What Are IUDs and How Do They Work?
According to women’s health leader, Planned Parenthood, IUDs are small, T-shaped, plastic devices that are inserted into your uterus. There is a string at one end that hangs into the vagina so that it can be tested for placement and for easier removal.
What Are the Differences Between IUDs?
It is important to understand that not all IUDs are alike. The well-known medical site, Family Doctor reports that there are two main kinds of IUDs on the market. The first is a copper-based IUD called Paragard. It prevents pregnancy through changing the way sperm move in the uterus, preventing them from reaching the egg. The second kind are hormone-based IUDs including Mirena, Skylar, and Kylena, which release small amounts of progestin — a hormone like progesterone — to prevent ovulation.
How Are IUDs Inserted?
IUDs are inserted in a doctor’s office by a doctor, trained nurse practitioner, or physician’s assistant. The procedure is similar to a PAP smear but inserted more deeply.
What Does it Cost to Insert an IUD?
Some insurance will cover IUDs and some will not. If paying out-of-pocket, expect to pay up to $1,000 for the procedure.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to this form of birth control. Keep reading to weigh the pros and cons.
What Are the Advantages of IUDs?
Advantages of IUDs include the following:
• The device can prevent pregnancy for between 3-12 years, depending the kind of device.
• It is one of the most effective forms of birth control (over 99% effective).
• The IUD is reversible and a woman can get pregnant right after it is removed.
• It is convenient and there is no need to take a pill every day to prevent contraception.
What Are the Disadvantages of IUDs?
There are also a few disadvantages with this device, including the following:
• The cost can be substantial if a woman is paying out of pocket.
• It is necessary for a doctor or other medical professional to insert and remove the device.
• This device is not for women who have a copper allergy (if using Paragard) or for women who have cancer of the cervix or uterus or unexplained vaginal bleeding in between periods. IUDs can cause heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding in between periods.
• IUDs offer no protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
• There’s a small 1/1000 risk of uterine perforation, which will require surgical repair
• If the string rides up into the uterus, the IUD must be surgically removed
Can IUDs Be Used for Emergency Contraception?
If an IUD is inserted within 5 days of unprotected sex, it is 99% effective for preventing pregnancy.
In short, if a woman is looking for an effective, convenient form of birth control that offers a high degree of protection in the long term, an intrauterine device is a good option to help prevent unwanted pregnancies and give women a higher degree of reproductive freedom.
Brian Wu is a current PhD graduate and MD candidate who enjoys writing about health, science, and the ways it can “hack” your life. He is currently working on the Health Stories For Kids– Medical Ebooks that Educate and Entertain. Check out more at www.healthstoriesforkids.com.
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