What you need to know about IUDs

What you need to know about IUDs

Move over diaphragm. Watch out the Pill. There’s a contraceptive on the market that’s made a big comeback in the U.S. and it’s regained more popularity than ever before.

So what’s this form of birth control? It’s the intrauterine device, better known as the IUD, and it’s recently become the long-acting contraceptive device recommended as the first choice of birth control for sexually active teenage girls from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

It has also become the fastest growing form of birth control increasing to 5.6 percent, which is seven times the usage from 1995, according to National Center for Health Statistics. And because the data was compiled before the Affordable Care Act’s no copay birth control law, Planned Parenthood says they expect the numbers to even be higher.

But before you decide if an IUD is the right choice for you, learn more about the contraceptive.

What is an IUD?
An IUD is a small, T-shaped birth control device that is the size of a quarter. It’s made of flexible plastic. There are two types of IUDs containing: copper (called ParaGard) and progestin (Mirena and the newest one on the market, Skyla).

How does it work?
There are two ways the IUD works. The copper in ParaGard (intrauterine copper contraceptive) interferes with sperm movement and egg fertilization without using hormones.

While the progestin hormone in Mirena and Skyla are released in small amounts into the uterus to thicken your cervical mucus and prevent sperm movement, reducing sperm survival and thins the lining of the uterus. Mirena may also help treat heavy periods, which reduces the monthly thickening of the uterine lining.

All of the devices are FDA-approved and 99 percent effective.

Who can get an IUD?
Almost every female can get an IUD. The only exceptions are woman who have Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) or an active Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD), a woman who is already pregnant or may be pregnant or a woman who may have problems with her uterus, like a disease or malformation, or if she has abnormal bleeding.

What’s the insertion and removal process?
The insertion process is non-surgical. And obstetrician/gynecologist can insert the IUD into the uterus as quick as 10 minutes. There is minimal discomfort, but ibuprofen is recommended before the process.

The removal process is fast and quick. The strings attached to the IUD help your physician remove the device without any surgery. You should never remove an IUD yourself.

The ParaGard copper IUD can be used for up to 10 years. The Mirena IUD can be used up to five years and the Skyla IUD can be used up to three years.

What are the side effects?
Some women who use the IUD have more bleeding during and between their periods. The copper IUD also can cause cramps. Cramps can be helped by an over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen or naproxen. The cramps can go away after the first few months as the uterus gets used to the IUD. Some women who use the hormone IUD notice that after a while their period gets short and light, and some women may have their period stop completely.

Experts say that although the intrauterine device can be a quick fix to not having to take the Pill daily, consulting with your physician is the first step.

“Understanding their wants for the intrauterine device and discussing the contraceptive alternatives helps me as a doctor to determine if they are the right type of patient for the IUD,” says Dr. Robert Rosenberg, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill.

“It’s safe, popular and cost-effective for a woman at a stage in her life when getting pregnant is not an option,” he adds.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.