The IUD (Intra-Uterine Device)

What is the IUD?

An intra uterine device or IUD is a small T-shaped device made of flexible plastic that a health care provider inserts into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two different types of intrauterine devices (IUDs): hormonal and non-hormonal. There are currently four brands of hormonal IUDs—Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena—and one brand of non-hormonal IUD, ParaGard.

How does it work, and is the IUD effective?

IUDs affect the way sperm move preventing them from joining with an egg. If sperm cannot join with an egg pregnancy cannot happen. The Paragard IUD contains no hormones of any kind, and prevents pregnancy thanks to a tiny copper filament wrapped around the T. It’s the only super-effective non-hormonal birth control method around. All the hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by releasing a very small amount of a progestin hormone each day. The progestin acts locally in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Both types of IUDs work really, really well; they are 99.9% effective and are ranked among the most effective birth control methods you could use.

Are there any side effects from using the IUD?

The most common side effect is a change in your menstrual period

  • headache
  • vaginitis
  • weight gain
  • acne
  • breast or stomach pain
  • viral infections such as colds, sore throats, sinus infections
  • mood swings, nervousness or depression
  • nausea or dizziness
  • may be pain at the site of insertion

What should I know about choosing the IUD?

  • longest lasting form of birth control available to women today
  • no daily routine needed
  • nothing needs to be put in place before vaginal intercourse
  • IUDs can be used during breastfeeding
  • ability to become pregnant returns quickly once the IUD is removed