What Is an IUD
“IUD” stands for “intrauterine device.” Shaped like a “T” and a bit bigger than a quarter, an IUD fits inside your uterus. It prevents pregnancy by stopping sperm from reaching and fertilizing eggs.
How effective are IUDs?
If you use an IUD correctly, your chance of getting pregnant is less than 1%.
What are the benefits of IUDs?
- They last a long time.
- They’re mostly hassle-free. Once you have one inserted, you don’t have to think about it, and neither does your partner.
- It’s one cost, upfront.
- They’re safe to use if you’re breastfeeding.
Who can use them?
Most healthy women can use an IUD. They’re especially suited to women with one partner and at low risk of contracting an STD. IUDs don’t protect against STDs. You shouldn’t use one if:
- You have an STD or had a recent pelvic infection.
- You’re pregnant.
- You have cancer of the cervix or uterus.
- You have unexplained vaginal bleeding.
You can’t use the copper IUD if you have an allergy to copper or have Wilson’s disease, which causes your body hold too much copper.
Will my periods change?
With hormonal IUDs, many women have fewer cramps. For the first few months, some women have irregular spotting. Eventually, most women have light periods or no period at all. Pregnancies rarely happen with IUDs, but if not having a period will make you constantly worry that you’re pregnant, you may want to consider the copper IUD instead.
Can my partner feel it?
Your partner shouldn’t be able to feel anything, but if they do, it will only be minor contact with the strings of the IUD. This shouldn’t cause any discomfort. The strings soften the longer you have the IUD and can be trimmed shorter.
Are there side effects?
IUDs are safe. Some women do have side effects, but most are mild. Serious problems with them are rare.
Some women feel lightheaded right after their doctor inserts the IUD, but the feeling should pass after a few minutes. In the first few days after insertion, you can expect to have period-like cramps.
You’re very unlikely to get pregnant while you have an IUD. But if it happens, it raises your risk for miscarriage, infection, and early labor and delivery. It also puts you at risk for an ectopic pregnancy, when a fertilized egg implants outside of your uterus. Let your doctor know if you think you might be pregnant or if you have belly pain or vaginal bleeding.