Is an IUD Right for Me?
By Dr. Blachar
OB/GYN In South Florida
Among the options for birth control, the intrauterine device (IUD) has been gaining popularity lately.
What Is an IUD?
Intrauterine devices of various forms have actually been available for birth control since the early 1900s. They lost favor with the public and with the medical community during the 1970s and ’80s due to reactions to the Dalkon Shield, an IUD associated with severe pelvic infections. However, the IUDs that are now in use have a long history of safety and reliability, and they are used by millions of women around the world.
An IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into a woman’s uterus by a physician. There are hormonal and non-hormonal types, and each type has advantages and disadvantages.
The non-hormonal IUD is a plastic T-shaped device, wrapped with copper, and can be effective for 10 years. A side effect can be long, heavy periods. Therefore, the hormonal IUD was developed which gives off a hormone called progesterone, which stabilizes the uterine lining and shortens menstrual periods. The hormonal IUD is sometimes recommended for women who need treatment for heavy periods. The amount of hormone released is quite small, meant to work locally in the uterus.
Most women who have used a hormonal IUD do not report having any “hormonal” symptoms, and the shorter periods are absolutely safe. The hormonal IUDs are a bit smaller than the non-hormonal version, and their insertion may be easier. There are several options available, and they can last from 3 to 5 years. An IUD does not need to remain in place until the end of its lifespan; it can be removed at any time by a medical professional.
How Does IUD Insertion Work?
The insertion of an IUD is a short medical procedure. The physician inserts the device through the cervix and into the uterus for placement. In women who have labored and delivered a baby vaginally, and the cervix has therefore opened in the past, the insertion of the IUD is easier.
Women whose cervix has never opened may require the cervix to be slightly dilated to allow insertion of the IUD. Your doctor may tell you to take an anti-inflammatory medication prior to the visit.
How Does an IUD Prevent Pregnancy?
An IUD creates an unfavorable biologic environment for reproduction, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. IUDs are sometimes confused with another form of contraception called Nuvaring, which is a small plastic ring that is inserted and removed from the vagina every month by the patient. Nuvaring works in the same way as the birth control pill – by preventing ovulation. But instead of delivering the hormones in pill form, they are released from this plastic vaginal ring.
There are many safe options for birth control available today. IUDs are one of the most reliable and easy-to-use forms of birth control. Make an appointment with us today to see whether an IUD is right for you.