Intrauterine device: what is it?
An intrauterine device is a type of contraceptive inserted into your uterus, the organ where your baby grows. This device is shaped T; it is made of plastic hence very flexible. It is so small with only about a quarter that the carriers don’t even notice it.
IUDs are of two types, one being copper (Paraguard) and the other hormonal (Mirena, Liletta, Kyleena, Skyla). The hormonal types prevent pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus to disallow the movement of sperm and thinning the uterus lining so that it cannot support pregnancy. Sometimes, it may block ovulation.
The copper IUDs slow down the movement of sperm and prevent it from meeting the egg. Both types of IUDs are very effective and are considered the most potent methods besides Vasectomy and implant.
Intrauterine device and other types of contraceptives
The other methods of birth control include ring, patch, pill, implant, and shot. Seeing that there are so many options available, it can be overwhelming to choose, but the ones listed are the most considered.
Out of all the reversible contraceptives, IUDs are the second most effective, with the implant being the first. With the hormonal IUD, there is only a 0.2% chance of pregnancy, while the copper is 0.8%.
Also, compared to the pills, IUD is a long-term contraceptive plan and requires low maintenance. There is no need to take medications for IUDs and they can stay potent in the body for three to ten years.
The side effects of IUDs, especially the hormonal type, are limited and most women do not have any adverse reactions. However, the positive side effects are that some women will scarcely see their periods, and those who do will have it lightly. Periods, however, return to normal after the IUD has been removed.
The downside of IUDs is that it requires a medical procedure which takes time and physical investments. Also, they do not prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. It means that you will need to use a barrier method like a condom to have sex with a new partner.
Types of IUDs
You will likely be recommended to go for the hormonal IUD since it is more effective with fewer side effects. A copper IUD might cause you to experience more cramps and bleeding during your period, especially if you had painful periods before using it.
Though hormonal IUDs allow more comfortable periods, you may be asked to go for the copper method if you do not react well to hormones. It also acts well as an emergency contraceptive and offers protection for up to five days after having unprotected sex. It is the most effective emergency contraceptive for women with a higher BMI.
In all, your decision of the type of IUD to use will depend on your medical history.
How do I get an IUD?
Visit a centre for Planned Parenthood in your locality, or visit your gynaecologist. If you do not have one, you can visit us or ask your primary care doctor for a recommendation.
Health insurance usually covers the cost of IUDs and their appointments.
Getting ready for the appointment
IUDs are best inserted during the last days of your period. This is because your cervix is already open. But in a case where this is not possible, your doctor will use a paracervical block to numb the cervix and make it less painful for you to receive the IUD.
Before inserting the piece, your doctor will examine your vagina and cervix to get your body ready. Then, the doctor will put a speculum into your vagina to help access your uterus and insert the device. She will leave a string hanging a few inches down in the vagina. This procedure lasts within five to fifteen minutes.
You should eat a light meal and drink water before your appointment. You can also take ibuprofen to reduce the pain.
Being comfortable during the appointment
You may feel overwhelmed by just thinking about the procedure, mostly if you have not done one before, but there is nothing to worry about. Doctors have done this procedure for millions of women and have learned all the techniques to make your procedure go as planned.
After the appointment
You may have some cramping after inserting the IUD, but this is normal and should not last long. Ease the cramps with a heating pad or ibuprofen. You may have irregular periods, but they will normalise and become lighter with time.
Though it is rare, some people have their IUDs falling out – you should call your doctor if you notice this.
If you are considering to get an IUD in London, then you can book your appointment at the Gynaecology Clinic.