Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) for Birth Control
IUD Quick Overview
- An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that
is inserted into a woman's uterus to prevent pregnancy.
- Two types of IUDs are available in the
US; 1) a copper-containing IUD, and IUDs that release hormones.
- IUDs must be inserted and removed by a
- Before having an IUD inserted, you will
undergo pregnancy testing and testing to rule out pelvic infection.
- IUDs are over 99% effective in
- IUDs are a long-term reversible
of birth control.
- Side effects of IUDs depend upon the type of IUD that is inserted.
- You should check every month to ensure
your IUD is still in place.
- The placement of your IUD can be done
in the doctor's office.
- Depending on the type, some IUDs can be
left in place for up to 10 years.
What is an IUD?
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small T-shaped plastic device that is
placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. A plastic string is attached to the
end to ensure correct placement and for removal. IUDs are an easily reversible
form of birth control, and they can be easily removed. However, an IUD should only be removed by a medical professional. An IUD is a form of long-acting
reversible contraception (LARC).
Intrauterine device (IUD)
How does an IUD work?
The precise mechanism of the contraceptive action of IUDs is not known, and
hormonal and copper IUDs work in different ways. Neither type of IUD affects
ovulation or the menstrual cycle (period).
What are the types of IUDs available in the US?
Currently in the United States, 2 types of IUDs are available; copper (ParaGard) and hormonal (Skyla or Mirena).
Approximately 2% of women who use birth control in the United States currently
use IUDs. Hormonal IUDs release progesterone hormones.
With hormonal IUDs, a small amount of progestin, a hormone similar to the
natural hormone progesterone, is released into the uterine lining. This hormone
thickens cervical mucus and makes it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix.
Hormonal IUDs also slow down the growth of the uterine lining, making it
inhospitable for fertilized eggs.
With a copper IUD, a small amount of copper is released into the uterus.
Copper IUDs may prevent sperm from being able to go into the egg by immobilizing
the sperm on the way to the Fallopian tubes.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2015
Must Read Articles Related to Birth Control Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
Birth Control Barrier Methods
The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Birth control barrier methods include the male condom, female condom, diaphragm, cervical cap and sp...learn more >>
Birth Control Behavioral Methods
The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Behavioral methods that don't use hormones such as birth control pills or mechanical devices such as...learn more >>
Birth Control FAQs
The practice of birth control is as old as human existence. Your choice of birth control method involves factors such as how easy it is to use, safety, risks, c...learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) for Birth Control: