IUD

An IUD (intrauterine device) is a tiny plastic T-shaped device, about ani nch long. It is inserted into the uterus and changes the environment to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Once inserted, the IUD can stay and remain effective for 3-12 years, depending on which kind is used. The main types of IUDs are copper IUDs (Paragard) and hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Lileetta, Skyla). The Paragard, Mirena, and Liletta can be used as emergency contraception if inserted within 5 days after unprotected sex.

Sometimes the hormones released by the hormonal IUDs change your period. How it changes is different for each person, but some have reported irregular bleeding, some spotting or light bleeding. These symptoms usually get better after the first 3-6 months.

Copper IUD (Paragard)

The copper IUD doesn’t have hormones. It’s wrapped in copper, which limits sperm function and survival.

How effective is it against pregnancy?
Prevents pregnancy over 99% of the time

How to use:

  • A health care provider places it in the uterus
  • Once inserted, it can be left in place for up to 12 years
  • It must be removed by a health care provider

Pros:

  • Easy to use, low effort (“get it and forget it”)
  • Can be used while breastfeeding
  • You can become pregnant right after it is removed

Cons:

  • May cause more cramps and heavier periods
  • May cause spotting between periods
  • Rarely, uterus can be injured during placement
  • Does not protect against HIV or other STIs – use a condom with this method
Hormonal IUD
(Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, Skyla)

Hormonal IUDs release small amounts of the hormone progestin in the uterus. These IUDs prevent pregnancy by thickening the mucus in the cervix (entrance to the uterus), which makes it harder for the sperm to get through. Progestin also thins the lining of the uterus, so the egg has a hard time attaching to the wall of the uterus. Hormonal IUDs also sometimes stop ovulation (release of an egg from the ovaries), which means there’s nothing for the sperm to fertilize.

How effective is it against pregnancy?
Prevents pregnancy over 99% of the time

How to use:

  • A health care provider places it in the uterus
  • Once inserted, it can be left in place for up to 3-5 years (depending on the IUD)
  • It must be removed by a health care provider

Pros:

  • Easy to use, low effort (“get it and forget it”)
  • May improve period cramps and bleeding
  • Can be used while breastfeeding
  • You can become pregnant right after it is removed

Cons:

  • May cause spotting, irregular periods, or no period at all
  • Rarely, uterus can be injured during placement
  • Does not protect against HIV or other STIs – use a condom with this method

 

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