Safe Sex 101: What to Know About the IUD

Apicha Community Health Center Oct 09, 2018  

Apicha CHC - iStock

Birth control is how you can prevent pregnancy if you are sexually active, making it a great way to practice safe sex. However, birth control isn't limited to one simple pill or a condom. There are many different forms of birth control options for you to choose from.

While options are great, they can also be overwhelming -- especially when a lot of information is thrown at you. Birth control is part of having sex safe, and in this blog, we're going to explain the IUD, and whether they're right for you.

IUD (Intrauterine Device)

This birth control method is potentially the most invasive, but also the longest lasting. An intrauterine device is shaped like a "T" and inserted into the individual's uterus by a doctor.  IUDs come in two forms, hormonal or copper, and are made by several different companies.

The hormonal IUD uses progestin to prevent ovulation and thicken the mucus in the cervix, keeping sperm from being able to access eggs. Hormonal IUDs can be used to prevent pregnancies for anywhere from 3-10 years, depending on the brand.

Apicha CHC - iStockThe copper IUD is one of the few birth control methods on the market that doesn't use hormones to prevent pregnancies. Instead, the copper in the device creates a poor environment for sperm, meaning that they can't access eggs for fertilization. Copper IUDs can be in place for up to 12 years.

Both types of IUDs are up to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancies, and like the implant, leave little room for mistakes. In fact, in emergency situations, the copper IUD can be used as a contraceptive after unprotected sex. As long as the IUD is inserted within about 5 days of the individual having had unprotected sex, a pregnancy may be prevented.

However, this form of emergency contraceptive isn't the most reliable, since a doctor would have to be available to insert the device within the small time frame. A safer method would be the morning-after pill, which can be purchased at many drugstores and pharmacies.

In many cases, hormonal IUDs can make individuals' periods lighter and less frequent, sometimes disappearing completely while the device was in place. Copper IUDs lack the hormones that impact menstruation cycles, and some individuals found that bleeding was heavier and cramps were more painful during their periods for the first 3-6 months that the device was in place.

While an IUD can last anywhere from 3-12 years, it can be taken out by a doctor at any time if you change your mind. After it's taken out, you can get pregnant almost immediately without having to wait for the hormones to leave your system (Planned Parenthood).

Common side effects of IUDs can be found here.

How Apicha CHC can help you

Birth control is an important part of women's health, but it's also a big decision, as you need to make sure you're getting the right birth control method for you. 

If you have any additional questions about birth control methods or are interested in getting birth control, request an appointment with Apicha Community Health Center. Our competent, caring, and non-judgemental providers will help you make sure you're getting the best birth control method for you. We also offer many other women's health services, which you can learn more about here.


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