Intrauterine Devices are an excellent choice if you’re interested in conceiving sometime in the distant future, or if you prefer an effective “hands-off” solution that allows you to have control over when (and if) you choose to conceive. IUDs are a flexible and attractive choice for women looking for a long-term birth control solution.

 

What is an IUD?

An IUD is a ‘T’ shaped birth control device that is placed into a woman’s uterus through the cervix to prevent pregnancy. An IUD has two thin strings attached to the bottom that hang down from the vagina when inserted. These strings help the user locate the IUD and ensure it is in place.

An IUD works by preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg. There are two types of IUDs that both prevent pregnancy, but in slightly different ways. 

 

Know your IUD

As indicated above, there are two types of IUDs – the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD.

  • Copper IUDs – The copper material of these non-hormonal IUDs prevents pregnancy by creating an environment that is unfavourable to sperm cells. This environment reduces the sperm cells’ ability to fertilize the woman’s egg. Learn more about Copper IUD
  • Hormonal IUDs – The hormones in these IUDs also produce an environment that is unfavourable to sperm cells. These IUDs make the mucus within the cervix thick. The dense texture of the mucous prevents sperm cells from reaching the egg. In addition to this, the hormones in these IUDs can prevent ovulation. Without ovulation, eggs cannot leave the ovaries. If there are no eggs for the sperm cells to fertilize, pregnancy cannot exist. Learn more about Mirena IUD and Kyleena IUD

 

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Effectiveness of IUDs

Annually, less than 1% of those with an IUD get pregnant, making them one of the most reliable methods of birth control available. Aside from the efficacy of the device itself, IUDs have an additional advantage:

Once inserted, IUDs work as they are meant to and don’t require any maintenance or additional action. Human error (e.g. forgetting to take your birth control pill) can cause undesirable results (pregnancy) with some of the other “hands-on” contraceptive methods that are currently available.

 

Advantages of IUDs

  • Copper IUDs: Copper IUDs are the perfect option for someone looking for a long term birth control method but does not want to use a contraceptive with hormones. Since copper IUDs start working right away, they are useful as an emergency birth control option. Additionally, hormonal reactions like mood and skin changes are not a concern.
  • Hormonal IUDs: In addition to their intended benefits, users of hormonal IUDs may also enjoy the privilege of regular, less painful menstrual periods. Some users report a cessation of their periods altogether. The thick cervical mucus that a hormonal IUD creates may also be helpful in preventing pelvic inflammatory diseases.
  • Both Hormonal and Non-Hormonal IUDs: Both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs share several advantages, including their efficacy, longevity, and the lack of maintenance. These devices can also be removed by your medical professionals if required.

 

Disadvantages / Side effects of IUDs:

  • Copper IUDs: Some users of the copper IUD experience extremely uncomfortable menstrual periods. Those who already suffer from painful periods may choose to avoid this option. People with allergies to copper should also avoid this type of IUD.
  • Hormonal IUDs: A hormonal IUD may be a poor choice for those who have received treatment for breast cancer or those with liver disease. These types of IUDs may also be unsuitable for those with certain types of cancer (endometrial or cervical cancer).
  • Both Hormonal and Non-Hormonal IUDs: There are a few instances where both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs should be avoided. 

IUDs of any kind are not recommended for those with an active pelvic infection. Those with a uterus with an abnormal shape should also avoid IUDs. 

While there are some risks involved with getting an IUD, the benefits far outweigh the negatives for most people. If you are considering getting an IUD or have more questions, check out these articles:  

 

  • Do IUDs make you Gain Weight?
  • Is the IUD Procedure Painful?

 

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