- Skyla IUD: Three years
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Birth Control Pill vs. Shot (Depo-Provera): Similarities and DifferencesBirth control pills (oral contraceptives) and the Depo-Provera shot are two hormonal methods of birth control. Both methods work by changing the hormone levels in your body, which prevents pregnancy, or conception. Differences between "the pill" and "the shot." Birth control pills are available as combination pills, which contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, or mini-pills that only contain progestin. In comparison to the Depo-Provera injection, which prevents pregnancy for three consecutive months. Both methods of birth control are very effective in preventing pregnancy. Both the combination pill (if you take them as directed) and shot are up to 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. While the mini-pill is only about 95% effective in preventing pregnancy. Both methods cause weight gain, and have other similar side effects like breast pain, soreness or tenderness, headaches, and mood changes. They may lead to decreased interest in sex in some women. There are differences between the other side effects of these methods (depending upon the method) that include breakthrough bleeding or spotting, acne, depression, fatigue, and weakness. Both oral contraceptives and the Depo-Provera shot have health risks associated with them, such as, heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and cervical cancer. Birth control pills appear to increase the risk of cervical cancer. Talk with your OB/GYN or other doctor or health care professional about which birth control method is right for you.
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Hormonal Methods of Birth ControlThere are several different hormonal methods of birth control. The hormones can be estrogen and/or progesterone. The hormones can be taken by mouth, implanted into body tissue, absorbed from a patch on the skin, injected under the skin, or placed in the vagina. Common types of hormonal birth control include: "The Pill" (oral contraceptives), injection (Depo-Provera, Lunelle), the patch (Ortho-Evra), and the vaginal ring (Nuvaring).
IUD (Intrauterine Device for Birth Control)
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a birth control method designed for a woman. The IUD is a small "T" made of molded polyethylene plastic coated with barium so that, if need be, it can be seen on X-ray.
There are two types of IUDs 1) Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) including the ParaGard, Copper 7, and Mini-7; and 2) Intrauterine system (IUS) including Progestasert and Mirena.
Side effects of the IUD include spotting, infection, infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and heavy menstrual bleeding. Risks and complications of the IUD are miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and increased menstrual bleeding.
Natural Birth ControlNatural methods of contraception are considered "natural" because they are non-mechanical and non-hormonal. Fertility awareness methods (FAMs) are based upon knowing when a woman ovulates each month. Natural methods of birth control include: the calendar rhythm, basal body temperature, mucus inspection, symptothermal, use of an ovulation indicator testing kit, withdrawal, lactational infertility, douching and urination, and abstinence.
Birth Control: Surgical SterilizationSurgical sterilization is considered a permanent method of contraception. In certain cases, sterilization can be reversed, but this is not guaranteed. For this reason, sterilization is meant for men and women who do not intend to have children in the future. Types of surgical sterilization include: vasectomy, tubal ligation, STOP (selective tubal occlusion procedure), and hysterectomy.