What is an IUD?

AN IUD or Intra-Uterine Device is a form of long term birth control that is highly effective. It inserted into your uterus by your doctor. It is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is wrapped in copper or contains hormones. A plastic string tied to the end of the IUD hangs down through the cervix into the vagina. You can check that it is in place by feeling for this string. The string is also used by your doctor to remove it.

Types of IUD

Hormonal IUD. The hormonal IUD, such as the Mirena , releases levonorgestrel, which is a form of the hormone progestin. The hormonal IUD appears to be slightly more effective at preventing pregnancy than the copper Intra-uterine device. The Mirena is effective for five years. Hormonal Intra-uterine devices prevents fertilization by damaging or killing sperm and making the mucus in the cervix thick and sticky, so sperm can’t get through to the uterus. It also keeps the lining of the uterus (endometrium) from growing very thick. This makes the lining a poor place for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. The hormones in this IUD also reduce menstrual bleeding and cramping.

Copper IUD. The most commonly used IUD is the copper IUD (such as Paragard). Copper wire is wound around the stem of the T-shaped IUD. The copper intra-uterine device can stay in place for up to 10 years and is a highly effective form of contraception. The copper iud does not have any hormones and is a good option for anyone looking for a non-hormonal form of birth control. The IUD also affects the uterine lining (where a fertilized egg would implant and grow). Copper is toxic to sperm. It makes the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm. This fluid contains white blood cells, copper ions, enzymes, and prostaglandins

You can have an IUD inserted by your doctor at any time, as long as you are not pregnant and you don’t have a pelvic infection. The insertion procedure only takes a few minutes. Sometimes a local anesthetic is injected into the area around the cervix, but this is not always needed. Intra-uterine device insertion is easiest in women who have had a vaginal childbirth in the past.

Your doctor may have you feel for the string right after insertion, to be sure you know what it feels like. Your doctor may want to see you 4 to 6 weeks after the insertion, to make sure it is in place. Be sure to check the string of your IUD after every period. To do this, insert a finger into your vagina and feel for the cervix, which is at the top of the vagina and feels harder than the rest of your vagina (some women say it feels like the tip of your nose). You should be able to feel the thin, plastic string coming out of the opening of your cervix. It may coil around the cervix, which can make it difficult to find.

Call your doctor if you cannot feel the string or the rigid end of the device. If you cannot feel the string, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the device has been expelled. Sometimes the string is just difficult to feel or has been pulled up into the cervical canal (which will not harm you). An exam and sometimes an ultrasound will show whether the intra-uterine device is still in place. Use another form of birth control until your doctor makes sure that the IUD is still in place. If you have no problems, check the string after each period and return to your doctor once a year for a checkup.

When using the hormonal or copper type of intra-uterine devices, fewer than 1 woman out of 100 becomes pregnant in the first year. Most pregnancies that occur with IUD use happen because it was pushed out (expelled from) the uterus unnoticed. Most Intra-uterine devices are most likely to be expelled by the body in the first few months after insertion, after being inserted just after childbirth, or in women who have not had a baby.

Advantages of Intra-uterine devices include cost-effectiveness over time, ease of use, lower risk of ectopic pregnancies and no interruption of foreplay or intercourse. If you are interested in an IUD an annual exam and gonorrhea/chlamydia testing will need to be done before the it inserted.It will have to be inserted during your period so please schedule the appointment accordingly.

You can request your appointment online for IUD Insertion.

Aanchor Health Center is committed to providing Reproductive Health Care Access for women in the Illinois Area. We provide annual exams, pap smears, well women checks, birth control, STD checks, free urine pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and abortions.

Aanchor Health Center is a state licensed facility with board certified physicians and is AAAHC certified. We are a proud member of Illinois Abortion Clinics.