IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are the fastest-growing birth control method. Used as long-term birth control, different IUDs can be incredibly helpful in saving money, time, and worry. But because of their more recent increase and a lack of sex education, getting an IUD can often be shrouded in mystery and confusion about if IUDs are safe and how they work.
Recently, one of my best friends and I had a chat about IUDs. She wanted to get one but wasn’t sure how they worked and had a lot of misconceptions about usage. From our discussion, she was able to make a decision that worked best for her body. For the women out there deciding what birth control method is right for them so they can have the ability to decide what they need, this article condenses our discussion to a few key questions! Keep reading to find out if an IUD is right for you.
How do they work?
There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper. Only one brand of copper IUDs is on the market in the US: Paragard. IUDs that work hormonally include Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. The copper IUD is a piece of copper which repels sperm to prevent insemination. The form of birth control hormone IUDs work similarily against sperm by thickening the mucus of the cervix to prevent sperm movement. Hormonal IUDs may also stop the release of an egg altogether depending on your body. Unlike the pill, hormonal IUDs release only the hormone progestin locally, so other side effects associated with birth control hormone treatments are often minimized.
What type should I choose?
This is really up to your own needs and wants! Like other forms of birth control, different IUDs can be multipurpose. For example, the hormonal IUD Mirena is sometimes recommended for women with heavy bleeding or endometriosis. But IUDs that use birth control hormones can also increase risks of blood clotting or stop bleeding altogether; if you’re a worrywart about this as a possible pregnancy scare, maybe a copper IUD might be better! A copper IUD can increase risk of anemia, so for women already prone to low blood pressure, it’s important to ask your doctor or gynecologist more before making a decision regarding the different IUDs.
Does getting an IUD hurt?
Feeling cramping or pain when the IUD is first inserted is common. Using a speculum, the procedure is relatively similar to a pap smear and takes about 15 minutes. After, some women have reported increased cramping and pain during their periods for a few months after the procedure. There is a risk of expulsion of the IUD from the uterus, but it is relatively low, as is a possible perforation of the uterus. If you’re considering getting an IUD, ask a friend about their level of pain, or you can consult with your physician as to if you can use a local anesthetic. Overall, getting an IUD is very safe, but make sure you consult with a licensed professional about the procedure.
Is it weird to get an IUD?
Absolutely not! What’s right for your body and your life is never weird. One reason that IUDs are not as popular as other birth control methods is that older generations remember a series of issues linked to IUDs in the 1970s, where a faulty IUD caused uterine perforations and several deaths. So are IUDs safe today? Different IUDs now exist in the market, which is regulated and very safe with no documented issues, but some distrust still exists. But usage rates are on the rise across the globe. According to a study in the early 2000s by the Guttmacher Institute, while usage rates are low in the US, the IUD is a popular method in countries like Norway and Sweden.
Can I afford an IUD?
Are IUDs safe for your budget? Like so many other forms of birth control and health care procedures, this depends on your insurance and your state. In addition to the procedure itself, consider the cost of appointments, consultations, and follow-ups, which can change your budget. But under the ACA, some types of IUDs have to be covered by health insurance! While an IUD procedure could be up to 1,300 US dollars, you should compare this to the cost of other types of birth control--because IUDs last so long, they may save you money and time in the end!
IUDs are one of the most interesting forms of birth control on the market. As a zero-hassle, long term preventative measure, they have a lot of positives that can allow you the freedom to live your life as you want! Different IUDs may be better for you, and the answer to the question “are IUDs safe?” is often a case by case basis. As you make your decision regarding getting an IUD, remember to put your needs first, and that you don’t need to feel any shame or stigma around taking care of your own body!