Last week we discussed the Implant and went into further detail on how progesterone works to prevent pregnancy. This week’s post might be a little shorter due to the fact that we went through all of that last week but nevertheless we will briefly discuss them again. The post this week might trigger the memory of a story that was floating around the internet last week, about a baby being born holding an IUD. It turns out that the IUD holding baby was somewhat staged, as the IUD was discovered during the mother’s C-section. Never the less it has started a conversation. So what is an IUD? Let’s talk about it.
The IUD, or intrauterine device, is a long term birth control. It is a T-shaped device designed to fit inside the uterus. It is important to keep in mind that over long periods of time the IUD, and the implant, are 20 times more effective than other types of birth control. Both are also incredibly reliable, with only 1 out of 100 women becoming pregnant in the first year of use, which is as effective as sterilisation. Why? Once again this is down to human influence and human error. In the same way that the implant removes the need to remember to take a pill everyday, the IUD is another get it and forget it form of contraception.
The IUD has two forms and two manners of working. The first is the hormone version. The hormone version works in the same way that the implant does. Progesterone is released from the IUD regularly and stops pregnancy in a few ways. The first is by stopping the release of an egg from the fallopian tubes. The second is by thickening the mucus on the cervix which makes it more difficult for sperm to get to the eggs for fertilisation. The third is by thinning out the uterine lining which is required for an egg to develop.
The second is the copper version, sometimes called the coil. The copper IUD works by halting the release of an egg from the fallopian tubes. The copper IUD is also an excellent form of emergency birth control but will be placed in the uterus with the intention to remain there for an extended period of time.
The hormone IUD is approved for use for up to 5 years where as the Copper IUD is approved for use for up to 10 years. With that in mind these two forms of birth control are the longest lasting and the copper IUD outlasts the others by almost double.
To have an IUD placed into the uterus you will need a doctor to review your medical records and give you an examination. Then the IUD is placed into a small tube. The tube is placed in the vagina, and then guided through to the cervix and finally placed in the uterus.
As with the other birth control methods we have discussed to date the IUD does not protect against STDs. So as with all birth controls methods that do not protect against STDs you will want to use condoms while having intercourse to prevent contracting them.
There are other risks as well. There is a small chance that your uterus might get perforated when the IUD is inserted. This is very rare and only happens in around 1 out of every 1000 IUD insertions. In the rare case that you do become pregnant after the IUD has been implanted there is a slightly higher chance you may experience an ectopic pregnancy. The IUD can come out of your uterus in the first year of use but this is also very rare. With the copper IUD, menstrual pain and bleeding may increase at first. Bleeding between periods may occur. Both effects are common in the first few months of use but usually decrease within 1 year of use. The hormonal IUDs may cause spotting and irregular bleeding in the first 3–6 months of use. The amount of menstrual bleeding and the length of the menstrual period usually decrease over time. Menstrual pain also usually decreases. A few women also may have side effects related to the hormones in these IUDs. These side effects may include headaches, nausea, depression, and breast tenderness. Finally, you are at a higher risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, PID, in your first 20 days after the insertion of the IUD but the chance is still quite low at 1 out of 100.
There are a number of benefits other than just not having to take a pill everyday. You cannot tell that the IUD is in place once it has been inserted and does not interfere with sex or daily activities. Most women are able to use the IUD even immediately after having an abortion, experiencing miscarriage, giving birth, and can be used while breastfeeding. The IUD can, over time, asset with heave or painful menstruation.
Speak to your OBGYN to find out if an IUD might be right for you. If your are in the Nashville area, or if you are up for a road trip, come see Dr. Paschall for a consultation about your birth control options. We’d love to see you.
Until next time!