One of the major issues that a woman in today’s generation faces is birth control. Many females feel skeptic of dealing with this issue without the help of pills, oblivious of the fact that taking pills might actually disrupt their health. One of the simplest and safest methods for birth control is IUD, or intrauterine device, which may also be known as an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD or ICD) or coil.
What is an IUD?
An IUD is small, which mostly takes the look of the shape of “T.” The device is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from actually reaching the eggs and fertilizing them.
Effective equally among adolescents as adult women, who have not had children yet, IUD is a long-acting reversible birth control (LARC). LARC methods are proven to result in greater satisfaction among women. Thereby, these methods are preferred by family planning providers than the other general female users. The best part of using IUDs is that it is safe. And once it is removed, fertility rate returns to normal speedily among users, even if it was used for an extended period.
Types of IUD
Differing according to location, IUDs can be found carrying a variety of names. In the United States, though, two types of IUDs are commonly available:
Usually consisting of brands such as Skyla, Mirena, Liletta, and Kyleena, these types of IUDs are Progestogen-releasing ones. They work by releasing small amounts of levonorgestrel, which is the same hormone that is used in a couple of contraceptive pills.
The mechanism of the device is such that it makes the uterus not fit to live in for the sperm. This type of IUD has a lesser failure rate than the non-hormonal ones, as proved by reports.
The Non-hormonal IUDs are the ones which contain Copper in their device. It goes by the brand Paragard. Framed in the shape of “T,” the device has copper collars or sleeves in it or/and is encompassed with pure electrolytic copper wire. The wire helps in distorting the sperm so that their motility is destroyed, which prevents them from fertilizing the eggs.
The arms assists in keeping IUD intact inside the upper part of the uterus. These types of IUDs are beneficial and also highly active during emergencies since they provide emergency contraception after up to around five days of having unprotected sex.
Available in a variety of sizes and shapes, these IUDs last much longer than the hormonal ones. Since the device contains no hormones, it can be used appropriately after pregnancy, when breastfeeding has to be done.
Fertility rate jumps back to normal after one removes this device. However, it cannot be used to disrupt already implanted embryos since the working involves preventing fertilization in the first stage itself. In spite of all these advantages, a few side effects may be faced by users such as heavy menstrual periods and painful cramps.
Who can use IUDs?
It is recommended to almost all healthy women to use IUDs. However, one should avoid using IUDs if there is a high probability of catching an STD through a variety of partners. IUDs do not help in protecting a person from catching STD. Sizes and shapes of IUDs may also pose a problem for various numbers of women. However, women having the following concerns are not advised to use IUDs:
- STD or recent pelvic infection.
- Cervical or Uterus cancer
- Vaginal bleeding.
Nonetheless, certain precautions also need to be kept in mind before choosing the type of IUD you wish to use. For example, you cannot opt to use the Copper IUD if you are allergic to Copper. Also, for that matter, you have Wilson’s disease because you cannot afford to have any more amount of Copper in your body. If you are suffering from liver disease or have the risk of having breast cancer or already have it, then it is advised not to use the hormonal IUD. Discuss your requirements with IUD specialist and see what suits your body.
How do IUDs Look and Work?
Taking the shape of “T”, an intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic device which is positioned in the top part of the uterus to prevent fertilization of the egg by sperm.
The T-shaped device has a plastic ring attached to it at the end of the device. The ring helps later when the device is to be removed and also, it ensures that it is correctly placed. Since the string helps in the easy removal of the IUD, it makes the device an uncomplicated reversible form of contraception. One should always take the aid of a medical practitioner to remove an IUD.
The working mechanism of the hormonal and non-hormonal device differs; nonetheless, the precise working mechanism of the contraceptive functioning of IUDs is yet not known.
How is an IUD put in?
It is recommended that you take a pre-insertion appointment from the doctor or clinicians to discuss the procedure and how to prepare yourself. Depending on the medical history, the doctor may conduct STI tests to rule out the possible risk of pregnancy or STIs. Clinicians, in general, prefer the IUD insertion while the clients are on period, for the safest reason that your cervix is the softest during your menstrual cycle.
Once your doctor has all your medical information and determines the safety of the IUD device for you, your doctor will insert the device into your uterus on a decided date. You may be suggested to take certain medications to prevent cramps before the procedure begins, for example, ibuprofen. The reason being, the IUD insertion can be uncomfortable and painful, even though the procedure is nearly 5-20 minutes long. The insertion procedure is as simple as a mere small uncomplicated surgery.
- Firstly, a small Pap smear test is taken. Then, shifting to the insertion procedure, your feet will be put up in stirrups for better access.
- A speculum will be placed in the vagina to hold it open for the doctor to insert the IUD in your vagina in a small tube. The tube will be moved up through the cervix and finally, placed into your uterus.
- After the device is placed correctly, the doctor will try and push the IUD further into the uterus. Then they pull the tube out of the vagina. The attached strings from the device will hang into the vagina up to 1 to 2 inches.
The procedure might call in for cramps during, and even after the procedure takes place, and it may also be uncomfortable for you. You might have a small amount of bleeding too. However, they usually go away within a few days after the procedure. You might also feel a bit lightheaded after the insertion.
You can have your IUD placed any time; however, it is suggested to have it placed while you are in your period. Because your cervix remains the softest and most open. Also, it is during this time that it is least likely for you to get pregnant.
After the IUD is properly inserted inside your uterus, you can go about your normal life without any hesitation. All types of physical activities can be hopped into right after you get comfortable such as swimming, cycling, etc. The position of the device does not change, nor does any physical harm occur due to any physical activity. Tampons and menstrual cups can also be used after the IUD is placed.
Note: If you are someone who cannot handle pain very well, it is fair not to get an IUD. One can opt for other birth control methods. However, hearing about pain can make things look scarier than it actually is. Therefore, it is important that you also look for the experience of the people who did not undergo much pain (or discomfort was not much of a deal).
How Long Does It Last?
The lasting of an IUD depends on the kind of device you are using. For example, the device from the brand Skyla lasts for up to 3 years. IUDs from Kyleena, Mirena and Liletta last up to 5 years, and ParaGard lasts the longest up to 10 years.
How Effective are IUDs?
For over many years, IUDs are known for being the best birth control options, which is readily available for females. This also means the chance of getting pregnant is 1 in 100 people. With IUD, there is no room for mistakes like using it incorrectly or birth control pills.
You are protected 24/7, and for 4-10 years depending on the type of IUD you choose to get. All you need is to keep track of the insertion and removal period of your IUD.
When used as birth control
Since it is reversible contraception as well as one of the best methods of birth control, most women prefer to use IUDs. There is a chance of the IUD being effective for more than 99%. With a failure rate of less than 0.8%, IUDs tend to be more effective than other birth control methods. The reason is that there is no possibility of making a mistake in using it.
For example, you might forget to take your contraceptive pill or use a condom in the wrong manner, etc. Once you place the IUD into the uterus, you will remain tension and hassle-free up to 3 to 10 years, depending on the type of device you are using.
You will be protected from getting pregnant all 24 hours of the day. It is so effective that you can even forget about the device unless you keep track of the date of insertion and removal.
When used as contraception
The hormonal type of device cannot be used as emergency contraception. However, the copper IUD can work as an emergency contraception in the most effective manner. Within five days of having unprotected sex, you can get the device placed into your uterus if you want to prevent getting pregnant up to 12 years. This has a 99.99% effective rate of preventing you from getting pregnant.
What are the Benefits of IUDs?
- Effectiveness – The rate of effectiveness (99%) of IUDs is much higher than the other non-permanent forms of birth control. The failure rate ranges from 0.2% to 0.8%. Thus, IUDs work as both, sterilization as well as birth control implant.
- Convenient – IUDs are such that they need no care, unlike other methods. There is no need to keep track of the pills you take or worry about putting the condom right. You can simply put the device and forget about it.
- Reversible – These are reversible contraceptive devices so that as soon as you decide to get pregnant, you can get it removed. The device does not affect your fertility by any chance. As soon as you get your IUD removed you can get pregnant.
- Healthier menstrual cycles – The hormonal devices help in putting your period cramps and flow in check. The women who suffer from heavy periods can get some relief after using IUDs. It also helps with pregnancy-related issues.
- Emergency contraception – The ParaGard device is one of the most effective methods of preventing pregnancy if it used within five days of having unprotected sex. This option can be opted for if you want to get birth control for 12 years after that.
- Long-term – The durability of the IUDs ranges from 3 to 12 years, depending on the type of device used.
- Affordability – Since the insertion of the IUD is a one-time job, women do not need frequent visits to the doctor or medications. Therefore, this method is quite affordable, especially if you have health insurance to cover it.
- Flexibility – The insertion requires no specific time of the month. It can be used at any time as long as there is no possibility of you getting pregnant.
Advantages of Using IUDs
- You will have satisfaction with the effective rate. They are relatively available at an affordable rate.
- Hassle-free since you do not have to remember taking pills or such issues.
- Starts being effective right from the moment of insertion and stops as soon as it is removed.
- Since a copper IUD does not contain any hormones, it does not affect the health of the woman using it. She can normally breastfeed her child after the removal.
- The person using it cannot feel the device, nor can her partner feel it during the sex.
- These devices are reversible so much so that one can get pregnant as soon as the device is removed.
- These devices also last for a long time, ranging from 3 to 12 years. It also depends on the type of device you are using.
Disadvantages of Using IUDs
- Certain complications might arise during the insertion of the device into your uterus, such as the device might puncture the wall of the uterus, although this happens very rarely.
- Almost 5% of the women have reported falling out of the device during the first year of the insertion. This happens mainly when a woman is on her period or has already had childbirth.
- Cramps, backache, and bleeding are some of the side effects that might occur for some time after the insertion.
- IUDs do not protect women from catching STDs. In fact, a woman may be more prone to catching an STD if she is not in a monogamous relationship during the first four months of the insertion.
- IUDs can also lead to Pelvic inflammatory disease, although the hormonal devices tend to protect against such diseases.
Frequently Asked Questions about IUDs
- Can the IUD fall out on its own?
There is the slightest chance of the IUD coming out of the uterus during the first year of the insertion. It can happen especially during your periods or if you have had childbirth previously.
- Will my partner or I feel it during sex?
No, neither your partner nor you will feel the device during the intercourse or even in your normal day-to-day life.
- Does the IUD make the woman infertile?
No, using an IUD does not make a woman infertile by any chance. It simply works by disrupting the sperms from getting fertilized.
- Is it safe to use tampons during my period if I have an IUD fitted?
Yes, it is absolutely safe to use tampons. The women should make sure that they change the tampons carefully so that they do not end up putting the threads of IUDs while removing it.
- Will I bleed after having an IUD fitted?
There might be the possibility of bleeding after the IUD is fitted for a few weeks. However, once the IUD settles properly, the bleeding will stop.
- Do all the IUDs protect against the Sexually Transmitted Disease?
IUDs do not protect against Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Using a condom is still considered to be the safest option. That is because it helps lower your chance of getting as well as spreading STDs. Hence, using condoms alone with IUD is the best way to control unwanted pregnancy as well as STD.
Women all across the United States, as well as the United Kingdom use IUDs as one of the safest and reliable sources of birth control. Women find the device safe and hassle-free. Since the efficiency rate is so high, the risk of getting pregnant also gets dissolved.
IUDs have become one of the beloved forms of birth control. The chances are that you are already aware of the benefits. Such as 99% effectiveness, convenience, ease of use, safe and long-acting of this device.
Health experts and IUD users swear by the device and the long term benefits. However, at the same time, it is also understandable if women are confused and afraid of insertion, pain and other after-effects. But, ultimately, you will need to make a choice that works perfectly for you.
An IUD is just the right choice for you someone who cannot remember to take birth control pills on a daily basis. Also, if they wants a steady birth control method. It is ok to be a little nervous about a foreign object inside your uterus, but if you get highly anxious about this idea, then IUD may not be for you. Think and discuss your choices with your gynaecologist.