IUD Contraception: What Do I Need to Know?
If you’re at the stage in life where you don’t want to worry about getting pregnant, a long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) alternative may be right for you. The term LARC may be foreign to you, but you’re probably more familiar with the phrase intrauterine device—or IUD—which is a form of long-Acting contraception. Why consider this form of protection?
What’s an IUD?
An IUD is a T-shaped, plastic device that is inserted into your uterus. Once inserted, it can be left in anywhere from 3-10 years, depending on the type you have. According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, this form of contraception is 20 times more effective than any other form of birth control.
This also means no pesky reminders to take your birth control pill every day, or running to the pharmacy at odd hours to frantically pick up your prescription after you’ve missed a day.
There are two types to consider:
- Hormonal IUD: releases progestin into your system. Can be left in for 3-5 years.
- Copper IUD: no hormones, and can be left in for up to 10 years.
How does it work?
The T-shaped piece prevents the egg from being fertilized by the sperm. The hormonal IUD helps to thicken the mucus of the cervix, which makes it harder for the sperm to enter the uterus.
How do I get one?
To start, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN. They will administer a pelvic exam and review your medical history to determine if this form of contraception is right for you. Something to remember: only medical professionals can insert IUDs—this is not something you can do at home.
If you decide to get an IUD, your OB/GYN will insert a small, plastic tube and guide it up through your cervix into your uterus. Once it’s in place, they will remove the tube, leaving the IUD in your uterus. There may be mild discomfort the first few days as you adjust, but this will go away with time.
The Benefits of IUDs:
- Highly effective
- Long-Acting (anywhere from 3-10 years)
- You don’t have to worry about it once it’s in place
- You can have your medical provider remove it at any time
An IUD is a great option if you want an effective and effortless way to protect against pregnancy. This is your body and your choice. Find out more by visiting your OB/GYN to continue the conversation.
Beebe Executive Director of Women’s Health Bridget Buckaloo notes that LARCs also include implants; not just IUDs. Birth control implants are inserted under a woman's skin. They release a hormone that prevents pregnancy.
“Family planning is a big part of the conversation. Also, couples need to talk about the fact that fertility is restored when they are removed. This needs to be a conversation between partners. They need to talk about their ideas for family, including: What is the “family plan,” “how many kids do you want,” “How do you want them spaced?”
The normal recommendation is 18-24 months between pregnancies. This means from the day you deliver one baby, you do not want to get pregnant for 18-24 months. This spaces babies 2 to 2.5 years apart. By spacing pregnancies this way, mothers decrease the risk of pregnancy complications, including preterm birth.