Intrauterine Device – IUD
An intrauterine device commonly referred to as an IUD, is a birth control device that is inserted inside the uterus. The device is T-shaped and must remain in the uterus in order for it to prevent pregnancy.
As with any type of birth control the IUD cannot protect against pregnancy 100%. However according to the American College of Gynecologists fewer than 1 out of 100 women who use the IUD will become pregnant while the device is in place.
It is also important to note that the IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
An IUD will need to be placed in the uterus of the patient during a quick office visit. At Northwestern Women’s Health Associates we offer two types of IUD birth control.
Paraguard - The Paraguard IUD is made out of copper and contains no hormones. This type of IUD can be left in the uterus for 10 years.
Mirena - The Mirena IUD uses progesterone (hormones) to prevent pregnancy. The Mirena can prevent pregnancy and be left in the uterus for 5 years.
Here is a comparison chart to help you understand the differences between these two birth control options:
|Hormone free option||
Uses progesterone, a synthetic hormone that is released into the uterus and absorbed by the body.
|Can be used for up to 10 years or removed at any time.||Can be used for up to 5 years or removed at any time.|
|99% effective||99% effective|
|Menstrual cycle may initially be longer with heavier bleeding but after 2-3 months it should return to normal.||Menstrual cycle may initially increase but may lighten over time or even stop.|
|Can be removed at any time during an office visit.||Can be removed at any time during an office visit.|
|After removing the ParaGuard one study found that 43% of women became pregnant within 3 months.||After removing the Mirena one study found that 34% of women became pregnant within 3 months.|
|How it works: Prevents pregnancy primarily by stopping sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg; may also prevent the egg from attaching to the uterus.||How it works: Thickens cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering your uterus, or inhibits sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg; may also thin the lining of the uterus.|
|Requires no daily or weekly routines.||Requires no daily or weekly routines.|
An IUD is a great choice for women who are looking for a birth control that lasts for a long time and doesn’t require them to take a daily pill. If a woman decides she wants to become pregnant or no longer wants to use the IUD it can be removed during a brief office visit. As soon as the device is removed you can try to become pregnant.
You can not get an IUD without a visit to your obstetrics and gynecology provider. They will ensure that you are a good candidate for this type of birth control.
Benefits of IUD birth control:
There are many benefits of to using an IUD as your birth control method.
- Once the IUD is inserted you don’t have to think about it at all, although you should check for the vaginal string once a month.
- It does not interfere with sex, exercise and other daily activities.
- You can use tampons while you have an IUD.
- You can have an IUD inserted soon after giving birth even if you are breastfeeding.
- The IUD can be easily removed allowing you the opportunity to try and get pregnant.
A fact sheet by the American College of Gynecologists outlines the details of the IUD including potential side effects and warning signs.
After you have had an IUD in place it is important to notify your obstetrics and gynecology provider if you have any pain or discomfort in your abdomen or during sex. If you have an unexplained fever or any signs of pregnancy it is important that you make an appointment with a provider at Northwestern Women’s Health Associates immediately.
If you are considering the IUD as a long term solution for birth control you may want to also consider essure sterilization. Essure sterilization should only be considered by people who are confident that they do not wish to become pregnant after the procedure is done.
Before making any birth control decisions call Northwestern Women’s Health Associates at 1-312-440-9440 to schedule an appointment to sit down with your provider to discuss your lifestyle and determine the best solution for your birth control needs.