IUDs (Intra-uterine devices)
What is an IUD?
An IUD is an intrauterine device that provides effective, long-acting contraception. It’s a tiny, T-shaped device (around 3cm long), that is inserted into your uterus. It is a safe, long-term, very effective, and reversible birth control method. There are two types of IUDs: copper and hormonal. Non-hormonal IUDs can be used as an emergency birth control method up to 5 days after sex.
How effective is an IUD?
An IUD is one of the most effective contraception methods – it is 99% effective and lasts between 3 to 12 years, depending on the model.
What are the benefits of IUDs?
- IUDs are very effective
- They are convenient – they require no on-going maintenance
- You can become pregnant quickly after taking out an IUD
- Hormonal IUDs can help reduce pain and bleeding during your periods
- The copper IUD doesn’t have hormones
- The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception (see below)
How does it work?
- Hormonal IUDs work by releasing hormones that make your cervical mucus thicker. This additional mucus blocks the spermatozoids so they can’t reach and fertilize an egg. The result is you don’t get pregnant.
- Copper IUDs are hormone-free and can be used as an emergency method if inserted within 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex. It is the most emergency effective method and it works by immobilizing the sperm cells so they can’t fertilize eggs. Even better, it continues providing highly effective contraception for years after insertion, so if you want to stay protected – just leave it in!
How is it inserted? Is it safe?
The procedure must be done by a doctor or a nurse. After checking your medical history, and your vagina/cervix and uterus, the practitioner might test you for STDs (Sexually transmittable diseases). To insert the IUD, the nurse or doctor will use a speculum and a special inserter to put the IUD through your cervix and in your uterus. The procedure usually takes less than 5 minutes.
Most women feel some cramping or pain when the IUD is inserted. The level of pain depends on the person and may last for a few hours. Some people feel a little bit dizzy during and after; you may ask a close one to come with you and give yourself some time to relax afterward.
The IUD is a very safe contraception method for most women; however, it is not appropriate for everyone and you should talk to a healthcare provider to find out if it is safe for you.
What are the risks and disadvantages of getting an IUD?
Serious problems with IUDs are extremely rare, however, there are possible risks:
- The IUD slips out of the uterus or moves a little and creates a risk of pregnancy
- Possibility of infection if bacteria gets into the uterus during the insertion
- Pain when the IUD is inserted
- Cramping or backaches during a few days after the procedure
- Spotting between periods
- Irregular periods
- Heavier periods and worse menstrual cramps for copper IUDs
Also, it must be kept in mind that IUDs do not protect against STDs.
Is it effective right away?
After getting an IUD, you can start having sex again whenever you are ready, but you may feel some cramping.
If you get a copper IUD – you will be protected from pregnancy right away.
However, if you get a hormonal IUD, you are protected from pregnancy only if the IUD was inserted within the first 7 days of your period. If not, you should use alternative contraception for the first 7 days after insertion.
If you decide that you want to get pregnant, you can get your IUD removed and your fertility should go back to normal immediately. Some women report getting pregnant the month after removing their IUD.
Can all women have an IUD?
Women may not be able to get an IUD if they:
- Are infected with certain STDs or have a pelvic infection
- think they might be pregnant
- Have cervical cancer that hasn’t been treated yet
- Have uterus cancer
- Have had a pelvic infection after childbirth or an abortion in the past 3 months
- Have a copper allergy (for copper IUDs)
- Had breast cancer (for hormonal IUDs)
- Have a uterus shape or size that will make the insertion too difficult (very rare)
DKT WomanCare distributes IUDs, please visit our product portfolio. We both propose hormonal and copper IUDs.