About two-thirds of American women use some type of contraceptive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet, statistics show that about 14% of those women use an intrauterine device or IUD, despite the fact that these devices are simple, “automatic,” and more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
One reason why so few women turn to IUDs could be because the devices are not as well understood as other methods, such as birth control pills or diaphragms. At his practice in Newburgh, Indiana, which serves the Evansville area, Paul W. Morrison, M.D., helps women weigh the pros and cons of IUDs, so each woman can make an informed choice about her birth control method.
Here’s what he wants you to know about IUDs and how to decide if an IUD may be the most appropriate choice for your lifestyle and health.
An IUD is a T-shaped device that Dr. Morrison inserts into your uterus during a pelvic exam. Two long strings are attached to the IUD and aid in removal later on.
There are two types of IUDs: hormone IUDs and copper IUDs.
Hormonal IUDs release a steady stream of hormones to prevent you from getting pregnant. These IUDs need to be replaced every 3-7 years, depending on the brand.
Copper IUDs don’t use hormones. Instead, the copper material creates an environment that’s “unfriendly” to sperm, destroying sperm before they have a chance to fertilize the egg. These IUDs typically can remain in place for 10-12 years before they need to be replaced.
Once an IUD is in place, it remains effective until you decide to take it out. Rarely, an IUD may fall out on its own, which means you could become pregnant. Before having sex, it’s a good idea to simply feel for the wire ends (without pulling on them) to ensure the IUD is still in place.
Understanding the pros and cons of IUDs is an important part of deciding whether this method is right for you.
As noted earlier, one of the biggest benefits of IUDs is their effectiveness. Studies show IUDs prevent pregnancy more than 99% of the time, compared to birth control pills that prevent pregnancy 91-94% of the time. That means that, on average, for every 100 women using these methods, 6-9 women who take the pill will become pregnant compared with less than 1 woman using an IUD.
The next benefit is convenience. With many contraceptives, including pills and diaphragms, you must remember to use your method on a regular basis — either daily or every time you have sex. Diaphragms also need to be coupled with a spermicide product to be effective, adding one more (potentially messy) step.
With an IUD, once the device is in place, you don’t need to think about contraception again until it’s time to replace the device. In fact, IUDs are even more convenient than contraceptive implants that go in the arm, which usually need to be replaced more frequently.
Because they’re implanted right in your uterus, hormonal IUDs are able to dispense much smaller doses of hormones since the hormones are delivered directly where they’re needed, without going through the bloodstream or digestive tract. Copper IUDs don’t use any hormones, allowing women to have effective birth control without using progestin.
Intrauterine devices can be removed whenever you decide you’re ready to start — or add to — a family. Unlike some methods that require a waiting period before conceiving, there’s no waiting time with an IUD, giving you the greatest flexibility for family planning
Intrauterine devices are great at preventing pregnancy, but they don’t offer any protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Neither do birth control pills, arm implants, contraceptive shots, or diaphragms. The best way to prevent contracting STDs when using any of these methods is to also use a condom every time you have intercourse.
While IUDs can be a great choice for many women, they’re not appropriate for everyone. For instance, women with unusual uterine anatomy or frequent pelvic infections typically are not good candidates. Dr. Morrison determines if an IUD is a good option during your office exam.
It’s pretty obvious, but the bottom line is this: Birth control only works when you use it, and the best birth control is the method you’re most likely to use. Because he offers a wide array of contraceptive options, Dr. Morrison is able to help every woman find the method that’s most comfortable and most convenient for her lifestyle and goals.
To learn more about IUDs or other forms of birth control, call 812-490-5200 or book an appointment online with the practice of Paul W. Morrison, M.D., today.