An IUD, or intrauterine device, is an effective, long-lasting, and popular method of birth control.
The device is shaped like a T and about the size of a quarter. It’s implanted in your uterus to prevent pregnancy.
There are different types of IUDs available for use in the US. Some release small amounts of hormones, and others use copper to trigger your immune system to prevent pregnancy.
You shouldn’t use an IUD if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have cervical or uterine cancer
- Have abnormal vaginal bleeding
Safety of IUDs
IUDs are not only 99 percent effective in protecting against unwanted pregnancy, but they are also safe.
Implanting An IUD
Your Newton-Wellesley OB/GYN physician implants your IUD during an office visit in one of the two locations in Newton or Walpole, Massachusetts.
You can take ibuprofen or a mild pain medication beforehand to make you more comfortable.
Like with a Pap smear, you put your feet in stirrups, and your doctor places the IUD in a small tube that they insert into your vagina, through the cervix, and into your uterus. The IUD strings will hang around an inch or two into your vagina.
Some IUDs begin working right away, and others can take up to a week, depending on when they’re inserted.
How long your IUD lasts depends on the type of IUD. Some types last for 3 years, some last for 5 and 6 years, and the copper, hormone-free IUD lasts for up to 10 years.
Benefits of An IUD
There are many benefits to IUDs, including:
- They’re long-lasting
- They’re safe, even when breastfeeding
- They work, so you don’t have to think about birth control
Birth Control FAQs
Some birth control offer benefits beyond preventing pregnancy, such as:
- Treating acne
- Protecting against sexually transmitted diseases
- Reducing menstrual pain and related symptoms, such as fatigue
In certain cases, birth control can be used to treat medical conditions, such as:
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
There are several birth control methods available, and each method varies in its effectiveness. Some of the most common methods include:
- Oral contraception (the pill) - a daily pill that prevents pregnancy through the release of the hormones estrogen, progesterone, or both.
- Birth control patch - a patch that delivers hormones to your bloodstream to prevent ovulation.
- Male and female condoms - a barrier method that prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg.
- Diaphragm - a small cup-like device that sits over the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus; can be used with spermicide.
- IUD (intrauterine device) - a small device your physician implants into your uterus that prevents egg fertilization. Learn More
- Vaginal ring -a small, removable ring you insert into your vagina that delivers localized hormones to prevent pregnancy.
Other options include:
- Hormone Injections
- Nexplanon®, which is implanted into your arm
Typically, you might have to try a couple of different methods before you find the best choice for you and your partner.
If you opt for a hormonal method of birth control, sometimes it can take a while for your body to get used to the influx of hormones. You may experience some side effects, like bloating, mood swings, or changes in your menstrual cycle. With hormonal birth control, you usually need to wait at least a week after starting it to have unprotected sex.
If you’re using a barrier method of birth control, these are effective right away. Barrier methods may be less effective than hormonal contraception, however, so it’s important to understand the risks and to use a backup method, if necessary.
If you decide you want to switch contraception methods at any time, just let your physician know, and they will be happy to help you find something that works better for you.