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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 health-care professional.
  • Before having an IUD inserted, you will undergo pregnancy testing and testing to rule out pelvic infection.
  • IUDs are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • IUDs are a long-term reversible methods 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).

IUD Pictures

Intrauterine device (IUD)
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 United States?

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.

Hormonal IUDs

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.

Copper IUDs

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 11/17/2017

Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) for Birth Control:

Birth Control Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) - Experience

Why did you choose an intrauterine device (IUD) as your form of birth control?

IUDs for Birth Control - Complications

What complications have you experienced using an IUD?

IUD - Side Effects

What was your experience with IUD side effects?

IUD Insertion

Before and during the procedure, the doctor usually:

  • Explains the procedure, risks, and benefits of the IUD.
  • Gives you a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen.
  • Has you lie on the exam table on your back with your feet in stirrups as you would for a pelvic exam or Pap test.

SOURCE: Healthwise

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