When it comes to preventing an unwanted pregnancy, women have lots of options to choose from. Some, like birth control pills, are easy to get started, but the need to remember to take your pill at the same time each day leads some women to seek more hands-off options. One popular approach is an IUD, or intrauterine device.
An IUD needs to be inserted by a doctor during a quick in-office procedure, but once it is in place, it can provide effective birth control for several years in many cases. It is also reversible, which means that women can get pregnant right away when they decide they are ready to start a family.
Moreover, it is considered one of the most effective birth control methods available, making it an attractive option for women who are very certain they do not wish to get pregnant in the short-term.
What Is An IUD?
An IUD is a small piece of flexible plastic that is shaped like the letter T. It is believed that it works to prevent pregnancy by prohibiting sperm cells from reaching an egg. In the U.S., there are several different brands of these devices, but they are generally divided into two types: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs.
A copper IUD is a device that has been wrapped in a small amount of copper and can prevent pregnancy for as long as 10 years. The copper in these devices makes the uterus inhospitable to sperm.
A hormonal IUD uses the hormone progestin to stop pregnancy from taking place and may last from 3 to 7 years. These work by thickening cervical mucus so that it traps and blocks sperm rather than letting it pass through. In addition, the hormones can stop eggs from leaving the ovaries in the first place, which means there will not be an egg for any sperm that does get through to fertilize.
The IUD Insertion Process
An IUD can be inserted at any point in your menstrual cycle, as well as right after you have given birth.
Before your IUD is inserted, your doctor will ask you some questions pertaining to your medical history. They will also check your vagina, uterus, and cervix, and this may include STD testing. In some cases, your doctor will also offer you some medicine to numb your cervix or help to open it up in preparation for the insertion.
Next, a speculum will be inserted into your vagina and a special inserter will be placed that allows the doctor to slide the IUD in through your cervix’s opening and into the uterus. This will usually take less than five minutes.
What Does The IUD Insertion Process Feel Like?
The IUD insertion process is designed to be as comfortable as possible. Many women will experience some cramping or pain during or after the insertion. Your doctor may instruct you to take an anti-inflammatory or an over-the-counter pain reliever prior to your appointment to prevent cramps.
You should plan some time to relax afterward. You may feel completely normal right away, but some women find they need to take it easy. You could experience some of the same things that happen during PMS, such as back pain or cramping, so you might want to have a heating pad and ibuprofen on hand just in case. Any spotting you experience should only last a few months.
You may be able to feel a string that is a couple of inches long coming from your cervix into the top of your vagina. This is there to aid removal and confirm placement, so you should never tug or pull on it as you may move the IUD out of place and render it ineffective. Ask your doctor if you will need to use backup birth control after the placement of your IUD.
How Effective Is My IUD?
Once your IUD has been placed correctly, you can enjoy an efficacy rate of more than 99 percent. Because you cannot forget to take it, unlike the pill, and operator error isn’t a factor, unlike condoms, there is little chance of an unwanted pregnancy.
However, you do need to keep track of its expected removal date; your doctor will tell you at your insertion appointment how many years it is expected to last. You should use a backup birth control method and see your doctor if you suspect the IUD has moved.
Keep in mind, however, that IUDs do not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases. This means your partner will need to use condoms or take other measures to avoid getting or spreading an STD.
Get In Touch With Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness
To learn more about IUDs or schedule an insertion appointment, get in touch with the friendly healthcare team at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness today.