The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the intrauterine device (IUD) one of the safest and most effective reversible contraceptives today . The IUD is one of the most used contraceptive methods in the world.. types of iud birth control
With a high rate of contraceptive effectiveness, low rates of side effects and a lower price than other methods – considering that they last 5 to 10 years – IUDs, whether hormonal or non-hormonal (copper) are great contraceptive methods.
Therefore, in this article, we will inform and clarify the main doubts about IUDs for those who are thinking about using the method. We remind you that the information contained herein is not a substitute for individualized advice from your gynecologist.
What is an IUD? types of iud birth control
The IUD is a small and flexible intrauterine device that must be inserted by the doctor into the uterine cavity, being a long-term and reversible contraceptive method . types of iud birth control
There are two main types: the non-hormonal IUD , also known as a copper or silver IUD , and the hormonal IUD , which contains a hormone derived from progesterone (levonorgestrel).
The intrauterine device ( IUD , according to its acronym) is one of the oldest contraceptive methods but even today it is still one of the most effective . Its process is as simple as it is broad, since it can be used by women of any age and social group, given that its market value is relatively low. types of iud birth control
It acts once the T-shaped plastic device is installed in the uterus , where it remains preventing the possibility of conception. It is important to distinguish that although it prevents pregnancy, it does not prevent sexually transmitted venereal diseases like other methods do. types of iud birth control
It is the more durable of the two types of IUD, as it has a copper band that covers the plastic . It has an implantation period that can reach ten years, although in most cases it is withdrawn before the expiration of the term for prevention, and is replaced by a new one.
However, the main problem that a woman with a copper IUD will have to deal with is that it often causes pain during menstruation, in addition to making it longer and messier . Another problem that it entails is that it can lead to blood loss outside the menstrual period, and that its carrier is more prone to vaginal-type infections. types of iud birth control
The effectiveness is always the same, that is, it does not decrease progressively over time as long as the times and the medical precepts for control and prevention are respected. It is a reversible device, which can be removed once installed and the woman will regain the chances of conception .
Hormonal intrauterine device
It is more modern than the copper IUD, and periodically releases small amounts of a hormone called levonorgestrel that prevents pregnancy . This hormone is the one usually contained in birth control pills, and it works in the same way as the body’s natural hormones would.
It has the same effectiveness as the copper intrauterine device, although its implantation, because it is made of plastic – a less durable material – does not extend beyond five years . As a point in favor of the hormonal IUD, it should be noted that it is less likely to generate vaginal infections , and that it can even collaborate in the regulation of menstruation and make it a less painful natural hormonal process of the body . Like the previous type, it does not require daily monitoring, but only periodic checks. types of iud birth control
What are the indications for IUD use?
All types of IUDs work as excellent birth control methods . The hormonal IUD can also be used to treat excessive menstrual bleeding, menstrual cramps, and to protect the endometrium – the inner lining layer of the uterus – during menopausal hormone therapy . types of iud birth control
IUDs can be used in patients of all age groups, even if they have not yet had children . After delivery, whether normal or cesarean, the IUD is also a great option for contraception, and can be inserted after 40 days of the baby’s birth .
How effective is it? types of iud birth control
The IUD is among the most effective contraceptives currently available , being safer to prevent pregnancy than oral contraceptives (pills), injectables, among others . However, it should be remembered that all methods may fail.
A major advantage of IUDs over other methods is that their effectiveness does not depend on whether the patient remembers daily to take a pill or the date of the next injection.
How does the IUD work?
Non-hormonal IUDs – copper and silver – work by preventing sperm motility in the female genital tract.
The hormonal IUD, in addition to affecting sperm motility, also causes thickening of the normal cervical mucus and transient atrophy of the inner lining of the uterus, mechanisms that complement its contraceptive action. types of iud birth control
Is the insertion or removal procedure painful? types of iud birth control
In general, the IUD insertion procedure is very well tolerated, taking a few minutes , and removal is even simpler and faster. If the patient wishes, it is possible to remove an expired device and place a new one in the same procedure .
At Clínica CEU Diagnósticos , all IUD insertion or removal procedures take place under ultrasound monitoring , that is, the doctor follows the path of the IUD until it is properly positioned. This reduces the patient’s discomfort and, above all, makes the procedure safer , with virtually no risk of uterine perforation.
At the time of insertion, there is usually a sensation of colic, usually mild, which may persist for the first few days, during the adaptation period. In case of discomfort, the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatories is suggested, as always instructed in writing after the procedure.
Can I expel the IUD after insertion?
Yes, it is possible, although rare, especially when the insertion is performed under ultrasound monitoring.
Symptoms of partial or complete expulsion of any IUD can include bleeding, sudden increase in menstrual flow, or pain. The vast majority of expulsions occur within the first few months of use, and expulsion after the first year is very rare.
It is suggested that the device be monitored through routine gynecological consultation and annual ultrasound.
What are the side effects of this method? types of iud birth control
All medical treatments can cause side effects, but they occur with varying frequency and intensity among patients.
The non-hormonal IUD – copper or silver – often increases the amount of menstrual bleeding. More frequent cramps may also occur.
The hormonal IUD can cause changes in menstrual bleeding pattern, such as spotting (slight, dark bleeding), irregular bleeding or amenorrhea (interruption of menstruation), headache, breast pain, and increased oiliness of the skin.
Most side effects are mild to moderate in intensity, and are usually temporary , lasting between 3-6 months after placement, in what we call the adjustment period.
Both IUDs do not increase the risk of thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. types of iud birth control
How long should I wait to have intercourse after insertion?
It is recommended to wait seven days after insertion before having sex. types of iud birth control
Does the IUD protect against sexually transmitted diseases? types of iud birth control
Not. The IUD does not provide protection against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The only methods that offer protection against STIs are barrier methods – male or female condoms.
What to do when I want to remove the device?
The IUD can easily be removed at any time by a doctor, and removal is usually a quick and painless procedure. Return to normal fertility occurs quickly after device removal.
How long can I use the IUD? types of iud birth control
Non-hormonal IUDs offer pregnancy protection for periods of 3 to 10 years , depending on the model chosen. The hormonal IUD has a contraceptive effect for 5 years.
Can I breastfeed during this period?
Yup. The IUD does not have any kind of harmful effect on the baby’s growth or development, nor does it change the quantity or quality of breast milk. types of iud birth control
When is this method not indicated?
Your doctor is the most appropriate person to evaluate each case and check if there are any contraindications to the use of the IUD. In general, the device should not be used in the presence of any of the conditions described below :
- Confirmed or suspected pregnancy ;
- Genital tract infection;
- Endometrial or cervical cancer confirmed or suspected;
- Progesterone-dependent tumors (in the case of hormonal);
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding not investigated;
- Abnormalities or deformations of the uterine cavity;
- Liver disease or tumor ;
- Hypersensitivity to the drug or to any constituent of the product. types of iud birth control
Can I use a menstrual cup or tampon?
Yes, it is okay to use a tampon or menstrual cup together with the IUD , as they are located in different places on the body. The vacuum formed by the collector is not enough to displace or expel the device that is inside the uterus and the patient can follow her routine normally during this period.