An IUD is a small, T-shaped piece of plastic that is placed into the uterus (womb) by your doctor to prevent pregnancy. There are two types:
- Copper-T IUD (Paragard®) – can be used for up to 10 years
- Progestin-only IUD (Mirena®) – can be used for up to 5 years
Like most methods of birth control, IUDs do not protect you from any disease passed on through sex. If you or your partner has an STI or if you have sex with other people besides each other, you should also use condoms to protect against STIs. Your doctor will test you for infections before or at the time the IUD is placed.
Advantages of IUD:
- Protects for 5 to 10 years.
- Very effective. Each year, only one out of 100 women using an IUD for birth control will become pregnant.
- Safe for most women, including nursing mothers and women who have never been pregnant.
- Easy to use. After the IUD has been placed by your doctor, there is nothing for you to remember. You do not need to take anything each day or do anything before, during or after sex. You should check once a month to make sure the string from the IUD is still in place. Your doctor will show you how to check.
- Very private. No one knows you are using an IUD. Occasionally, your partner may feel the string, but this isn’t usually a problem.
- Easily removed. After your doctor removes the IUD, you can try to get pregnant right away.
Disadvantages of IUD:
- Your doctor has to insert the IUD in the office. Most women experience mild discomfort when the IUD is placed into the uterus and a few women feel more pain during insertion.
- The progestin-only IUD can cause some irregular bleeding or spotting for the first few months after it is placed. This gets better and some women will stop having a monthly period altogether.
- The copper T-IUD can cause some women to have more cramping and bleeding during their monthly period. This usually gets better with time.