What is an Intrauterine Device (IUD)?
When it comes to birth control, the Intrauterine Device (IUD) offers a safe, effective and reversible protection against pregnancy. There are currently two types of IUDs available for women; the hormonal IUD and the copper IUD. Let’s look more closely at each of these options.
The Hormonal IUD:
This type of IUD is replaced once every 5 years to ensure protection against pregnancy. This device releases a small amount of progestin into the uterus which thickens the cervical mucus to decrease the chance of sperm entering the cervix and keeps the lining of the uteurs thin, making it less likely for fertilized egg to implant.
The Copper IUD:
This IUD only requires replacement every 10 years. The device works by releasing a small amount of copper into the uterus to prevent the egg from being fertilized or attaching to the wall of the uterus. The copper substance also works to prevent sperm from entering the fallopian tubes and decreases the sperm’s ability to fertilize an egg.
Whichever IUD you and your physician decide is best for you, the process of insertion is similar. For these devices, your physician will put the IUD in a long, plastic tube and place this through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. Here, the IUD is released and opens into place as the tube is withdrawn. Once the device is in place, be sure to discuss the processes of checking to ensure the “string” or “tail” is in place.
There are several instances which may prevent you from using an IUD. If these descriptions fit you, speak to your physician about another method of birth control:
- You are pregnant
- Have had pelvic inflammatory disease in the past 3 months prior to insertion
- Have abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Have had a pelvic infection in the last 3 months prior to insertion
- Have an STD
- Have certain liver conditions (hormonal IUD)
- Are allergic to any aspect of the IUD
- Have uterine fibroids
Overall, this is a good choice of pregnancy prevention for many women. As a whole, during the first year of use, about 8/1000 women using a copper IUD and 1/1000 women using the hormonal IUD become pregnant. If you have additional questions about this process and if it may be a good option for you, give us a call or schedule an appointment!