If you are looking for a reliable form of birth control, consider an IUD. For many women, an IUD is the preferred method of contraception because it provides safe and effective long-term birth control. Exactly how does an IUD work?
What Is an IUD?
The term “IUD” is the abbreviation for “intrauterine device”. It is a plastic T-shaped device approximately the size of a quarter that your doctor will place in your uterus. Once properly placed in your uterus, you will not be able to feel it.
How Does It Work
IUDs prevent pregnancy by interfering with the ability of sperm cells to reach and fertilize an egg. IUDs impair the sperm cells and the fertilization process in different ways, depending on the type of IUDs and how it is manufactured. Some types of IUDs release hormones and other types of IUDs are made of copper which releases copper ions to prevent pregnancy. Which type of IUD is best for you depends on your unique physiology.
Hormonal IUD – Releases Hormones To Prevent Pregnancy
The hormonal IUD is treated with Levonorgestrel, a progestin.hormones. By slowly releasing the hormones, these IUDs can prevent pregnancy in several ways: 1) it thickens the mucus of the cervix so that it blocks and traps the sperm, 2) it can stop you from ovulating, meaning your ovaries do not release eggs, thus depriving the sperm of the ability to fertilize an egg, and 3) some hormonal IUDs also thin the uterine lining so that if a sperm is able to reach an egg and fertilize it, the fertilized egg cannot implant in the uterus.
The hormonal IUDs currently available in the United States are Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. The differences between them are based on:
- Amount of hormone released by each: Each brand releases a certain dose of hormones each day. For example, Skyla releases only 13.5 micrograms or progestin each day, but Mirena releases 52 micrograms.
- Size: Some brands are slightly smaller and narrower, others larger to better accommodate different sizes of women’s bodies.
- Approved length of use: Each brand is suitable for a specific length of time. For example, Liletta is proven effective for up to six years, Mirena and Kyleena for up to five years, and Skyla for up to three years.
If you have an IUD placed while you are menstruating, it will become effective immediately. However, if you have one placed at another time during your cycle, it can take up to 7 days to be effective.
Copper IUD – Releases Copper Ions To Prevent Pregnancy
The copper IUD is a non-hormonal IUD that is wrapped with copper. It is a T-shaped plastic frame with a copper wire coiled around it. Once inserted into your uterus, the copper IUD works by producing an inflammatory reaction that is toxic to sperm and eggs (ova), thus preventing pregnancy. In effect, the copper ions kill the sperm.
The copper IUD (brand name is ParaGard) provides immediate birth control and is effective for up to ten years. Note also that if you have a copper IUD inserted within five days of unprotected sex, it may prevent you from becoming pregnant.
Why Are IUDs So Popular?
IUDs are the first choice of birth control for many women. The chief reasons for their popularity are:
- Effective long-term.
- Reversible – when you are ready to get pregnant, simply remove the IUD.
- 99% effective.
- Convenient – you do not have to remember to take a pill.
- Safe to use, even while breastfeeding. An IUD can be inserted immediately after delivery.
- Not noticeable during sex.
Sometimes free under the Affordable Care Act. Despite their popularity, IUDs have a few negatives. They include:
- · Heavier menstrual periods and more cramping with the copper IUD.
- · Irregular periods the first few months with the hormonal IUD. Usually the periods are extremely light or may even stop after the first few months with these devices.
- Rare complications including infection, ectopic pregnancy, and expulsion of the IUD can occur.
Schedule Your IUD Insertion With Raleigh Gynecology And Wellness Today
The safety, convenience, and effectiveness of IUDs are the reason why so many women use them. The experts at Raleigh Gynecology and Wellness are available to answer your questions about IUDs and how to find out if an IUD is right for you. Contact them by phone at (919) 636-6670 for more information or schedule an appointment online.