Among birth control methods, the Intrauterine Device (IUD) is becoming more and more popular as time goes by.

If you and your partner don't plan on having a baby in the medium to long term, you may want to consider the IUD birth control as an alternative to other contraceptive procedures. You may have heard lots of stories about it being painful, because of the insertion process and the cramping that it can provoke, but the reality is that very few women suffer from these side effects. Its bad reputation should be reconsidered, since it has been proven to be a safe and effective long term contraception option with no possibility of misuse by the user.

The IUD is growing on women, as the statistics show; 5 times more women aged between 15 to 44 have the device than ten years ago. This is because of both a growing awareness, as well as improvements in the product design and effectiveness—yet another reason to reconsider the IUD’s bad rep. If you are curious about the IUD birth control method and want to know all the information about it, don't take your eyes off the screen.


The IUD, a powerful little T

Now that you know that the IUDs reputation is a bit unfounded, you should know exactly what it is. All IUDs are tiny T-shaped plastic devices that are placed into the uterus to keep you from an unwanted pregnancy. They remain inside the uterus until they are removed by the doctor, either when they are no longer effective, or when you decide that you want to try to get pregnant.


Hormonal or non-hormonal; that is the question

Another thing you should know about the IUD birth control is that there are actually two distinct varieties that work in different ways and are effective for different lengths of time. Here is some information about each kind:

  • 5 year hormonal IUD: this option uses the hormone progestin, one of the hormones commonly found in birth control pills. They make the mucus within the cervix so thick that an egg can’t be properly fertilised, so pregnancy isn’t a real possibility. Unlike some pills, however, the hormonal IUD doesn’t stop you from ovulating. You will probably still have periods, but they are typically lighter and shorter than before. It works immediately when you have it inserted, but it takes 5 – 7 days to stop having an effect after you remove it.

  • 10 year non-hormonal IUD: Instead of hormones, this IUD uses copper. The material is released very slowly, preventing pregnancy from start to finish—10 years later! This method is extremely effective because it works double-fold; by keeping the sperm out of the uterus, and also by making it impossible for the egg to attach itself to the uterine wall.


Forget about it!

Yes, that’s what you can do with your IUD! Unlike many other forms of contraception, you don’t have to remember to do anything before intercourse because it’s always working. You will have the device inserted by your doctor, who may give you some local anaesthetic because some women experience pain or discomfort during the procedure. Don’t worry too much about this though, because the pain is usually mild. You may have some cramps, or even spotting for a week or two after the insertion, but it should go away soon, and then you typically won’t even notice the IUD—unless you are looking for it! And you should check for it about once a month, just to make sure that it’s still in the right place. All you have to do is use one finger to reach into your vagina and feel for the small string at the end of the IUD. That’s it! The rest of the time you don’t have to worry about a thing (until it’s time for removal)!


Effective... but invasive

There are so many great things about both IUD varieties. First, it is just one simple procedure, which allows very little room for error. You can forget to take a pill, for example. With a hormonal IUD, only 1 in every 1,000 women will have an accidental pregnancy. And the copper is just behind it in terms of effectiveness, with 8 in every 1,000 women conceiving. This makes it more than 99% effective. Finally, most women are viable candidates for an IUD, with risks and negative side effects being extremely uncommon.

However, there are some negative points to consider. First, it is much more invasive than other forms of contraception, like the pill or condoms. Many women experience mild to moderate discomfort during insertion and for the first couple of weeks. Also, in some rare cases, the complications can be quite serious, such as puncturing of the uterus. Furthermore, it provides no protection against STIs or HIV, so it isn’t the safest option for women with more than one sexual partner.


A sound investment

Both types of IUD require a consultation with a doctor, as well as the insertion procedure. IUD can be quite expensive, but fortunately, almost all birth control is free in the UK. 

However, even if you end up having to pay quite a lot for an IUD, don’t let this scare you off. IUD is considered by many to be one of the most cost-effective types of birth control because the one-time payment can cover all of your contraception expenses for 5 or 10 years.


Now that you know more about the IUD birth control method, we hope that you can look past some of the negative stigma surrounding it and consider it as an option. You should remember that it is an extremely convenient and effective form of contraception that can work for most women who are not interested in having children anytime soon. If you aren’t sure whether or not the IUD is right for you, the best thing to do is have a conversation with your doctor, and also your partner. You have lots of choices for contraception, so explore them all!


Need help? Ask other mummies in CaptainMums' forum!


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