IUD = One Of The Most Effective Birth Control Methods Around
IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are considered more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
And unlike other birth control options like the pill, the ring, or condoms, there you’re less at risk for human error.
Well, to begin with, your doctor inserts the IUD and it literally just stays there.
So if you’re just horrible at remembering to take pulls or replacing your Nuvaring, consider the IUD as a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing – making it a great alternative option for you.
ALSO, There are two kinds to choose from:
- Hormonal IUD – a tiny plastic device that contains the hormone levonorgestrel, which is slowly released into the uterus.
- Copper IUD – a tiny device made of plastic and copper, and it’s totally free of hormones.
The hormone that is released into the uterus, thickens the cervical mucus, making it extremely difficult for sperm to reach the egg.
There is also a possibility that the hormonal IUD sometimes works by stopping the release of an egg or by thinning the lining of the uterus. This makes it much harder for a fertilized egg to attach, but most of the time, the IUD simply keeps sperm away from the uterus.
The three hormonal IUD options on the market in the U.S. at the moment:
- Mirena – Can stay in up to five years.
- Skyla – Is a b it smaller and can stay in for up to three years.
- Liletta – Just approved by the Food and Drug Administration and can stay in up to three years.
The copper IUD works very similarly to the hormonal IUD, but instead of levonorgestrel, it’s copper that’s continuously being released into your uterus.
The reason copper is released is because it’s actually toxic to sperm, which makes it pretty much impossible for the sperm to get to the egg.
With the copper IUD, it is also possible that the IUD sometimes works by preventing a fertilized egg from implanting.
Currently there is currently one copper IUD available on the market:
- Paragard – Can stay in up to 10 years.
IUDs Are Super Popular Amongst Female Doctors
According to a recent study in the journal Contraception, female family planning doctors are more likely to suggest and also use the IUD more than any other form of birth control.
Considered Safe & Effective For Teens
IUDs are not just for women who have already given birth.
Back in 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested IUDs and implants as “first-line contraceptive choices for adolescents.”
IUDs = Great Options For Anyone Who Wants Long-Term Pregnancy Protection
If you’re looking for a birth control method that you can pretty much forget about, IUDs are a great method.
IUDs can stay in for as little as three years.
You Should Not Get An IUD If:
- If you’re pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
- If you have any uterine abnormalities that would make it hard for the IUD to stay in place (your doctor can check for this).
- If you have acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or a history of PID.
- If you have any unexplained genital or uterine bleeding.
- If you’ve had postpartum endometritis or an infected abortion in the past three months.
- If you have severe liver disease.
- If you have breast cancer or a history of breast cancer, you should not get the hormonal IUD, but your doctor might suggest the copper IUD.
- If you have any untreated pelvic infections (like chlamydia) or are prone to pelvic infections, you may not be a good candidate for either IUD. Talk to your doctor about this history before getting an IUD.
- If you have Wilson’s disease (a rare disorder where copper can accumulate in the body) you cannot get the copper IUD.
IUDs Don’t Actually Stop You From Ovulating
So if the thought of putting your ovulation on hold kind of freaks you out, the IUD might be a great birth control method to choose from.
Typically, the progestin in the hormonal IUD stays mainly within your uterus, with very little getting absorbed into your bloodstream.
Some women experience a difference in ovulation within the the first year or so, but tends to balance out after a while.
And if you opt for the copper IUD, it won’t affect ovulation at all.
They Start Working Immediately
The copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception, so as soon as it’s in, it will start working.
And if you insert the hormonal IUD within seven days of the start of your period, it wil become effective immediately.
If you do however get it inserted any other time, doctors typically recommend using a backup birth control, like a condom, for at least a week.
You Can Get Pregnant As Soon As You Remove It
With both the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as you get it removed.
Some People Report Worse Periods & Cramps On The Copper IUD
Research shows a small percentage of women that get heavier periods when on the copper IUD.
It’s important to note that some women try the copper IUD after trying other hormonal birth control methods making their periods seem worse by comparison.
And since the copper IUD has no hormones, it won’t make your period any lighter or your cramps less awful the way that the pill, the ring, or the hormonal IUD would.
If you’re looking for a method that will even out your cycle, the copper IUD probably isn’t ideal.
With The Hormonal IUD, You Could Have Little To No Period At All
After being on the hormonal IUD for about six months or so, about half of women report minimal bleeding, with many of them having no period at all.
While most people, see this is a major benefit, others might actually miss that monthly reassurance that they’re not pregnant.
You Could Initially Bleed A LOT When You First Get The Hormonal IUD
According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at Yale School of Medicine:
“With [the hormonal IUD] a significant amount of people will have a lot of irregular bleeding for the first six months. Like, you’re ruining a lot of underwear.”
But while it sucks for the moment, the good news is that the bleeding will gradually decrease over time.
And it’s super important to note that most people have lighter or nonexistent periods about six months in!
Insertion Is Quick, But Can Be Uncomfortable For Some & Super Painful For Others
Most people typically just feel cramping for a day or so, but nothing too bad.
If you typically feel pain with pelvic exams or if you have never been pregnant or delivered a baby before, you might feel major discomfort.
The best advice honestly is to take some pain medication beforehand and not psyche yourself out about it.
“If you’re worried something is going to hurt, it’s more likely to hurt.”
What Happens When You Get An IUD
- Like when you get a Pap smear, your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina.
- Then they clean the cervix and examine the uterus to see how long it is and what direction it is.
- They then load the IUD into a small, straw like tube, with the arms collapsed in, and push it through, so it releases into your uterus, allowing the arms open up.
- FINALLY, they cut the strings that hang off the end of it, so that you and your partner can’t feel them (unless you really go looking for them).
The entire process typically only takes a few minutes.
Most doctors will end up scheduling a follow-up visit after your next period so they can just make sure everything’s going well.
To Make Sure It’s Still In Place, Check For The Strings Periodically
It’s very rare for the IUD to slip out of place, but you should periodically check to make sure the strings are still in place.
If they are not, call your doctor to see what’s up.
Get An STI Test Before You Get The IUD
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is most likely to occur around the time of insertion, and it’s most often the result of a sexually transmitted disease.
Well, that’s because BOTH chlamydia and gonorrhea can be totally symptomless. And if left untreated, it can lead to PID.
Your doctor is likely to test you for chlamydia and gonorrhea right before inserting the IUD, and if you come back positive, it’s fine as long as you treat the infections immediately.
Note: IUDs do not protect against HIV and STIs.
There Are A Few Serious (But Rare) Side Effects Associated W/ IUDs
Perforation – When the IUD attaches to or goes through the wall of the uterus. Studies show that it occurs in less than 1% of people with IUDs.
It’s slightly more common if:
- You’re breastfeeding
- Have an oddly shaped uterus
- If you just have an inexperienced provider
If you experience severe pain during or after insertion, make sure to inform your doctor.
Expulsion – The IUD comes out partially or completely.
Talk to your doctor if you think this has happened or if you’re experiencing any pain.
It’s also possible to develop ovarian cysts with the hormonal IUD, but these typically disappear on their own.
Your Health Insurance Should Cover IUDs – But They Might Not
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, your insurance company SHOULD cover all FDA–approved birth control methods, including the IUD, at NOT cost.
There are some exceptions to this like if you have a grandfathered plan or a plan through a company with an exemption.
Just make sure you call your insurance company before your appointment so you are completely aware of the potential costs.
If you do not have insurance, the IUD can be very costly.
If You Do Get Pregnant While You Have An IUD – It’s Very Likely To Be Ectopic
With IUDs, there is a failure rate of less than 1%.
So that still means there’s a very small chance of getting pregnant.
If you do get pregnant with an IUD, it’s more likely to be an ectopic pregnancy where the embryo implants outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes.
So if you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor immediately.