Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is an intrauterine device?
An intrauterine device, called an IUD for short,
is a small, plastic, T-shaped stick with a string attached to the end. The IUD
is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Your doctor can place an IUD
in your uterus during an office visit. Once in place, the IUD stays in your
uterus until your doctor removes it.
How does it work?
The IUD prevents sperm from joining with an egg.
It does this by making the sperm unable to go into the egg and by changing the
lining of the uterus.
What are the advantages of an IUD?
The IUD has many advantages:
- It's very effective in preventing pregnancy,
because you're always protected from pregnancy and there's nothing to remember
to do (for example, no pills to take).
- It's the cheapest form of birth control in the
- An IUD can be removed by your doctor at any time.
- It starts working right away.
- There's a low risk of side effects.
- Mothers who use an IUD can breast-feed safely.
- Neither you nor your partner can feel it.
What are the
You may have cramps and backache for the first
few hours after an IUD is put in your uterus. Some women have bleeding for a
couple of weeks after the IUD is inserted, and heavy periods after that. Rarely,
the uterus can be injured when the IUD is put inside.
An older kind of IUD, which is no longer
available, had serious side effects, including pelvic infections and infertility
(problems getting pregnant after removal). These problems are very rare with the
The IUD doesn't protect you from sexually
transmitted diseases, such as AIDS and herpes. In fact, these infections can be
more serious in women who have an IUD. In addition, the more people you have sex
with, the greater your chance of getting an infection if you have an IUD. The
IUD is best for women who have only one long-term sex partner. In addition, you
shouldn't use the IUD if you're pregnant, if you're allergic to copper, or if
you have abnormal bleeding or cancer of the cervix or uterus.
How long does the IUD stay inside?
It depends on the kind you have. The IUD used
most often is covered in copper and can stay in your body for up to 10 years.
The other kind contains a hormone called progesterone. This one must be replaced
every year. Either kind can be removed by a doctor at any time if you decide to
get pregnant or that you don't want to use it anymore.
How do I care for my IUD?
After your IUD is put in place, you may swim,
exercise, use tampons and have sex as soon as you want to. At the time of each
menstrual period, you should check for the string inside the vagina by inserting
a clean finger in your vagina. Call your doctor if you can't feel the string or
if you feel the IUD itself. Either of these could mean that the IUD is not in
the right place. Call your doctor if you miss your period or if you notice any
unusual fluid or odor coming from your vagina. Keep having regular check-ups