Intrauterine Device (IUDs)
IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are small, T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are many benefits to IUDs, such as they can be effective for between two and 12 years. However, they don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections or diseases (STIs or STDs). IUDs available today are extremely safe and one of the best birth control options available.
Things to Consider
If you are considering getting an IUD, your gynecologist will consult with you to find the best type of IUD, hormonal or non-hormonal. They will also discuss other considerations, such as if you have any allergies and if you would like a local anesthesia to reduce discomfort.
Inserting the IUD
During this short procedure, the gynecologist opens the walls of the vagina with a speculum, and cleans the cervix and vaginal area. If you are having local anesthesia, your gynecologist will put it into the cervical canal at this time.
Your gynecologist will then use an instrument to help stabilize the cervix and another instrument called a uterine sound to determine the length of the cervix. After removing the uterine sound, the gynecologist will insert the IUD using a tube.
The IUD has strings attached that your gynecologist will cut so only 1 to 2 inches hang out of the cervix. Your gynecologist will tell you how to feel for the strings so you can ensure the IUD is in place.
After Your Procedure
Although you should feel well enough to go home and resume normal activities, you may want to arrange for somebody to drive you home, and you may also want to rest for a few hours after the procedure.
Before you go home, your gynecologist will schedule a follow-up appointment for you after your first period. At this time, you may also have the strings cut shorter if your partner can feel them during sexual intercourse. After this visit, regular IUD checkups can be done at the same time as your routine gynecological exam. For the first few days, make sure to feel for the IUD strings and check for them between periods as well to make sure that it remains in place.
Within the first day or two after an IUD insertion, you may experience cramping. For some women, this can last longer, as the body adjusts. Although extremely rare, it is possible for an IUD to fall out of place, even when properly placed by your gynecologist.
Removing the IUD
An IUD can be removed at any time, such as if you decide you want to try to become pregnant. Removing an IUD is a simple procedure that can be performed in the gynecologist’s office. To remove it, the gynecologist will use an instrument to grasp and pull the threads. In most cases, this will cause the arms of the device to collapse upward, and the IUD will slide out easily.