About The IUD
The IUD, which stands for “intrauterine device,” is one of the most effective forms of birth control today. It is a small t-shaped device that prevents more than 99% of pregnancies and requires no action on your part once you have it inserted.
The IUD is safe, effective, long-lasting, and completely reversible should you choose to have it removed. There are a few side effects, and depending on the brand you get, IUDs can last between 3-12 years.
There are currently two types of IUDs, which split off into five major brands: Paragard, Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and the newcomer, Kyleena. Paragard is the only "non-hormonal IUD," meaning it does not use hormones to prevent pregnancies. Instead, it uses copper. The other four are "hormonal IUDs" that use, you guessed it, hormones that stop sperm from fertilizing the egg. Paragard and Mirena are the most popular, but all five are equally effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Go to Types Of IUDs to get more information on each brand.We know you're busy, so we've put together several infographics that present all the essentials in a quick fashion.
HOW DO IUDs WORK?It differs by type.
The non-hormonal Paragard uses copper, which is toxic to sperm. No sperm, no fertilization.
The hormonal IUDs use a hormone called levonorgestrel, which thickens cervical mucus to impede sperm, and sometimes prevents ovulation. If you're worried about introducing extra hormones to your system, don't be - while some women do experience side effects, the levels of levonorgestrel contained in the hormonal IUDs is so small that most effects abate after 3 months.
Getting an IUD usually requires two trips to a clinic. After finding a match in our directory, you can contact the doctor and schedule a consultation appointment. He or she will ask you about your medical history, then schedule a follow-up for the actual insertion. (NOTE: some doctors do same-day insertions now!) The insertion takes only a minute or so, but according to many women, it can be pretty uncomfortable. Here are some firsthand accounts from women who got the IUD. Note that while these women experienced pain, all of them stood by their decision in the end.
Let's say you've gone through the insertion process and everything went well. Now what? Be prepared for some cramping, aching, and discomfort as your body adjusts to this new thing in your body. If these side effects continue after 2-3 months, you should go back to your doctor and get your IUD checked.
Also, it's a good idea to see if you can feel the strings of the IUD, which should hang about 2 inches down into your vagina. These are how the doctor will eventually remove the IUD, so if you can't feel them, it might mean the device has been dislodged or improperly inserted.
But again, this is very uncommon, so don't let this deter you from getting an IUD! Visit the Advantages and Disadvantages page to see why the device is becoming increasingly popular.