Understanding IUDs: Is It the Right Birth Control For You?

If you keep up on women's health, or talk to other ladies about their hooha, I'm sure you've heard a lot recently about the rising popularity of the intrauterine device and wondered if you should get an IUD. After years of living in the shadow of its flashier sister the Pill, the IUD is finally having its day in the sun — it's 99 percent effective against pregnancy and it's been recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics as the best form of birth control for young women. Everybody seems to be crazy for IUDs these days — but does that mean that they are the right birth control for you?

 

What is an IUD?

An IUD is a tiny device that's inserted in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It's long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.

 

What does IUD stand for?

IUD stands for Intrauterine Device i.e. a device inside your uterus. It's a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. 

 

What are the different types of IUDs?

There are 5 different brands of IUDs that are FDA approved for use in the United States: ParaGard, Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena.

These IUDs are divided into 2 types: copper IUDs (ParaGard) and hormonal IUDs (Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena).

The ParaGard IUD doesn't have hormones. It's wrapped in a tiny bit of copper, and it protects you from pregnancy for up to 12 years. The Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is very similar to the hormone progesterone that our bodies make naturally. Mirena works for up to 6 years. Kyleena works for up to 5 years. Skyla and Liletta work for up to 3 years.

 

How do IUDs work?

Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm move so they can't get to an egg. If sperm can't make it to an egg, pregnancy can't happen.

The ParaGard IUD uses copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm don't like copper, so the ParaGard IUD makes it almost impossible for sperm to get to that egg.

The hormones in Liletta, Mirena, Skyla, and Kyleena IUDs prevent pregnancy in two ways: 1) they thicken the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps the sperm, and 2) the hormones also sometimes stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there's no egg for a sperm to fertilize. No egg, no pregnancy.

One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years — but they're not permanent. If you decide to get pregnant or you just don't want to have your IUD anymore, your nurse or doctor can quickly and easily take it out. You're able to get pregnant right after the IUD is removed.

 

Is an IUD right for you?

Maybe. IUDs have a lot going for them — they're the most effective form of reversible birth control for women, and you don't have to fiddle with them before sex or remember to put them in every day. But everyone comes to birth control for different things. Some of us are looking to help our forgetful selves. Some of us are trying to lessen our bad menstrual cramps. Some of us are just using birth control because we're on another medication that requires it (like Accutane). And because we all have different birth control agendas, we all need to sort through different sets of facts.

 

Interested in getting an IUD?

Do you have additional questions about IUDs?  Are you interested in getting an IUD?  At Health Foundations Women's Health & Birth Center we believe in providing the best care based on each woman's unique needs for every stage of her life.  Our providers take the time to listen to you, to answer your questions and to make sure you leave your appointment feeling informed and cared for. Give us a call to schedule an appointment 651-895-2520.