Intrauterine Device (IUD)
The letters IUD stand for "intrauterine device." IUDs are small, "T-shaped" devices made of a flexible synthetic material. At New York OB/GYN Associates™ your board certified OB/GYN will insert an IUD into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two brands of IUD available in the United States — ParaGard™ and Mirena™. The ParaGard™ Intrauterine Device contains copper and is effective for 10 years. The Mirena™ Intrauterine Device is a silicon cylinder that releases a small amount of progestin a hormone and is effective for five years.
How does the IUD Work?
Hormonal and copper IUDs work in different ways:
With a copper IUD, a small amount of copper is released into the uterus. Because this type of Intrauterine device is not hormonal it does not affect your ability to ovulate or your menstrual cycle. Copper IUDs, such as Paragard™, prevent sperm from being able to enter the egg and fertilize, the device also occupies the endometrial cavity, where the fertilized egg is meant to implant. The copper prevents the fertilized egg from finding a suitable area to implant and thus it passes and results in menses.
With hormonal IUDs, a small amount of progestin or a similar hormone is released into the uterus. These hormones thicken cervical mucus and make it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix.
How Effective Is the IUD?
At New York OB/GYN Associates™ we understand that effectiveness is extremely important when making a decision about which method of birth control to use. IUD’s are one of the most effective forms of birth control available. The ParaGard™ or the Mirena™ Intrauterine Device is greater than 99% effective. It is important to realize that Intrauterine devices do not protect against sexually transmitted deseases.
The ParaGard™ Intrauterine Device can also be used as emergency birth control, to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. It can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 99.9 percent if inserted within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected intercourse.
How Safe is an IUD?
It is important to note that all devices and medications have some risks. Most women can use either the ParaGard™ or the Mirena™ Intrauterine Device safely. However, certain conditions increase the risk of side effects. At New York OB/GYN Associates™ a board certified OB/GYN will meet with you to go over your medical history and help you decide whether an Intrauterine Device is safe for you.
An IUD should not be used if you:
- have had a pelvic infection following either childbirth or an abortion in the past three months
- have or may have a sexually transmitted infection or other pelvic infection
- think you might be pregnant
- have cervical cancer that hasn't been treated
- have cancer of the uterus
- have unexplained bleeding in your vagina
- have pelvic tuberculosis
- have a history of uterine perforation
- Although very uncommon, during examination your board certified OB/GYN may determine that the unique size, shape, or condition of your uterus does not allow for the correct placement of an IUD.
ParaGard™ Intrauterine Device should not be used if you:
- have, or may have, an allergy to copper or have Wilson's Disease — an inherited disease that blocks the body’s ability to get rid of copper
Mirena™ IUD should not be used if you:
- have severe liver disease
- have, or may have, breast cancer
If you have a condition that makes it unsafe to use an IUD, there are many other methods of birth control that may be safe for you. Your board certified OB/GYN will go over all of the different methods of birth control and will help you determine the best method for you.
What are the benefits of IUD?
The ParaGard™ and the Mirena™ Intrauterine Devices are two of the least expensive, longest lasting forms of birth control available to women today.
Some of the benefits include:
- The ParaGard™ IUD does not change a woman's hormone levels. As such this device will not cause weight fluctuation or mood disturbances.
- The Mirena™ Intrauterine Device may reduce period cramps and make your period lighter. On average, menstrual flow is reduced by 90 percent. For some women, periods stop altogether.
- Intrauterine devices may improve your sex life. There is no need to interrupt intercourse and put on a condom to prevent pregnancy. This may make you feel free to be more spontaneous without worrying about becoming pregnant.
- Intrauterine devices can be used during breastfeeding.
- The ability to become pregnant returns quickly once the IUD is removed.
- The Intrauterine Device is very effective. Nonetheless, some women may incur an irregular period. If you are concerned about a possible pregnancy, you can always take a pregnancy test.
How Soon can I have sex after inserting an IUD?
The ParaGard™ IUD is effective immediately, therefore you can have sex directly after the Intrauterine Device is inserted. With the Mirena™ IUD, it is only effective immediately if inserted within seven days after the first day of menstruation. If you have Mirena™ Intrauterine Device inserted at any other time during your menstrual cycle, you should use another method of birth control
. Protection with the Mirena™ Intrauterine Device will begin after seven days.
What To expect?
To get an Intrauterine Device, you need to visit your board certified OB/GYN at New York OB/GYN Associates™. Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history, lifestyle and preform a complete physical exam. You may be tested for sexually transmitted infections or for other infections to make sure it’s safe for you to get an IUD. If you have any kind of pelvic infection, you may need treatment before getting an Intrauterine Device.
An IUD can be inserted at any time of the month. But it is usually more comfortable if you have it inserted in the middle of your menstrual cycle. That is when the cervix , the opening to the uterus, is the most open. An Intrauterine Device can also be safely inserted after a pregnancy or abortion. You can have an Intrauterine Device inserted after waiting at least 4-6 weeks after giving birth. Women who are breastfeeding should wait four weeks before having a Mirena™ IUD inserted.
A Board Certified OB/GYN will insert the Intrauterine Device. The IUD is inserted into the uterus through the cervix. When the Intrauterine Device is in place, a string will hang down into the vagina. It will be about one to two inches long. It is common for women to feel some cramping when the IUD is first inserted. Many women only feel mild temporary discomfort. The cramps go away after you rest. New York OB/GYN Associates™ will provide a prescription for pain medication for you to take as necessary. You will have the option of having a local anesthetic inserted to minimize discomfort.
What Should I Do After Getting an IUD?
You will be scheduled for a follow up appointment with our office after your first period. Your board certified OB/GYN at New York OB/GYN Associates™ will perform a sonogram to determine whether the Intrauterine Device is placed correctly. The ParaGard™ IUD should be replaced after 10 years. The Mirena™ IUD should be replaced after 5 years.
How Is an IUD Removed?
- Having an Intrauterine Device removed or replaced is usually simple. Your Board Certified OB/GYN at New York OB/GYN Associates™ will remove the IUD for you. Women should never try to remove IUDs themselves or ask nonprofessionals to do it for them. Serious damage could result.
- In rare cases, Intrauterine Devices cannot be easily pulled free. In these cases, the cervix may have to be dilated and a device may be used to free the IUD. In very rare cases, a minimally invasive procedure may be necessary.