IUD Patient Education

By: Dr. Kim Khuc

Did you know there is reversible long-term birth control that is better at preventing pregnancy than a tubal ligation? It’s called an intrauterine device, or IUD. The best part about the IUD is you don’t have to remember to take your birth control every day, every week, every month or even every year. And, an IUD can be removed at any time before its expiration date.

Types of IUDs

There are two main types of IUDs available:

Progesterone IUD

  • Lasts 3 – 5 years, depending on the one you choose
  • Options include Mirena®, Skyla® and Kyleena®

Copper IUD

  • Has no hormones and lasts up to 10 years
  • Paragard®

Benefits

The IUD is great for women who have side effects,—such as headaches, mood changes or breast tenderness—to the birth control pill, patch or injection.

Progesterone IUDs release a small amount of progesterone locally into the uterus. That means you will have fewer hormones in your body, making hormonal side effects unlikely. The Mirena IUD, which has a little more progesterone, can also decrease your menstrual flow and reduce your menstrual cramping. Some women even stop having periods, which is a normal result.

The copper IUD is ideal for women who prefer to have their periods and do not desire or cannot use hormones. The IUD works by preventing fertilization. It does not abort a pregnancy.

Who should get an IUD?

The IUD is a great option for all women, including teens and women who have never been pregnant. It does not lead to problems with getting pregnant in the future. It also works well for women in the final 5 – 10 years before menopause. This is the time when periods often become heavier and more painful, and the Mirena IUD can ease the transition to menopause by decreasing menstrual flow and pain.

The only women who should not get an IUD are women who have large fibroids in the uterus.

Insertion

The IUD is inserted into the uterus at your ob-gyn’s office, typically during your period. If you have unpredictable periods, use reliable birth control for the two weeks leading up to your visit. Expect to have spotting and menstrual-like cramping during the procedure. Take ibuprofen before and after the procedure to help with the cramping. You can return to normal activities later that day.

You can also get an IUD inserted immediately after a vaginal delivery or cesarean section. The expulsion risk is a little higher than waiting until your six-week post-delivery visit, but it is worth talking about with your ob-gyn.

Removal

The IUD can be easily removed at the ob-gyn’s office at any time. In the rare instance the strings are not readily visible, an ultrasound is used to help remove the IUD. After the IUD is removed, you are able to get pregnant without delay.

Risks and side effects

The risks of using an IUD are very low. They include IUD expulsion (usually in the first few weeks after insertion) and incorrect placement outside of the uterus. While the progesterone IUD can decrease menstrual flow, it can also lead to irregular spotting or bleeding.

Call your Women’s Care Florida provider if you would like to discuss using an IUD.