Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The ‘Intrauterine Device’, also known as an ‘IUD’,
is one of several forms of birth control. A small device is placed inside
the uterus by a physician; the procedure lasts between 5 to 15 minutes.
Depending on the type of device chosen, it can remain in place until pregnancy
is desired, but must be changed after 5 to 10 years. It is the most popular
method of long term birth control in the world.
of Intrauterine Devices
There are two commonly used types of intrauterine devices available
on the market: the most popular copper based device and
the hormonally based device which releases progestogen
into the woman’s system. The majority of devices that are not hormonal
usually are T-shaped with a copper wire wrapped around the body of the
T. The top of the T, or the arms, hold the device in place near the top
of the uterus, while a string hangs down through to the vagina.
The device is not visible during intercourse, and very rarely can it
be felt. It is not known exactly how the IUD works, but in altering the
lining of the uterus, it interferes with the development of a fertilized
egg by not allowing it to attach itself to the uterine wall where it would
normally grow. It can also damage sperm, preventing fertilization from
occurring at all.
Protection Against STD's
Intrauterine devices are approximately 99.2% to 99.9% effective against
pregnancy, but 0% effective against the protection of sexually transmitted
diseases (STD’s). That said, it is recommended a condom be used
in conjunction with the device.
The side effects of an IUD can range from mild discomfort to serious complications.
Discomforts related to an Intrauterine Device
- An IUD is best inserted during a woman’s menstrual period, but
can be inserted at any time.
- Cramps may be felt during the procedure and/or for a short time afterwards.
- The discomfort can be alleviated with over-the-counter medication
such as ibuprofen.
- Some women experience slightly more intense cramps and heavier periods
for the first few months.
- The average is a menstrual blood loss increase of 20% to 50%.