Here’s what you need to know before getting an IUD
If you’re considering getting an IUD, there are a few important things you should know.
An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, flexible contraceptive device that is inserted into the uterus. It is typically made of plastic and is “T-shaped.” IUDs are known to be the most reliable and reversible method of contraception available.
“When getting an IUD, a woman should not be pregnant and should have a normal uterine anatomy; most women can have it done,” says Dr. Rosally Starr, an OB/GYN and Director of Obstetrics at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “You should not get an IUD if you have unexplained uterine bleeding, an active sexually transmitted infection or pelvic inflammatory disease.”
A common hesitation when considering the procedure is a fear of pain or discomfort.
“The level of pain associated with the procedure depends on the individual. Most people can expect some discomfort, depending on where they are in their menstrual cycle or whether they’ve had children. It may be less uncomfortable for women who have given birth,” says Dr. Starr. “The pain can be compared to menstrual cramps, and the discomfort may last anywhere from minutes to a day.”
There are also risks associated with the IUD, which, though uncommon, may be serious.
“It may cause an abnormal bleeding pattern. It has the potential to fall out, or it can embed itself in the wall of the uterus or perforate the uterus and end up somewhere in the abdomen,” says Dr. Starr. “If you do get pregnant with an IUD, you are at risk for an ectopic pregnancy [where the pregnancy implants outside of the uterus].”
Using an IUD could also affect a woman’s period.
“When using an IUD that contains progesterone, women may not get their periods, while copper IUDs can result in heavier periods,” says Dr. Starr.
If you’re interested in getting an IUD, the best thing to do is talk to your physician to see if it might be right for you. Find an OB/GYN near you today.
About the Author
Adila Esaak is a senior at Loyola University of Chicago. This spring, she will receive her B.S. in Health Systems Management. During her time at Loyola, she worked at the university’s Wellness Center and started a chapter organization for underprivileged children and women in India called Aahana. In her spare time, she enjoys going to arcades, cuddling with her cat and exploring Chicago.