I was recently talking with a college friend about her birth control options now that she is newly married and focusing on her career. She has grown tired of oral contraceptive pills and forgets to take them at the same time every day. I suggested a variety of options including an intrauterine device (IUD) and was surprised to hear that she knew very little about it. I’ve noticed a similar trend in my patients, so here is a bit of information for you or someone you know who is not quite ready for a bundle of joy.
What is an IUD? It is a T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus through the opening in the cervix. It can be placed in the office. Before inserting an IUD, your health care provider may wish to check for sexually transmitted infections. Your physician may also recommend taking Ibuprofen before the IUD insertion to help with the discomfort.
The procedure takes approximately five to 10 minutes and involves using a speculum, slightly dilating the cervix and inserting the device. After five to seven days after insertion, the IUD is considered effective birth control. A back-up birth control method, such as a condom, is recommended for five to seven days after insertion.
It is important to note that an IUD does not protect from sexually transmitted infections, so condom use is still recommended. There is also a small risk of infection up to 20 days after insertion that can be easily treated with antibiotics. After that point, the infection risk is the same as for a woman without an IUD.
There are two different types of IUDs. The first is made of copper (copper T380A IUD). The failure rate after one year is 0.8% for this type. Common complaints from women with copper IUDs are abnormal vaginal bleeding or pain with menstruation. The copper IUD can remain in place for 10 years. The second type of IUD contains progesterone (levonorgestrol intrauterine system) and has a 0.2% failure rate in the first year of use. Common concerns from users for the levonogestrol IUD include no menstrual period or irregular vaginal spotting. The progesterone IUD can remain in place for five years.
IUDs are an excellent option for birth control because they require no day-to-day work. They can also save you money in the long run. When comparing the price for five years worth of birth control, IUDs were the least expensive form of reversible birth control. The downside is that they require a high initial cost. Many insurance companies will cover the devices, but if not, they run between $750 and $850. If you are unsatisfied with your current method of birth control, talk to your health care provider about other options, such as IUDs, that are available.