The Intra-uterine device, popularly known as the IUD, is a contraceptive method made of flexible molded T-shaped plastic that is introduced into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It can only be placed and removed by a gynecologist, and although it can be put in at any point of the menstrual cycle, it should preferably be placed in the first 12 days of the cycle.
The IUD has an efficacy equal to or greater than 99% and may remain in the uterus for 5 to 10 years and should be withdrawn up to one year after your last period at menopause. There are two main types of IUDs:
- Copper IUD or Multiload IUD: is made of plastic, but coated only with copper or with copper and silver;
- Hormone IUD or Mirena IUD: Contains a hormone, levonorgestrel, which is released into the uterus after its insertion.
Since the copper IUD does not involve the use of hormones, it usually has fewer side effects on the body, such as mood, weight or decreased libido changes and can be used at any age, not interfering with breastfeeding.
However, the hormonal or Mirena IUD also has several advantages, contributing to a reduced risk of endometrial cancer, reduction of menstrual flow and relief of menstrual cramps. Thus, this type is also widely used in women who do not need contraception, but who are doing the treatment of endometriosis or fibroids, for example.
Advantages and disadvantages of IUD
|It is a practical and long-lasting method||Appearance of anemia due to a longer and more abundant period that the copper IUD can cause|
|There is no risk of forgetting to use it||Risk of uterine infection|
|Does not interfere with intimate contact|
If a sexually transmitted infection occurs, it is more likely to develop into a more serious disease, such as the pelvic inflammatory disease
|Fertility returns to normal after||Higher risk of ectopic pregnancy|
Depending on the type, the IUD may have other advantages and disadvantages for each woman, and it is recommended to discuss this information with your gynecologist when choosing the best contraceptive method.
O DIU can be bought at any pharmacy, its price in the U.S can range from $0 to $1,300. In the UK it is mainly free.
How it works
The copper IUD works by preventing the egg from attaching itself to the uterus and decreasing the effectiveness of sperm through the action of the copper, disrupting fertilization. This type of IUD provides protection over a period of approximately 10 years.
The hormonal IUD, hinders ovulation and prevents the egg from attaching itself to the uterus because of the hormonal release, thickening the mucus of the cervix so as to form a kind of tampon that prevents the spermatozoa from reaching there, thus avoiding fertilization. This type of IUD provides protection for up to 5 years.
How the is it placed
The procedure for inserting the IUD is simple, lasting between 15 and 20 minutes and can be done in a gynecological office itself. Placement of the IUD can be done at any time in the menstrual cycle, however it is most recommended that it be placed during menstruation, which is when the uterus is more dilated.
For placement of the IUD, the woman should be placed in a gynecological position, with her legs slightly apart, and the doctor inserts the IUD into the uterus. Once placed, the doctor leaves a small wire inside the vagina that serves as an indication that the IUD is placed correctly. This wire can be felt with your finger, however it is not felt during intimate contact.
Because it is a procedure that is not performed with anesthesia, women may feel discomfort during the procedure.
Possible side effects
Some of the side effects of this contraceptive method include:
- Uterine pain or contractions, more frequent in women who have never had children;
- Small hemorrhage shortly after IUD placement;
- Vaginal discharge.
The copper IUD in some women may also lead to longer, more bleeding and more painful periods, especially in the first few months after IUD insertion.
The hormonal IUD, in addition to these side effects can also cause reduced menstrual flow or absence of menstruation or small menstrual blood outlets, called spotting, pimples, headaches, pain and breast tenderness, fluid retention, ovarian cysts and weight gain.
When to go to the doctor
It is important for you to be alert and see your doctor if you do not feel or see the IUD guidewires, symptoms such as a fever or chills, genital swelling, or severe abdominal cramps. In addition, it is recommended you see your doctor if there is increased vaginal flow, bleeding outside your period, pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse.
If any of these signs appear, it is important to see your gynecologist to assess the placement of the IUD and take the appropriate action.