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Facts About...


What is it?

An intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS) is a long term method of birth control available by prescription that is used to prevent pregnancy. The IUD/IUS is a T- shaped device that is inserted by a health care provider into the uterus through the vagina and cervix. The IUD is made of soft plastic and copper. To prevent pregnancy, the copper ions released by the IUD, stop the movement of sperm and prevent the egg from being fertilized. The IUS is made of soft plastic, and contains a small amount of the hormone progestin. The IUS slowly releases progestin preventing the lining of the uterus from implanting an egg. It also changes the mucous in the cervix, making it difficult for sperm to enter the uterus.

How effective is it?

When using the IUS or copper IUD, less than 1 woman out of 100 becomes pregnant.

What are the side effects?

The copper IUD may cause irregular and/or heavy periods. These side effects usually improve after the first year of use. The hormonal IUS may cause bleeding or spotting which usually improves within the first 3 months of use.

What are the benefits?

The IUD/IUS is effective for 3-10 years depending on the type. The IUD can be used for emergency contraception if inserted within 5 days of unprotected sexual intercourse. It is hormonal free and may provide some protection against endometrial cancer. The IUS reduces menstrual bleeding. 20-30% of women using the IUS will stop having their periods within one year. There is a quick return to fertility when the IUD/IUS is removed even after long term use.

Women who have a copper allergy should not use the copper-based IUD. The IUD or IUS is not recommended for those women at high risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), with a history of pelvic infections, unexplained abnormal vaginal bleeding or certain types of cancer.

You Should Know...

February 19, 2016