Woman's Health Centers

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Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The IUD is a small t-shaped device that is inserted into the vagina to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

In the United States, there are two types of IUDs available. The Mirena, which continuously releases hormones for up to five years, and the Para-Grad which has no hormones but contains copper can be left in for 10 years.

They have become very popular due to the 99% effective rate, and the relatively low cost compared to oral contraceptives.

IUDs are effective as soon as they are inserted. Women still ovulate but the IUD will prevent the sperm from fertilizing the egg.

Both types of IUDs work by preventing an egg from becoming fertilized. The IUD has a long history of being well tolerated by most women. While doctors used to be reluctant to recommend an IUD for a young woman, or a woman who has never given birth, experience has shown that the risks and benefits are the same for most women whether or not they have had a prior pregnancy.

IUDs present some risks for women who are HIV positive, have a severely tilted uterus, women that are severely anemic, women with increased risks of STDs, and women with pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID).

Many women report that their periods are shorter and lighter while on the IUD. Especially the one that releases hormones. The Para-Gard is sometimes associated with a slightly heavier period until your body adjusts. Once the IUD is put in place by your doctor you will be able to feel only two very small thread like strings in the vagina. These do not cause discomfort during intercourse and are rarely reported as being detected by a women’s partner.

There are a few very real possible risks with IUDs:

  • Uterine perforation, a very rare complication during the insertion of the IUD.
  • Uterine Infection, caused by pre-existing bacteria in the vagina. Can usually be solved with antibiotics.
  • Increased risk if PID (Pelvic inflammatory Disease)
  • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage if a woman becomes pregnant with an IUD present.

Pregnancy After The IUD

The IUD is a reversible form of birth control. This means that it prevents pregnancy while it is in the uterus, but a woman is able to get pregnant once it is removed with very rare exceptions.