There are lots of different methods of birth control to choose from. Depending on your body and your life, you have to decide which method is best for you. Your doctor or a clinician at a clinic can help you decide. The IUD is a good option for some women, including some teens. The IUD does not protect you from STDs but can be used together with the condom which does help to protect you from STDs.
“What is the IUD?”
An IUD (intrauterine device) is a very small piece of plastic that is shaped like a "T." The main way that it works is by changing the lining of the uterus so that sperm can't live and travel well to get to the egg. A clinician places it inside a woman's uterus to prevent pregnancy. It stays there and works for 5 to 10 years, depending on which kind of IUD is used.
Two small strings are attached to the IUD. These strings hang down through the cervix (the opening of the uterus). The strings help the woman know that her IUD is in place. They also help the clinician take the IUD out when it needs to be changed.
The strings can't be felt by the woman when she goes about her normal day. They can't be felt by her or her partner during intercourse because the strings are very thin and soft. A clinician can remove the IUD whenever the woman decides she no longer wants to use it as her method of pregnancy prevention or has decided to become pregnant.
There are two types of IUDs being used in the United States:
- The Paragard IUD (also called the Copper T) is partly wrapped in a very thin copper wire. It works for up to 10 years.
- The Mirena IUD has the hormone progestin in it. Mirena works for up to 5 years.
Some Advantages of IUDs:
- IUDs work very well to prevent pregnancy.
- IUDs are easy to use- you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
- IUDs last a long time.
- You may have lighter periods or no periods at all with Mirena.
Some Possible Disadvantages of IUDs:
- The IUD does not protect against STDs
- Increased chance of pelvic infection and infertility if it is inserted when a women has an STD.
- Some women experience cramping when the IUD is put in or taken out.
- Some women experience side effects with the Mirena like irregular spotting, sore breasts or acne. These usually go away in a few months but if they bother you or don’t go away, talk with a health care provider about a different method of birth control for you.
- With the Paraguard, some women have heavier or longer periods with cramping which can sometimes lead to anemia.
- Very few women experience serious health problems