What is an intrauterine device (IUD)?

The IUD is a T-shaped device made from plastic that’s designed to sit inside the uterus. It’s about the size of a quarter overall and can prevent pregnancy for several years. An IUD is easily removed, however, when you’re ready to have a child. There are two types available, one that is wrapped with a small amount of copper, and others that are coated with a hormone that’s released daily and prevents conception.

How do different types of IUD work?

Mirena®, Skyla®, and Liletta® are brand names for hormone-releasing IUDs that prevent pregnancy by:
• Causing you to ovulate less frequently
• Thickening cervical mucus, making it harder for sperm to pass into your uterus
• Preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg and attaching in your uterus

Each of these IUDs is designed to last for five years, then it must be removed and another inserted.

ParaGard® is a brand of IUD that’s wrapped in copper, which prevents pregnancy by irritating the uterus and creating a hostile environment for sperm. This prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg and prevents an egg from implanting in the uterus. The ParaGard IUD requires replacing after 10 years.

Are IUDs safe?

IUDs are considered safe and effective overall. Each of the brands mentioned (Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and ParaGard) are FDA-approved, provided they’re inserted and monitored by a qualified physician or nurse practitioner.

Like many other forms of birth control, however, IUDs do have potential side effects. Hormone-coated IUDs, for instance, can cause:
• Acne
• Headaches
• Breast tenderness
• Changes in the length and frequency of your periods

Birth control pills often have the same possible side effects as hormone-coated IUDs, and most women have no problem using an IUD.

The copper-wrapped ParaGard can cause:
• Heavier than normal menstrual bleeding
• A longer-lasting period
• Cramps or backache not associated with a period

If you’re one of the few who develop significant side effects from an IUD, your doctor can easily remove the device and switch you to another method of birth control.

Schedule a visit with Dr. Bhanot today to discuss IUDs and other birth control options. Call the office or use the online scheduling tool to book your appointment.