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Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)

Many women recoil at the thought of having to take a birth control pill each day. What's more, fear can strike when a woman forgets to take the pill, potentially altering the effectiveness of her birth control method. The truth is, a woman may cycle through several different birth control methods—from the pill to the patch to shots and many other methods—only to feel dissatisfaction with her choice.

Fortunately, if you are one of many women who seek a birth control solution that better fits your lifestyle and healthcare needs, an intrauterine device (IUD) could be the birth control method you need. An intrauterine device is a small, t-shaped device which fits inside the uterus and prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg.

As a long-term contraceptive solution, IUDs are inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional and can last up to 10 years. Shown to be 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, it is considered hassle-free by many women who no longer wish to deal with the daily, monthly or yearly nuisances of birth control. Yet, if your birth control needs change with time, an IUD can easily be removed by your healthcare provider.

To schedule a consultation with a qualified women's health professional in who can discuss your birth control options with you, call (408) 946-9453 or contact us online.

Types of IUDs

Depending upon your unique health circumstances, your healthcare provider may recommend one of two types of IUDs:

Hormonal

Made out of soft but durable plastic, hormonal IUDs release a small amount of levonorgestrel—the synthetic hormone progestin found in many birth control pills—which causes cervical mucus to thicken to keep the sperm from reaching the uterus; it can also keep the ovaries from releasing an egg altogether. There are currently 4 brands of hormonal IUDs available in the United States: Kyleena™, Liletta®, Mirena® and Skyla®. Depending on the brand, hormonal IUDs can last 3-5 years.

Non-Hormonal

Made out of soft but durable plastic and natural copper, a non-hormonal IUD relies on an immune response to prevent pregnancy by interfering with sperm movement and egg fertilization. There is currently 1 non-hormonal IUD available in the United States: ParaGard®. It can help to prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years.

Benefits of IUDs

While each birth control method carries its own list of benefits, IUD benefits include:

What to Expect During Your IUD Insertion

Your healthcare provider will first discuss your birth control options with you to ensure the IUD is the best birth control method for your needs. A pelvic exam is required prior to an IUD insertion in which your vagina, cervix and uterus are examined. You may receive testing for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) prior to your insertion.

An IUD is only available by prescription and is inserted by a healthcare professional in his/her medical office. You may be given medication to help open the cervix to make the insertion easier. For the actual insertion, a speculum is inserted into your vagina and the IUD is implanted through the opening of your cervix into your uterus. The entire insertion process typically takes under 5 minutes. Mild cramping and pain may occur but only lasts a few minutes. An IUD can be implanted at any time of the month, regardless of your menstrual cycle.

The ParaGard® non-hormonal IUD provides immediate contraceptive upon its insertion. Hormonal IUDs provide pregnancy protection 7 days after insertion, unless it is inserted within 7 days of the start of your period, in which case it is effective immediately. Your healthcare provider will give you instructions to check your IUD the first few weeks following its insertion to make sure it is still in its proper place. This placement is also verified at your yearly gynecological exam.

It is important to still use condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases as the IUD will not protect you against their transmission.

IUD Side Effects

Each woman can have a different experience from an IUD insertion. For some, there are no side effects; for others, cramping, backaches or spotting may occur in the days that follow their insertion and may last up to 6 months.

Serious problems with an IUD are extremely rare but can occur such as infection, an IUD puncturing the uterine wall during insertion or an IUD slipping out of place. If an IUD partially or fully slips out of place, a woman is able to get pregnant, and the IUD must be removed to avoid further complications.

Take Control of Your Reproductive Health

Intrauterine devices give you peace of mind. They are safe, effective, convenient and an option many women now seek out as their preferred birth control method. If you are interested in a long-term, cost-effective birth control, contact a women's health specialist in who specializes in intrauterine devices. Call (408) 946-9453 or contact us online. to get started today.

Author
Gul A. Zikria, MD, FACOG As an expert in preventive care, innovative treatment solutions, and laparoscopic surgery, board-certified OB/GYN Gul A. Zikria, MD, FACOG, is a trusted practitioner who’s been in private practice since 1985. Dr. Zikria earned his doctor of medicine from Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark. He went on to complete a competitive surgical residency program at Georgetown University in Washington. Dr. Zikria then went through a comprehensive obstetrics and gynecology residency program through the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center at the Magee-Women’s Hospital. He welcomes new and existing patients to his practice in Milpitas, California.

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