Demystifying the Intrauterine Device (IUD)

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By Anna Spoelhof, FNP

Laurie Birkholz, MD, and Associates | Ms.Medicine

Holland and Douglas, Michigan

An IUD is a long-acting reversible contraceptive – known as a LARC for short. The device can last up to 10 years (depending on the brand) and is one of the most effective at protecting against unwanted pregnancy. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), IUDs are 20X more effective than birth control pills, the patch or the ring.

An IUD is placed inside a woman’s uterus by her health care provider to provide contraception, help with heavy menstrual bleeding, or both. The device is tiny and shaped like a T, with strings attached at the end for removal. These strings remain inside the vagina, extending only about an inch or two out of the cervix and are not noticeable during sex or when looking at the vulva. There are two main types of IUD’s: Hormonal IUDs which release Progestin and a copper IUD.

There are many misconceptions and myths about the IUD. Here at LBMD & Associates, we believe “Knowledge is power”, and want women to have ALL the facts so that they can choose the birth control option that is right for them. Read on to learn more about the IUD and whether it might be a good option for you!

 

  • Myth: The IUD is dangerous, it can often cause infections
    • The risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) among IUD users is low and is similar to women using combined oral contraceptives. In fact, data from clinical trials concluded that PID risk is 1% in the first 20 days and 0.5% in the first 3-6 months. IUD’s also do not increase risk of HIV or HPV.
  • Myth: There is an increased risk of infertility
    • There is no evidence of an increased risk of infertility among IUD users. If anything, women often find it is easier to conceive shortly after an IUD versus after birth control pills.
  • Myth: IUDs are best for women who already have children
    • IUDs are a good choice for adolescent and adult women who desire a highly effective contraceptive method, long-term yet reversible contraception, and/or need to avoid estrogen exposure. IUD use is appropriate for women who have never given birth, and is recommended by multiple medical societies. IUD placement is well tolerated by most women who have never given birth, despite some mild pain with IUD insertion.

 

  • Fact: IUDs are one of the most effective forms of reversible contraception
    • IUD’s are > 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
  • Fact: IUDs reduce menstrual bleeding and cramps
    • IUDs reduce menstrual flow, painful cramping, and lighten bleeding patterns. In fact, the use of an IUD for treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding is FDA approved. Another benefit is that most women experience an absence of their period by 1 year of use. (Yes, this is safe.)
  • Fact: IUDs are REALLY convenient
    • Once inserted, you don’t have to think about it! Often, women like this option because they won’t have to remember to take their pill at the same time every day. An IUD does have an expiration date and will need to be removed after 5-10 years, depending on the brand.
  • Fact: IUDs can be used during breastfeeding
    • Unlike other forms of hormonal contraception, an IUD can be used as an effective form of contraception while breastfeeding and will not affect a mother’s supply of breast milk.

 

Have more questions about IUDs? At LBMD & Associates, we believe that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, & want you to be empowered to choose options that are right for you. Feel free to contact us at info@lauriebirkholzmd.com

 

 

 

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