Did you know a reversible long-term birth control exists that trumps pregnancy prevention over tubal ligation? It’s called an intrauterine device or IUD. Many women prefer IUD insertion over birth control because you don’t have to remember taking your birth control every day, week, month, or even year. Plus, providers can remove IUDs at any time before its expiration date.
Types of IUDs
Two main types of IUDs exist:
- Has no hormones and lasts up to 10 years
An IUD gives many benefits to women who have hormonal side effects. These uncomfortable side effects include headaches, mood changes, and breast tenderness. Types of birth control such as the pill, patch or injection can heighten these side effects. Additionally, an IUD is one of the most effective types of birth control. An IUD’s effectiveness is more than 99 percent.
Progesterone IUDs release a small amount of progesterone locally into the uterus. That means you will have fewer hormones in your body, making hormonal side effects unlikely. The Mirena IUD, which has a little more progesterone, can also decrease your menstrual flow and reduce your menstrual cramping. Furthermore, some women stop having periods.
In addition, some women prefer to keep their regular menstrual cycles and thus don’t want to use hormones. The copper IUD has no hormones and still works by preventing fertilization. A common misconception is that is aborts a pregnancy. This is false as it prevents conception from occurring.
Who should get an IUD?
The IUD is a great option for all women, including teens and women who have never been pregnant. It does not lead to problems with getting pregnant in the future. It also works well for women in the final five to 10 years before menopause. Prior to menopause, periods often become heavier and more painful. The Mirena IUD can ease the transition to menopause by decreasing menstrual flow and pain.
However, some women should avoid using an IUD. They include women who have large fibroids in the uterus.
Providers insert the IUD into the uterus as an ob-gyn’s office typically during your period. If you have unpredictable periods, we recommend using reliable birth control for the two weeks leading up to your visit. Expect to have spotting and menstrual-like cramping during the procedure. Take ibuprofen before and after the procedure to help with the cramping. Lastly, you can return to normal activities later that day.
You can also get an IUD inserted immediately after a vaginal delivery or cesarean section. The expulsion risk is a little higher than waiting until your six-week post-delivery visit, but it is worth talking about with your ob-gyn.
The IUD can be easily removed at the ob-gyn’s office at any time. In the rare instance, the strings are not readily visible, an ultrasound is used to help remove the IUD. After the IUD is removed, you are able to get pregnant without delay.
Risks and side effects
The risks of using an IUD are very low. They include IUD expulsion (usually in the first few weeks after insertion) and incorrect placement outside of the uterus. While the progesterone IUD can decrease menstrual flow, it can also lead to irregular spotting or bleeding.
Contact a Women’s Care provider if you would like to discuss using an IUD.