The IUD is a little, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets put in your uterus to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg. Sounds odd, but it works like a charm. There are two types: Mirena and ParaGard. They offer years of protection (between five and twelve) depending on the type you get. And if you want to get pregnant, you can have them removed at any time. Need to make a choice between IUDs?
Two types of IUDs include:
- Mirena - This plastic IUD releases a small amount of the synthetic hormone progestin to help your body keep sperm from reaching your cervix. It lasts up to seven years and may give you lighter periods.
- Paragard - This IUD is made of plastic and a small amount of natural, safe copper. It’s 100 percent hormone-free and doesn’t alter your periods. It lasts up to 12 years.
Get it and forget it
If you're a busy person who doesn't want to worry about remembering birth control, the IUD just may be for you. Once it's in, you're good to go for years.
No packages or prescriptions to pick up at the pharmacy, so there's nothing that could get lost or forgotten.
No one can tell when you have an IUD. (Some partners say they can feel the string, but that can be adjusted.)
Safe and sound
Most experts agree, if you’re a healthy woman, you’re probably a good candidate for the IUD. That’s true even if you’re young, haven't ever been pregnant, or haven’t had kids yet.
The pregnancy question
You should return to fertility (fancy way of saying you should go back to being able to get pregnant) very quickly after you have the IUD removed, which is great if you want to have a baby. But if you're not ready to get pregnant as soon as you have an IUD taken out, be sure to protect yourself with an alternate method.
There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone's different, so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.
Positive “side effects”? You bet.
- Easy to use
- You don’t have to stop and do anything before sex.
- Long-lasting protection without much effort
- The ParaGard brand of IUD doesn't change your hormone levels
- The Mirena brand of IUD may reduce cramps and make your period much, much lighter. (Some women's periods stop completely.)
- You can use it while you're breastfeeding
Everyone worries about negative side effects, but for many women, they're not a problem. Most women adjust to having an IUD pretty quickly, but give yourself time. It could take a few months.
The most common complaints:
- Spotting between periods (especially during the first few months after you get an IUD)
- Increased period flow (for users of the ParaGard brand)
- Cramps and backaches
Other stuff to watch out for:
- IUD slipping out
- IUD pushing through the wall of the uterus
If you still feel uncomfortable after three months, switch methods and stay protected. You're worth it.
*For a very small number of women, there are risks of serious side effects.