IUDs, or Intrauterine Devices, are the busy and forgetful woman’s best friend. An IUD allows women to live in a world completely free from daily birth control alarms and the anxiety that can come with forgetting to take the pill. IUDs, or Intrauterine Devices, are birth control devices that prevent pregnancy by stopping the sperm from fertilizing an egg.
These little miracles come in flexible, T-shaped plastic or copper contraptions that deliver safe and effective birth control, and can last up to ten years. They are placed inside your uterus during a nonsurgical and reversible procedure. There are different types to choose from. You have the flexibility to choose the one that best fits your needs.
Types of IUD
There are two main types of IUDs on the market. These are hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs. They each work in different ways, and you may benefit more from one type or the other.
These IUDs release a synthetic form of the hormone progestin, known as levonorgestrel. The hormone prevents the egg and sperm from meeting so that pregnancy can’t occur. It also thickens the cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to travel up through your uterus. Hormonal IUDs are effective for three to five years, depending on which type you use.
Non-hormonal IUDs don’t contain any hormones and instead work by releasing copper ions into your uterus. The copper ions create an environment that is hostile to sperm and eggs, preventing them from fertilizing each other. Non-hormonal IUDs are effective for up to ten years.
Why Choose an IUD Over Birth Control
IUDs serve as long-term birth control and provide women with an easy and effective way to avoid unwanted pregnancies. IUDs are safe for most women; however, you should always consult your doctor when considering any type of birth control method. Your doctor can help you decide if IUDs are the best option for you and discuss potential risks or side effects. IUDs are reversible and can be removed if you don’t want to use them anymore.
In addition, IUDs can provide a number of other health benefits such as reducing menstrual pain or alleviating heavy bleeding during periods. IUDs also offer the convenience of long-term birth control without having to remember to take a pill every day.
- IUDs provide long-term birth control
- Safe for most women
- IUDs can be removed at any time if desired
- Reduce menstrual pain and heavy bleeding during periods
- IUDs offer convenience of not having to remember to take a pill every day
- No trips to the pharmacy
- Nothing to do before sex to prevent pregnancy
The Mirena IUD is manufactured by Bayer and releases a very low dose of the hormone progestin over a five-year period. Progestin essentially prevents your body from ovulating, thus effectively preventing pregnancy. Another perk of this birth control method is that, in most women, it completely eliminates their periods. In fact, IUDs aren’t only prescribed as a birth control. In women with PCOS or heavy periods, it is a very effective treatment that can greatly improve their quality of life. You have the option to help control heavy periods with an IUD.
In August 2021, Mirena was approved to prevent pregnancy for up to 7 years by the FDA.
The Paraguard IUD, produced by CooperSurgical, works a little differently from the Mirena IUD. It is hormone-free and wrapped in copper. However, it is important to note that it will actually make your periods heavier and longer, instead of non-existent like with the Mirena. For women who are extra sensitive to hormones and therefore more susceptible to adverse side effects from hormonal contraception, Paraguard is a great option. You can prevent pregnancy without the added hormones. Copper is used instead and has been FDA approved for over 30 years.
The Skyla IUD, manufactured by Bayer, is a lot like the Mirena; Their main differences lie in their size and amount of progestin contained in them. Skyla is a smaller version of Mirena and lasts 3 years compared to Mirena’s 5 years. Unlike Mirena, Skyla is FDA approved for women of all ages and for those who have not had children.
The Kyleena IUD, manufactured by Bayer, is like a hybrid of Mirena and Skyla. Kyleena can be used by women of all ages, as well as women who have not given birth. While it is the same size as the Skyla, it has the same levels of progestin and lasts as long as the Mirena. Kyleena is the smallest 5-year IUD. If you are sensitive to hormones, Kyleena offers a low dose of progestin and is estrogen-free.
The IUB Ballerine IUD is a hormone-free option that lasts up to 5 years. This IUD is round and is in a uterus-friendly shape. It is small and flexible for maximum comfort. The IUB Ballerine uses copper technology like other intrauterine devices and is 99% effective in pregnancy prevention.
How Do They Work?
The IUD essentially alters the lining of the uterus. This makes it an uninhabitable environment for a fertilized egg to attach to. All IUDs work by blocking the sperm from getting to the egg by disrupting the path. IUDs that use progestin also hinder the sperm’s access to the egg by causing the woman’s cervical mucus to thicken. Thicker mucus makes it even more difficult for the sperm to get to the egg.
How Do I Choose the Right IUD?
Deciding which one to get depends on your age, needs, and unique medical history. In order to find the right IUD for you, it is imperative to consult with a reputable OBGYN that is familiar with the ins and outs of all your options, the potential side effects, and listens to your personal needs. Knowing about the types of hormone or non-hormone options that work best for you will aid in selecting an IUD. If you have preexisting medical conditions you may not be eligible to use this form of birth control. You should not experience pain or bleeding during or after placement. Your healthcare provider should check the placement if these symptoms occur. IUDs do not protect against STDs or infections so it is important to continue safe sex practices.