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IUD: Long-Term Birth Control

IUD, also known as a coil, stands for intrauterine device. - "intra" meaning within, and "uterine" meaning of the uterus. An IUD is about 1.5 inches long and it's inserted into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. They are 99% effective.

There are 2 types of IUDs, ones made out of metal, and ones that release hormones similar to those found in oral contraceptives (the Pill.) Most of the metal IUDs have a plastic T-shaped frame that is wrapped with copper. The copper is believed to have spermicidal effects, which is one reason why it works. You can wear this one for up to 10 years.

IUD's that release hormones are also T-shaped, but they are made out of plastic. The hormones make your cervical fluid thick and tacky, making it difficult for sperm to swim in, so they never make it to the egg, so therefore they can't fertilize it. You can wear this one for up to 5 years.

Both kinds of IUDs have little plastic strings attached at the bottom that hangs down past the cervix. The string is not visible and it won't cause any problems during intercourse. The string is a safety check so you can check to make sure your IUD is still in place.

An IUD has to be fitted inside and removed from the uterus by a doctor or nurse practitioner. IUDs don't stop you from ovulating, so you still get your period, but your flow may become shorter or lighter, or may even stop altogether. Some women complain that their periods are irregular when using an IUD as birth control.

Want to know how they work? Then

When something foreign is inside your uterus, your body produces white blood cells, or leukocytes to defend itself. These white blood cells attack any sperm or eggs that may find their way into your uterus. Even if an egg does get fertilized, the white blood cells will attack it. For this reason, people who are against abortion, believing that life begins at conception, are against the IUD.

Fit's Tips: An IUD is great if you are looking for hassle-free birth control. In no way does it prevent against STDs, so that's why it's great to use if you are in a long-term relationship with someone you know is disease-free. That is why they are most often recommended for women who are married and done having children. Ask your doctor to discuss if an IUD may be right for you.

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Join The Conversation
pink4444 pink4444 7 years
Are there as many hormonal side effects with the IUD as with birth control pills?
colormesticky colormesticky 8 years
I'm going to the doctor next month to talk to her about switching from the ring to an IUD. I'm still on the fence about it though, so we'll see. I'm pretty well over the ring. Thanks for posting this!
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
Thanks so much for the update, Fit. On the surface, the Ring seems almost like the "over the counter" hormone-releasing IUD, in that you put it in yourself without going to the doctor and all that. Now I know the difference, so thanks!
Fitness Fitness 8 years
kscincotta - Check out this post I wrote about the Nuvaring. It's different than the IUD because you can insert and remove it yourself. It only goes into your vagina, and the IUD goes all the way up into your uterus (that's why a doctor needs to insert it). The Nuvaring releases hormones that stop you from ovulating. When you use a metal IUD, you still ovulate. When you use the hormone releasing IUD, it may or may not stop you from ovulating, because the hormone level is 1/4 of what you'd get if you were taking the Pill, so it's most likely not enough to stop your ovary from releasing eggs. I hope that helps explain the difference.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
I'm curious how different the ring is from the plastic, hormone releasing IUD. I mean, they both get stuck up there (although the IUD is much higher), and release hormones. Granted, you have to change the ring every month, but it sounds like it would have a lot of similar effects. The only difference is that the ring just isn't as "permanent" of a choice, right?
godogblog godogblog 8 years
My mom got pregnant with my brother on it 35 years ago. I would hope improvements have been made since.
SeptemberLights SeptemberLights 8 years
my boss got pregnant 3 times with the IUD and had miscarriages, she also got an infection and her body started rejecting it. Doesnt sound fun, i will stick with the ring!
smart-blonde smart-blonde 8 years
I asked my former GP about an IUD, because I neither have nor want children and a friend of mine loved hers, but he refused to give me one. He said it had to do with the size of the cervix in women who have had children vs. women who haven't. And then I went ahead and just got my tubes tied, so no more worries. Yay!
smart-blonde smart-blonde 8 years
I asked my former GP about an IUD, because I neither have nor want children and a friend of mine loved hers, but he refused to give me one. He said it had to do with the size of the cervix in women who have had children vs. women who haven't. And then I went ahead and just got my tubes tied, so no more worries. Yay!
Fitness Fitness 8 years
OMG - that's awful! Yeah, it's not quite 100% effective. It doesn't prevent you from ovulating, so it's possible to get pregnant (1% chance).
nannychica nannychica 8 years
My cousin got one about 2 years ago and in November she found out she was pregnant. I talked to a friend of mine who is a nurse and she said that's the first she'd heard of someone getting pregnant with an IUD in. Obviously she had to get it removed (very carefully) as soon as she found out she was pregnant.
daiseechain daiseechain 8 years
After having my baby, I asked my doc about getting one, and he recomended against it, because we still want to have more kids. He said there is a risk of infertility. Just wanted to put that out there.
scratch5 scratch5 8 years
I have one and while saying I love it might be a bit of an exaggeration it is so great to not have to worry about birth control. I've had all the children I plan on having so this option was right for me. All that said, I wooild love my husband to get the snip and take care of the issue on his end. Hope that is not too much info!
Girrly007 Girrly007 8 years
I went to have one put in, and it was so painful, I couldn't take it. They say that if you haven't had children yet, it can be extremely painful (that is an understatement!).
vrico2005 vrico2005 8 years
A friend of mine has one and she says its great! It bothered her for a few days at first but that went away... ---------------------------------------- It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are. Clive James
vrico2005 vrico2005 8 years
A friend of mine has one and she says its great! It bothered her for a few days at first but that went away...----------------------------------------It is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are.Clive James
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