What Is an IUD?
An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a small, thin, t-shaped device. It is extremely flexible and made out of plastic. An IUD is a form of contraception must be correctly inserted into the uterus by a physician or nurse practitioner. Once in place, it can prevent pregnancy.
Women can choose between two brands of IUD: Mirena and Para Guard. The main difference between the two is the number of years each method is effective. Mirena is effective for 5 years as it releases progestin in tiny amounts, but enough to prevent pregnancy. Para Guard is effective for 12 years as it contains copper.
How Does an IUD Work?
An IUD works to prevent pregnancy as it blocks the sperm from joining with the egg. In the Mirena IUD, the progestin hormone prohibits ovulation from occurring. Ovulation occurs when eggs are released from the female's ovaries. The Para Guard is wrapped in copper, and copper is toxic to sperm. In turn, the IUD helps the uterus generate fluid that kills sperm.
Inserting the IUD is simple, but must be done in a doctor's office. It only takes a few minutes for the procedure to be completed. A local anesthetic may be administered, but most women do not need any pain relief. The method is simple, quick and usually painless. After inserted, you will be able to feel a small string (similar to a tampon string). Be careful not to pull or manipulate the string as you may shift the IUD out of place.
If the IUD does shift out of place, there is no need to worry. This usually happens in the first several weeks after insertion, although it can also occur at a later time. If you think that your IUD is out of place or has fallen out, check with your physician to have it reinserted. Make sure you use another contraceptive method until you can be seen by the physician.
The IUD does not interfere with your monthly period. However, you must check for the string at least for the first several weeks. Use the following method for checking your IUD string:
If you want your IUD removed, call your physician and they can remove it for you. Again, do not attempt to remove your IUD yourself as it is very dangerous and can lead to complications.
Is an IUD Effective?
Statistically, IUDs are extremely effective. Less than 1 percent of women who use either the Mirena or Para Guard IUD become pregnant each year.
An IUD prevents pregnancy, but it does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Make sure that a condom is used in conjunction with the IUD to prevent any STDs or infections.
If you are looking for emergency birth control, the Para Guard IUD is highly effective if inserted within 5 days of intercourse. It is 99.9 percent effective in preventing pregnancy if used in this manner.
Advantages of an IUD
Besides being the least expensive and most long-term methods of birth control, the Mirena and Para Guard IUDs have many other benefits:
Disadvantages of an IUD?
Even though 99 percent of women are satisfied with their IUD, there are some disadvantages.
There are a few important things to look out for after you have inserted your IUD:
Below is a list of complications that can occur during use of an IUD. Contact your healthcare provider or physician if you experience any of these symptoms:
When Can I Have Intercourse?You can have intercourse soon after the IUD is inserted. The Para Guard IUD is effective upon insertion, and the Mirena IUD is effective immediately only if it has been inserted within 7 days after the first day of your period.
Have a Question? Dr. Pendergraft is available to answer your sexual health related question by
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