7 Things Every Woman Should Know About IUDs

By:Ariba Khaliq, Onlymyhealth Editorial Team,Date:Dec 31, 2014

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IUDs are small, t-shaped devices for contraception that are inserted into the uterus by a trained health care provider to prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from joining an egg.
  • 1

    IUD Fans Have Plenty Reasons

    Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are highly effective, long-lasting, and reversible forms of birth control and so women's health advocates tend to be big fans of them. IUDs are small, t-shaped contraption inserted into the uterus by a trained health care provider to prevent pregnancy by keeping sperm from joining an egg. IUDs are extremely effective; in fact up to the extent that less than 1 out of 100 women get pregnant while using an IUD each year. IUDs also are some of the least expensive, longest lasting forms of birth control available to women today. However, they don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections. If you’re contemplating this form of contraception, there are a  few things you should know about them. Read on.

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  • 2

    There are Many Kinds of IUDs

    All IUDs have a small string that hangs from the frame and out of the uterus, which a physician uses to remove the device once it expires or the woman chooses to have it removed. You can choose IUDs from a number of brands, all of them coming with different effects. Some options are non-hormonal; these have copper coils on their frame that kill sperm by causing a chemical change in the fluid in the uterus. Others work by releasing progestin and preventing pregnancy by stopping ovulation and thickening cervical mucus to prevent fertilization. An IUD could be effective against pregnancy immediately and remains so anywhere from three to 10 years, all depends on the type of IUD you are using. They can be removed at any point during that period.

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  • 3

    They are the Most Effective Contraceptives

    IUDs have a very low user error, and they are about as risk-free as you can get when it comes to unplanned pregnancies. You can forget to take or may run out on pills and spermicides, but not IUDs. Also they are immediately effective, unlike hormonal contraceptive methods like implants or hormonal shots. Short of permanent sterilization, it's as dependable of a method of birth control as you can get. The copper IUD can also be used as a form of emergency contraception if inserted within a few days of unprotected sex.

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  • 4

    However, They Don't Prevent STIs

    IUDs are not meant for preventing infections contracted through intercourse, so don’t be carefree on that front. If you are with a new partner or your partner has an untreated sexually transmitted infection (STI), you should use a condom too. Just like the birth control pill, emergency contraception, implants, and other non-barrier methods, IUDs will not forestall an infection from passing from partner to partner.

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  • 5

    They are a Bit Expensive

    Condoms can cost anywhere from three to five rupees apiece. A month of birth control pills can be Rs. 600 to 2400, depending on where you get them and what type you buy. An IUD plus insertion can be up to Rs. 60, 000 out of pocket, although it's a cost that won't need to be replicated since, depending on the type, it can last up to a decade. Luckily, some insurers are now covering IUDs under no copay birth control options, reducing the cost substantially. Be sure to check with your insurance to see what costs an IUD will require from start to finish.

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  • 6

    Fact: IUDs Don’t Cause Infections

    There’s a lurking perception that IUDs are troublesome when it comes to infections. It is a common myth that they cause infections, or make infections worse. They don’t and they are totally fine for women who've previously had an infection, sexual or otherwise. However, women with active pelvic inflammatory disease should wait and get treated before having an IUD inserted. You should always talk to their doctors about whether an IUD is right for you particularly if you have an active infection. Still, major medical organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say it's not necessary for women who already have an IUD to get it removed if they subsequently get chlamydia or PID.

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  • 7

    Nor Do They Cause Abortions

    Some conservatives have been opposing IUD programs, claiming the devices cause abortions. But there hasn’t been a proof that the claim is true. IUDs in almost all cases stop sperm from getting to the egg to fertilize it, either by killing the sperm itself or making the cervical mucus too thick for sperm to swim through to get to the egg. But, yes, there is a very small chance that a fertilized egg may not implant occasionally. According to the scientific definition of the beginning of pregnancy at implantation, then IUDs definitely don't work by causing abortions. Some religions propose that pregnancy begins at fertilization, then sometimes, IUDs used as birth control might abort a fertilized egg. The evidence about IUDs suggests that the primary mechanism is to prevent fertilization, not to prevent implantation.

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  • 8

    Your Period Might Get Missed or Worse

    Depending on the type of IUD, monthly periods could dwindle or become nonexistent. If not having a period every month would make you worried that you're pregnant, you might prefer another kind. The other side of the IUD could cause a breakthrough bleeding (bleeding in between periods), heavy menstrual bleeding during your periods, or more. The non-hormonal kinds may also tend to come with heavier menstrual periods as a side effect, something every patient should consider before making a choice. With any new method of contraception, you should give it at least three to six months for your body to get used to it.

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