The IUD or intrauterine device is a form of birth control that is available to woman of any reproductive age seeking reversible, forgettable, long-term, safe, and effective contraception. It is a small, soft, T-shaped device with a nylon string attached. A healthcare provider slides it into your uterus (womb). There are two types of IUD: copper and hormonal (Levonorgestrel, a synthetic progesterone) which work in different ways to prevent pregnancy.
An IUD helps to prevent the egg and sperm from meeting by slowing down the sperm's ability to swim and meet the egg cell. An IUD may also stop a fertilized egg from growing inside the uterus. The progesterone IUDs make the cervical mucus really thick so that sperm and germs cannot penetrate into the uterus.
With the hormone IUDs your periods should be lighter or even go away completely. With the copper ones you should have regular periods, so the only way to know if it is in there is to check for your strings regularly. If you or your partner cannot feel them, please come back and see us. We sometimes have to do an ultrasound or X-ray to find it in the womb if the strings have pulled up into your cervix.
• An IUD provides long-term contraceptive protection for three to ten years which makes it the cheapest form of birth control available.
• Convenience: you do not have to remember to take pills or apply patches or rings regularly. As long as it is in position in the uterus, it works!
• Safe for breastfeeding.
• When you are ready to become pregnant, your healthcare provider can easily remove the IUD by pulling on the strings with no long-term effects on your fertility or future pregnancies.
• Because the IUD cannot be seen or felt, it’s private and it’s your choice to share information about the IUD if you choose.
• You are protected from pregnancy as soon as the IUD has been inserted- if you inserted it during your period. You are able to go swimming, wear tampons or have intercourse 24 hours after the insertion.
• No estrogen in any of them. This reduces the risk of having blood clots in your blood vessels and lungs almost completely.
• The Mirena makes about 60% of women's periods go away completely and reduces the flow and cramps in most women. It is an excellent treatment for endometrial polyps or iron deficiency anemia due to heavy blood flow. With the Kyleena, 40% of women experience no bleeding.
• The Mirena prevents your inner lining of your uterus from becoming thickened. It is good for protecting people with too much estrogen in their systems like those with polycystic ovaries (PCOS), obesity, or those on hormone replacement therapy from endometrial thickening, polyps and uterine cancers.
• Does not cause hormone related facial pigmentation like cloasma or melasma.
· Very reliable birth control for women who are not allowed to get pregnant due to medical reasons like being on Accutane treatment for acne.
No; the plastic, copper or IUD strings should not be felt or seen outside of the vagina. Some women can feel their strings when they look for them to make sure they haven’t fallen out accidentally, but if you cannot feel them, don't worry about it; if we’ve checked it at your 4-6 week visit and it is still inside, then you don't have to worry.
Checking is best done after each period, especially if you use tampons or a diva cup. Feel with fingers around your cervix- there should be something with a different texture there. Your partner should not be feeling any sharp parts.
IMPORTANT FACTS TO KNOW:
1. Once we receive a referral from your doctor, one of our doctors will review the referral and we will phone your and book you in.
2. Your first appointment is for consultation only. You will meet your doctor and discuss the type of IUD that would be the best for you, and once one is selected, the doctor will give you a prescription and discuss the procedure and pain control with you. If you are under 18 it may be good to bring your mom or guardian with you to discuss consent.
3. Book your insertion appointment during your period (towards the tail end is often the best).
4. You pick the device up at the pharmacy of your choice (big box stores like Costco are usually the least expensive). Do this at least a week in advance of your insertion appointment in case of any manufacturer's shortages with the IUD you've chosen.
5. Arrive for your appointment at least 5 minutes early and with a full bladder as you will need to provide us with a urine sample and sign a consent form. Take 600 mg of Ibuprofen 30 mins before your appointment.
The whole insertion appointment usually takes about 30 minutes. Most women are ok to drive themselves home afterwards, although some get faint and dizzy so we suggest you rest a bit before driving or bring a driver. It is a good idea to bring a support person with you to hold your hand. We often do STI swabs at the same time and can even do your pap smear if you are due.
6. We ask that you see us again in 4-6 weeks after the insertion, so we can troubleshoot any problems and help you feel for the strings.
7. After that, you can continue to see your healthcare provider yearly for an IUD check. Enjoy the freedom!
When you are done with the IUD, the removal is a very simple and relatively painless procedure. There are no sharp instruments used like with the insertion. You are fertile again within 8 hours of the IUD being removed, so be sure to be ready!
Most women choose to reinsert the next IUD at the same time of removal so there is no interruption in contraception.