Everything You Need To Know About The Birth Control Contraceptive IUD

Source – Axia Women’s Health

Birth control is how you prevent unwanted pregnancy. There are different types of birth control options out there that you can choose from that are most suitable to your personal preference and lifestyle needs.


Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 9th Dec 2021.

Everything You Need To Know About The Birth Control Contraceptive IUD

The IUD (intrauterine device) is a form of birth control that you may want to consider if you’re looking into your choices for birth control. IUDs aren’t for everyone, but they’re both successful and safe. They’re also very durable and have a very high success rate at preventing unwanted pregnancy.

What Is an IUD?

The term “intrauterine device" refers to a device that is placed within the uterus. An IUD is a device that goes within your uterus and is shaped like a “T" and about the size of a quarter. It works by preventing sperm from accessing and fertilising eggs, thereby preventing pregnancy.

There are five main types:

Liletta, Kyleena, Mirena, and Skyla are four of the types who release tiny quantities of the hormone progestin (levonorgestrel) into your body. Many birth control medications contain the same hormone. These IUDs tend to lighten your period and maybe a suitable choice if you experience heavy periods.

ParaGard, commonly known as the copper-T IUD, is the fifth option. It does not contain any hormones. Copper stimulates your immune system, creating a localised mild reaction that works to prevent pregnancy. It may make your periods heavier, particularly in the beginning. ParaGard, on the other hand, lasts longer than hormonal IUDs and has the least complications associated with it. 

How effective are IUDs?

Your chances of becoming pregnant are less than 1% if you utilise an IUD properly.

What are the benefits of IUDs?

  • They have a lengthy lifespan, most lasts 5 to 10 years.
  • They’re primarily trouble-free. You and your partner don’t have to worry about it after you’ve had one inserted.
  • It’s a one-time fee with no maintenance costs associated with it,
  • If you’re breastfeeding, you may use them without worry for your baby.

Who can use them?

Most healthy women may use an IUD. They’re best for women who only have one stable relationship and aren’t concerned about acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). IUDs do not prevent STDs.

You should not use an IUD if you:

  • Have a sexually transmitted infection (STD) or a recent pelvic infection.
  • You’re expecting a child.
  • You’ve been diagnosed with cervical or uterine cancer.
  • You’re experiencing uncontrollable vaginal bleeding.

If you have a copper allergy or Wilson’s disease, which causes your body to store too much copper, you can’t use the copper IUD.

Unless you have liver diseases, breast cancer, or STDs risk for breast cancer, hormonal IUDs are generally safe.

The size or shape of your uterus may make it difficult to implant an IUD in certain cases. 

How is an IUD inserted?

During an office appointment, your doctor will implant the IUD. They may advise you to take ibuprofen or another over-the-counter pain reliever a few hours before the procedure to prevent cramping.

The process begins in the same way as a Pap smear does. Your feet will be placed in stirrups. The doctor will next insert a speculum into the vaginal opening to keep it open. The IUD will be placed in a tiny tube inserted into your vaginal canal by the doctor. The tube will be moved up the cervix and into the uterus. The IUD will be pushed out of the tube, and the tube will be pulled out. The IUD’s strings will dangle 1-2 inches into the vaginal canal.

The procedure is unpleasant, and you may have cramping and bleeding, but these symptoms usually fade within a few days. Some women may have dizziness as a result of the discomfort.

Most IUDs may be inserted at any point throughout your cycle. However, having one place when you’re on your period may be more convenient. Your cervix is at its most open at this time. 

How soon do IUDs start working?

The ParaGard (copper IUD) is a non-hormonal device that begins working as soon as it is implanted.

Hormonal IUDs begin functioning right away if they are implanted during your period. Otherwise, it may take up to 7 days for this type of IUD to take action.

How long does one last?

This is dependent on the kind of IUD you get.

  • Three years for Skyla
  • Five years for Kyleena
  • 6 years for Liletta and Mirena
  • Ten years for ParaGard – Copper IUD

Will my periods change?

Many women have less cramping when they use hormonal IUDs. Some women have irregular spotting during the first few months after insertion of the IUD. Most women eventually have mild periods or no periods at all. Pregnancies are uncommon with IUDs, but if not having a period makes you fear that you’re pregnant all of the time, you may want to try a copper IUD instead.

Copper IUDs do not stop your periods, and you will still bleed monthly, or according to your regularly cycle. Periods may get heavier, and cramps may become worse if you use the copper IUD ParaGard. After a few months, this may subside. 

Can my partner feel it?

Your partner shouldn’t feel anything, but if they do, it’ll just be minimal touch with the IUD’s strings. There should be no problems as a result of this. The strings soften with time and may be shortened to make the IUD more comfortable.

Are there side effects?

IUDs are entirely safe. Some women have adverse effects, although they are usually minor. Severe issues with them are uncommon.

Some women experience dizziness when their doctor implants the IUD, although this should subside within a few minutes. You may anticipate period-like cramping for the first few days following insertion.

It’s very unlikely that you’ll get pregnant while using an IUD. However, if this occurs, you’re more likely to have a miscarriage, have an infection, or have early labour and delivery. You’re also more likely to have an ectopic pregnancy, which occurs when a fertilised egg implants outside of your uterus. Tell your doctor if you believe you’re pregnant or if you’re experiencing stomach pains or vaginal bleeding.

In the first year after getting an IUD, around 1 in 10 women may develop ovarian cysts. They’re generally harmless and disappear within three months on their own. On the other hand, some may induce bloating, oedema (swelling), or discomfort in the lower abdomen. When a cyst ruptures, it causes excruciating pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see a doctor.

An IUD increases your chances of developing the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), a uterine, fallopian tube, or ovarian infection. Abdominal pain, painful sex, foul vaginal discharge, heavy bleeding, chills, and fever are all symptoms. Notify your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms. To avoid more severe issues, it’s critical to treat PID as soon as possible.

An IUD may pierce through the wall of your uterus when your doctor inserts it, which is uncommon. It’s known as perforation. Your doctor will have to remove the IUD if this occurs. 

Can my IUD fall out?

During your regular office appointments, your doctor will examine your device. The IUD should be held in place by your cervix, but it may come out entirely or partially in rare instances.

This is more likely to happen if:

  • You don’t have any biological children.
  • You’re under the age of twenty.
  • After having a baby or having a second-trimester abortion, you had the IUD implanted.
  • You have uterine fibroids.
  • The size or form of your uterus is unique.

During your period, IUDs are more likely to come out. The gadget may be found on a pad or tampon. Make sure you can feel the strings regularly. It may have shifted if they seem shorter or longer they’re both successful and safe STDs if you can feel the IUD itself pressing on your cervix. If this occurs, see your doctor right away.

What if I want to have kids in the future?

Using an IUD should not prevent you from having children in the future. If you wish to get pregnant, have your IUD removed by your doctor. As soon as the IUD is removed, your period should return to normal. Find out more about IUDs and pregnancy.

How is an IUD removed?

In their office, your doctor will remove the IUD. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. You’ll be asked to place your feet in stirrups while the doctor removes the IUD using forceps. Cramping and bleeding are possible side effects, although they should subside in 1-2 days. 

Sources

  1. Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: “Health Matters Fact Sheets: Hormonal IUD."
  2. CDC: “How effective are birth control methods?"
  3. Mirena Prescribing Information.
  4. Skyla Prescribing Information.
  5. Liletta Prescribing Information.
  6. ParaGard Prescribing Information.
  7. Planned Parenthood: “IUD."
  8. Family Planning Council/Access Matters: “Facts About IUDs."
  9. Kids Health.org: “IUD."
  10. Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Health Matters Fact Sheets: Copper T IUD," “Non-hormonal Contraceptive Methods."
  11. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: “IUD."
  12. American Academy of Family Physicians: “Intrauterine Device (IUD)."
  13. Planned Parenthood: “IUD,” “When does an IUD start working?"
  14. Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation: “The Intrauterine Device (IUD)."
  15. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: “Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC): IUD and Implant."
  16. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Population Affairs: “Intrauterine Device (IUD) Fact Sheet."
  17. FDA: “Birth Control: Medicines To Help You."
  18. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: “Paragard Vs Mirena: Which IUD Is Best For You?"
  19. Center for Young Women’s Health: “Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs).”
  20. Contraception: “The safety of intrauterine devices among young women: a systematic review.”
  21. https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/iud-intrauterine-device

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