Birth Control Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) (cont.)
Omnia M Samra, MD
Bryan D Cowan, MD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Lee P Shulman, MD
IN THIS ARTICLE
Benefits and Drawbacks of an IUD
How effective are IUDs?
The IUD is one of the most effective kinds of birth control available. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, only about 8 of 1,000 women who use the copper IUD become pregnant in the first year of use. According to Planned Parenthood, fewer than 3 women out of 100 who use the progestin IUD become pregnant during the first year of use. The success rate for women using the LNg IUD system is even greater. About 1 in 1,000 women who use the LNg IUD become pregnant in the first year of use. With continued use, even fewer pregnancies occur. A woman can increase her protection by checking the IUD string regularly and talking with her doctor immediately if she notices a problem.
Advantages of IUDs
Disadvantages of IUDs
A doctor must insert and remove an IUD. Serious complications from IUD use are rare.
IUDs come out during the first year of use in about 5% of women who use them. This is most likely to happen during the menstrual period and in women who have previously given birth. Women using IUDs should check their pads or tampons daily while menstruating and feel regularly to make sure the string is in place. If an IUD is expelled unnoticed, a woman may easily become pregnant. If pregnancy occurs while an IUD is still in place, the risk of miscarriage is 50% greater. This risk is decreased by 25% if the IUD is taken out as soon as possible. If the IUD is not removed, a risk of serious infection to the woman exists.
Ectopic pregnancies in IUD users are half as likely as they are in women using no birth control. Ectopic pregnancies are more likely in women who use Progestasert than copper IUDs; however, the overall risk remains less than for women who do not use birth control. Of those using Progestasert who become pregnant, about half of the pregnancies are ectopic. However, to reiterate, the risk of ectopic pregnancy is much less than it is in women who do not use any contraception. Women using IUDs who suspect they may be pregnant should contact their clinicians immediately.
An IUD may puncture the wall of the uterus when it is inserted. This occurs in 1-3 of 1,000 insertions. Cramping and backache may occur in the first few hours after an IUD is placed. Bleeding may occur for a couple of weeks after an IUD is placed. Some women have increased menstrual pain and heavy periods while using the copper IUD, but these symptoms are decreased in those using the hormonal IUD. Pelvic inflammatory disease is also possible with IUD use, especially if a woman is not in a monogamous relationship and has an increased risk of transmission of a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
IUDs do not protect against STDs. STDs can be worse in women who have IUDs, and the chance of getting an STD may be higher in women who use IUDs during the first 4 months after they are placed. IUDs are best for women in relationships in which both partners are monogamous.
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