IUD stands for intrauterine device and IUDs have been widely used in other countries for years, but now their popularity with American women is increasing. However, IUDs are still not as popular compared to condoms or birth control pills. The lack of demand is somewhat surprising because an IUD only has a 1% failure rate and one type can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years while another will last for five years. It’s thought that part of the reason for a low take-up of IUDs is due to misinformation, particularly about the insertion process.

In fact, IUDs are extraordinarily effective and long-term contraceptive device which can be removed if you decide you want to become pregnant at any time. IUDs work by influencing the way sperm move, preventing them from joining with an egg. There are two different types of IUDs available in the United States which are hormonal, or you may have a copper IUD which doesn’t contain any hormones. IUDs are small “T” shaped devices that are inserted in the uterus by your gynecologist or healthcare provider. Once in place, the IUD is held in position by the cervix.

Hormonal or Hormone-Free?
One of the most popular brands of hormonal IUDs is Mirena while another is called Skyla. Skyla is slightly smaller than Mirena, but both work the same way. Each day a small amount of progestin is released which creates mucus at the cervix, preventing sperm from passing through. A hormonal IUD will typically last three to five years.

Non-hormonal IUDs include ParaGard which is wrapped with copper. The copper emits ions which confuse or even kill sperm cells. Some women prefer the idea of something that is hormone-free and which is also chemical-free because this type of IUD causes less disruption to your regular menstrual cycle. It even possible for a non hormonal IUD to be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex for use as an emergency contraceptive.

Having an IUD Inserted
The insertion process for IUDs is very straightforward, but it’s important to get it placed by an experienced doctor or gynecologist. When inserted correctly, the procedure should take only a minute to be completed and is comparable to getting a Pap smear. A speculum is used to see inside your vagina, and your healthcare provider will ensure you are being fitted with the right sized device. The depth of your uterus is measured, and the IUD is inserted using an applicator tube, and once in place, the strings are cut, and you’ll be ready to go home.

What Are the Potential Side-Effects?
Some women find the insertion process does cause slight cramping, and a very few will experience mild nausea or lightheadedness, but these side effects are rare. If you have a non hormonal IUD, then you may find your periods worsen a little for just a few months before returning to normal. With a hormonal IUD, you may have spotting for up to 6 months, but your period should become lighter, typically only lasting a couple of days. Other potential side-effects include mood swings, increased acne, and breast tenderness. There is a tiny risk that the IUD could become dislodged, but this risk is only 3%. It would, however, leave you unprotected until the IUD can be reinserted but will not affect your health.

Potential Risks and Benefits of Having an IUD
The primary benefit of having an IUD is that this form of birth control is entirely reversible and will begin working as soon as it is inserted. An IUD is maintenance-free and is highly effective. If you choose a copper wrapped IUD, there’s a chance your periods may even disappear altogether while hormonal IUDs can be useful for easing severe menstrual cramps and will make your periods lighter.

The potential risk of having an IUD is that it cannot prevent sexually transmitted diseases and some women find the insertion process uncomfortable. Hormonal IUDs do release chemicals into your bloodstream which can cause temporary cramping.

Is It Right for Me?
If you are considering having an IUD fitted, then it’s worth discussing this form of contraception with your gynecologist or healthcare provider. They will be able to give you more detailed information based on your medical history and your health needs. Although not right for everyone, IUDs can be a great solution that you might not even have considered.

Author's Bio: 

I am Amelia Grant, journalist, and blogger. I think that information is a great force that is able to change people’s lives for the better. That is why I feel a strong intention to share useful and important things about health self-care, wellness and other advice that may be helpful for people. Being an enthusiast of a healthy lifestyle that keeps improving my life, I wish the same for everyone.

Our attention to ourselves, to our daily routine and habits, is very important. Things that may seem insignificant, are pieces of a big puzzle called life. I want to encourage people to be more attentive to their well-being, improve every little item of it and become healthier, happier, stronger. All of us deserve that. And I really hope that my work helps to make the world better.