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Advantages and Disadvantages of Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)


Advantages and Disadvantages of Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

The following table lists the advantages and disadvantages of using intrauterine devices (IUDs) as a birth control method.

Deciding about the IUD birth control method
Consideration IUDs
Advantages
  • More than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy1
  • Most cost-effective method of birth control over time
  • Easy to use
  • Does not require interruption of foreplay or intercourse
  • Does not require cooperation of sexual partner
  • Safe to use while breast-feeding
  • Can be removed whenever you have problems or want to stop using it. Fertility returns with the first ovulation cycle following IUD removal.
  • Hormonal IUD can relieve heavy menstrual bleeding and cramping in most women
  • Copper IUD can be used for emergency contraception within 5 days of unprotected intercourse
  • Can be inserted after a normal vaginal delivery, a cesarean section, or a first-trimester abortion
Disadvantages
  • Costs several hundred dollars for insertion. (This cost may be covered by your health insurance. Some community clinics may offer insertion and removal at a reduced rate or free to low-income clients.) If the IUD is expelled, it costs just as much to get a new one. Having an IUD removed is also costly. However, if an IUD is used for 5 years or longer, it is the most cost-effective form of birth control.
  • Only a health professional can remove the IUD. Never attempt to remove the IUD yourself or allow a partner to try to remove it.
  • Does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or HIV. (A condom is needed for STD protection.)
  • When inserted, can spread a genital infection into the uterus, leading to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) in the first months after insertion. This is why you are screened for STDs before getting an IUD.

References

Citations

  1. Grimes DA (2007). Intrauterine devices (IUDs). In RA Hatcher et al., eds., Contraceptive Technology, 19th ed., pp. 117–143. New York: Ardent Media.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last RevisedJune 28, 2011

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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