Women have more birth control options than ever before. Among those, the IUD has increased in popularity five times over the last decade, according to the CDC. And with good reason.
IUDs are small, flexible, T-shaped devices that are placed inside the uterus by your gynecologist. Once inserted they block sperm from traveling through the uterus. However, that’s not their primary mechanism of action. They principally prevent pregnancy by releasing progesterone or copper.
IUDs that use progesterone provide contraception by thickening mucus in the cervix to inhibit sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. They also partially suppress ovulation.
Copper IUDs work a little differently. The copper acts as a sort of spermicide. Because sperm don’t like copper, it makes it nearly impossible for any to reach an egg.
IUDs are effective
IUDs and other long-acting reversible contraceptive options are as much as 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy than birth control pills, the birth control patch, or the vaginal ring, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Unintended pregnancy is a major problem in the United States: As many as half of all pregnancies are unplanned.
IUDs have a success rate greater than 99%. That means that for every 100 women who use the IUD for one year, fewer than one will get pregnant.
The IUD’s success rate is higher than most other types of birth control including the pill (91% effective over the course of one year of use), the vaginal ring (91% effective), the diaphragm (88% effective), the male condom (82% effective), and the female condom (79% effective.)
In fact, along with implants and sterilization, IUDs are considered the most effective form of birth control.
IUDs simplify birth control
One reason for the higher effectiveness of the IUD over other forms of birth control is that you don’t have to remember to use it each day (like the pill) or whenever you have sex (like condoms and diaphragms).
Once your IUD is inserted, you don’t have to worry about birth control again for the life of the IUD.
However, IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections. So, even if you have an IUD, you should use condoms to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections if you are at risk of exposure.
IUDs are long-lasting
IUDs can protect you from unintended pregnancy for 3-10 years. The number of years of protection varies based on the type and brand of IUD you choose.
IUDs are easily inserted
Once the type of IUD that’s best for you is decided, your doctor will insert it in a simple office visit that takes less than five minutes. Using a speculum, he or she places the IUD into your uterus via the opening of your cervix.
You may feel a twinge of pain or cramping while having your IUD inserted, but this pain typically lasts only a minute or two.
Occasionally women have cramping or backaches after having an IUD inserted. You can treat this discomfort with ibuprofen or other NSAIDs.
After having your IUD inserted, you can start having sex as soon as you’d like. There’s no need to wait.
IUDs offer reversible birth control
Although IUDs offer protection for years, if you decide to get pregnant, you can simply have it removed. The removal procedure is as simple as insertion. There’s no need to wait to start trying to conceive.
Progesterone IUDs can lead to lighter periods
Many women who have progesterone IUDs experience significantly lighter periods, and 20% stop getting periods altogether while they have an IUD. If you’ve suffered from menstrual cramping, you may find that your cramps lessen after having a progesterone IUD inserted.
To learn more about the IUD or any form of birth control, call or book an appointment online with Park Avenue Women’s Center on the Upper East Side. Our team is committed to providing the highest quality healthcare for women of all ages.