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Birth Control Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) (cont.)


How is an IUD removed?

You should never try to remove an IUD yourself because serious damage can result. A health-care professional usually can remove an IUD very simply by carefully pulling the string ends at a certain angle. This causes the IUD arms to fold up and the IUD to slide out through the cervix. If the IUD is being replaced, a new one can usually be inserted immediately.

Rarely, the cervix may need to be dilated and a grasping instrument is used to free the IUD. If this occurs, a local anesthetic is used. Very rarely, hysteroscopic surgery may be necessary, where a small telescope is used to help remove the IUD.

What kind of doctor do I see if I want an IUD?

A gynecologist is the type of doctor who would insert an IUD.

Where do I go to get an IUD?

Women who are interested in using IUDs for birth control should contact their private doctor or local Planned Parenthood health center. IUDs may be inserted by some primary care providers as well as by gynecologists. Not all health-care professionals insert IUDs, so ask in advance.

How much does an IUD cost?

Please inquire about cost and insurance coverage. At some clinics, price may be based on income. Medicaid covers these services. The out-of-pocket cost for the exam and insertion of the IUD can range from $0 to $1000, depending upon your insurance coverage. Hormonal IUDs tend to cost more than the copper IUD. The costs are less per year than many other forms of reversible birth control.

What are the advantages of IUDs?

Advantages of copper IUDs (ParaGard)

  • The copper IUD is the most commonly used type of IUD worldwide.
  • It can be left in the body for up to 10 years.
  • It can be removed at any time if a woman wishes to become pregnant or if she does not want to use it anymore.
  • The arms of this IUD contain some copper, which is slowly released into the uterus.
  • Side effects of the copper IUD can include heavier periods and worsening of menstrual cramps.

Advantages of hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Skyla)

The Mirena or Skyla IUDs contain progesterone hormones, which cause cervical mucus to thicken to prevent sperm from entering the cervix and reaching the egg. Hormonal IUDs reduce the risk of tubal pregnancies and pelvic inflammatory disease. They also dramatically decrease menstrual blood loss. Mirena is approved for up to five years of use, and Skyla for up to three years.

  • They can be removed at any time if a woman decides she wishes to become pregnant or if she does not want to use it anymore.
  • Hormones are in the main stem of the IUD and are released slowly into the uterus.
  • Side effects of hormonal IUDs can include irregular periods for 3-6 months after insertion.
  • Hormonal IUDs tend to reduce menstrual flow by up to 90% and may stop periods altogether in some cases.

How effective are IUDs?

IUDs have been shown to be over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. A woman can increase her protection by checking the IUD string regularly and talking with her doctor immediately if she notices a problem.

What are the advantages of IUDs?

  • According to Planned Parenthood, more than 95% of women who use IUDs are happy with them.
  • A woman using an IUD is always protected from pregnancy with nothing to remember. She does not need to remember to take a pill every day, for instance.
  • IUDs start working right away and can be removed at any time.
  • IUDs are relatively inexpensive.
  • IUDs can be inserted 4 weeks after the delivery of a baby or after an abortion.
  • Women who use a copper IUD after childbirth can breastfeed safely.
  • An IUD is not felt by a woman or her partner during sex.
  • Women who cannot use birth control pills because of cigarette smoking or conditions like hypertension (high blood pressure) may be able to use an IUD.
  • Many women experience less menstrual blood loss and pain with hormonal IUDs.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/17/2015

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