The IUD is a long-lasting reversible contraceptive that provides uninterrupted protection for several years
The IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, t-shaped plastic device that our Austin ob/gyns insert into your uterus. At the end of the IUD, there is a plastic string which extends into your vagina. You can feel for the string to assure yourself that the device is still in place, and your doctor will also use the string to remove the device.
How effective is the IUD?
Women using the IUD have less than a 1% chance of getting pregnant each year they use the device. It is known to gynecologists as a “set it and forget it” form of birth control because once it is placed, you don’t have to worry about it for the next several years.
However, one very important aspect of the IUD is that it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (or STD’s), so women should continue to use condoms unless they are in a monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STD’s.
There are two types: the hormonal IUD and the copper IUD
Both types basically work by affecting the way sperm move, thus preventing them from reaching and fertilizing the egg. An IUD also helps prevent the egg from implanting successfully in the uterus by thinning the uterine lining.
The hormonal IUD (Mirena® or Skyla®) releases progestin into your uterus. This hormone may also prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg at all, thus preventing ovulation. A hormonal IUD may be particularly beneficial for women who have heavy periods with severe cramps because, over time, most women will either quit having periods or have very light periods when using this device. On the other hand, women who have severe anxiety or depression may want to avoid hormonal contraceptives because there is some evidence that the hormones may aggravate those conditions. In addition, the hormones can also aggravate acne problems. Mirena® can remain in the uterus for five years, and Skyla® can be used for three years.
The copper IUD (ParaGard®) is effective for ten years. It works by safely releasing small amounts of copper into your uterus. Another benefit of a copper IUD is that it can be used for emergency contraception. If a woman has an IUD implanted up to five days after having unprotected sex, it is 99.9% effective at preventing a pregnancy, with the added benefit of providing protection for several years.
What to expect when you get an IUD
Some women feel some discomfort when the IUD is inserted. Our Austin ob/gyns often advise patients to take acetaminophen or another over-the-counter pain medication before they come to our office. In addition, some women may feel dizzy during and after the procedure, so you may want to consider bringing a friend or family member with you to drive you home. After the procedure, you may experience irregular bleeding and spotting, as well as some cramping.
An IUD is a very effective birth control method that you may want to discuss with your Austin ob/gyn. Contact us to see one of our Renaissance Women’s Group ob/gyns.