If you’re thinking about starting to use IUD birth control, or you’re actually using it as a contraceptive already but you want to know more about the safety of this type of birth control, let me give you some information.
What is an IUD?
IUD stands for “intrauterine device”. The IUD is a device with a form of “T” which is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two types of devices, a metallic (usually made of copper), and a flexible plastic.
The metallic IUD can last up to 12 years in the uterus. The plastic IUD can last around 5 years. As such, you do not have to worry about protection against pregnancy for a long time.
The metal in your body inhibits the sperm to move to the uterine cavity.
The plastic device delivers a small amount of a hormone called progestin, which is used to prevent pregnancy.
Preventing pregnancy until you and your partner are ready is a good sign of responsibility. Using the appropriate contraceptive method is vital, so let’s proceed to more information to see if an IUD birth control method is appealing to you.
How IUD works?
The hormone progestin in the IUD made of plastic prevents ovulation. This means, releasing an egg from the ovary.
Some specialists say that the IUD birth control alters the lining of the uterus. This prevents a fertilized egg from attaching the lining of the uterus, but there is no proof that this happens.
The progestin also thickens the cervical mucus, preventing the sperm to move easily and fertilize the egg.
How effective is the IUD?
The IUD is considered highly effective, about 99%. However, 2 of every 100 women can get pregnant.
How come if the IUD is 99% effective, 2 of every 100 women may become pregnant, it sounds too many, why not only one woman, or less than one? In fact, the theory says that protection should be less than 1 out of 100 women.
The risk of getting pregnant is less if you continually monitor that the IUD is in the correct position. Otherwise, the IUD can move and you may be exposed that a sperm can fertilize an egg. If the IUD is positioned correctly, it should not move and you will have 99% protection.
Necessarily a specialist must place the IUD in your uterus. Do not attempt to insert the IUD by yourself. Extreme security must be taken into account for the IUD birth control.
At the end of the “T” hangs a string of about 3 centimeters, which you can touch with your fingers and monitor if the IUD is in place. If you can touch this string, or if you notice that the string is shorter or longer, or even you touch the device, go immediately with your doctor to check the position of IUD.
If the IUD is moved, remember that you can always perform a pregnancy test to check if you are pregnant.
You must have regular checkups with your doctor to make sure the IUD is still in place, especially during the first months after insertion.
What are the benefits of using IUD?
IUD birth control, like any other contraceptive, such as the patch or the pill is very convenient because you do not have to put anything before having sex. Your sex life and sexual pleasure tend to improve when it is spontaneous and without worries.
You may think that a device inside the uterus can interfere with sexual intercourse because the penis may touch or reach the device. This is not true. The IUD is high enough in the uterus, so there is no interference with penetration.
Other advantages for IUD birth control are:
- The IUD is highly effective in preventing pregnancy, 99%.
- You can have sex as soon as you like after the IUD is inserted. However, it is recommended that if you use the plastic IUD, wait a week after insertion to allow time for the hormone progestin to be released. During this week use another type of birth control like or spermicidal.
- You can get pregnant immediately after removing the IUD.
- There are no residues.
- IUDs can be used during breastfeeding.
- In some women the IUD made of plastic may reduce period cramps and make their period lighter.
Personally, I am very fearful to any contraceptive, including the IUD Birth Control. The IUD is not a good alternative for me since I do not like to feel something inside my body. I do not want that fear to be the cause of a poor sexual relationship with my partner. If you’re like me, you should ask your doctor for another type of birth control, there are plenty.
What are the disadvantages of using IUD birth control?
IUD, like any other contraceptive, has some risks. So it is better to know in advance what are these risks or side effects. Nevertheless, IUD s in general are considered very safe, serious complications are rare to happen.
Personally, I do not use the IUD for birth control. The reason is because the IUD can cause vaginal infections, especially during the first three or four weeks of having the IUD. An infection in the uterus can cause the risk of not being able to get pregnant in the future. I love babies and this would be a tragedy for me. Nevertheless, specialists say that these infections are very rare to happen.
Another disadvantage that personally I do not like is:
If for some reason the IUD is inserted incorrectly or pushed to the wall of the uterus, the IUD may puncture the cervix, and in the worst cases, surgery may be needed to remove the IUD. I admit it, I am very fearful; I could not deal with this disadvantage. However, specialists say that this disadvantage is very rare to happen.
Other disadvantages for IUD birth control are:
- The IUD must be inserted and, if necessary, removed by a specialist.
- You must go to your doctor regularly to check that the IUD is properly positioned. My suggestion is that during the first month of using an IUD, any discomfort you feel, run immediately to your doctor. After one to three months, checkups with your doctor might be even once a year.
- You should regularly check by yourself that the IUD is in good position, especially after menstruation. This check can be done by inserting your index or middle finger into your vagina. You must touch that the string hangs around 3 centimeters. If you feel that the string is shorter or longer than normal, and even you can touch the hard part of the IUD, immediately go to your doctor to replace the IUD. Security does not have a price and must be taken into account for the IUD birth control. If you feel signs of pregnancy, you must start using another type of birth control until your doctor confirms your pregnancy. The IUD must be removed immediately. You can also perform a pregnancy test to know if are pregnant.
- If the IUD slips out of place, you may get pregnant. And if you are already pregnant and the IUD is still in place, there may be some serious risks of: Ectopic pregnancyMiscarriage, orPelvic infections So, go to you doctor immediately if you notice the IUD is out of place.
- IUD Birth Control is usually for women who have already had a pregnancy before. The uterus of a woman who has not had a pregnancy may be very narrow and it is difficult to place the IUD.
- Your period may be with an extensive bleeding, and even with more cramping. Some women may experience the opposite, a lighter period and less cramping.
What else should I know about IUD?
Here you have even more things you should take into account when deciding to use the IUD.
- There are two brands of Intrauterine Devices, the ParaGard (metal) and Mirena (plastic). There may be other brands, but these are the most common in the United States. Possibly these brands may be found in other countries.
- The IUD in your body should be completely imperceptible; you should not have any discomfort as long as you make regular checkups and check for the string ends.
- Feel completely safe to have sex using the IUD. IUD Birth Control is a reversible method. You can get pregnant immediately after removing the IUD.
- If you use the plastic IUD, just wait about 7 days to have sex.
- Do not forget your regular checkups. Normally once a month during the first three months after the IUD is inserted. After that, your doctor may recommend you even once a year checkups.
- Every time you put your finger into your vagina to check for the string ends, wash your hands to avoid any infection.
- If you have sex with more than one person, the IUD is not the most appropriate method for you because the risk of infection may be higher. The IUD is commonly used for women with only one partner.
- If you choose this type of birth control, you should not use tampons during menstruation because they may interfere with the string of the IUD.
If you are sure to use the IUD birth control, and your doctor agrees, pay attention to any discomfort or infection, and if necessary, go immediately to your doctor to review the IUD.
Remember, there is always the possibility of another birth control method.
Pay attention if you experience the following symptoms:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Fever or/and chills
- Vaginal discharge
- Missed period, or any irregularity with your menstruation, like heavier periods than normal
- Any pain during intercourse
- Severe abdominal cramps
If you and your partner have decided to have a baby, remember just ask your doctor to remove the IUD and learn how to get pregnant.