Choosing Your Birth Control- Part 3

Intrauterine Devices

A hand holding two different types of IUDs for comparison

Considering the IUD can be used as a hormonal AND non-hormonal birth control, we decided to do a post dedicated to the IUD only.

The IUD is a tiny “T” shaped device that is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are currently 2 types of IUDs available on the market today. The hormonal IUD and the  copper IUD.

How it works

The copper IUD does not contain any hormones and is effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 12 years. The hormonal IUD contains the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation and thickening the cervical mucus. The hormonal IUD can last from 3-6 years depending on the brand.

Both types of IUD change the way the sperm cells move to prevent them from reaching the egg by causing the uterus to secrete thickened mucous.

The challenges

For some individuals, there is a 3-6 month adjustment period to the IUD. These side effects can include: cramping, spotting between periods, and heavier periods.

The IUD is not a 100% effective method of birth control. There are instances in which pregnancy still occurs and the IUD can be seen embedded in the amniotic sac after birth. Additionally, they do not protect against STIs, and they should be used in conjunction with condoms to prevent STIs.

Possible risks include infection, the IUD slipping partially or fully out, and in rare situations the IUD may become embedded or poke through the uterus and require surgical removal.

If you have been diagnosed with any previous pelvic infections that spread to your uterus and other reproductive organs- IUD’s may not be an option for you. When you have doubts, always check with your care provider!

Placement and Removal

To place an IUD, a pelvic exam is begun. The IUD is inserted into the uterus through the cervix with the upper portion serving as anchor. The tail will hang down into the vaginal canal, and these tails will need to be checked prior top intercourse. These tails are also used to remove the IUD.

Non-hormonal and non-invasive birth control options are available as well, and we will discuss them in our next post, linked below.

Birth Control Part 4 -Fertility Awareness


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