IUDs- What you need to know!

IUD stands for intrauterine device. They are small plastic “t” shaped devices that are inserted by a doctor or health care provider into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Different types of IUDs last for different lengths of time (from 3 years up to 12 years) but you can always have it removed sooner by a doctor or health care provider.

Want to know more? Here’s some answers to questions you may have about IUDs!

How do IUDs work?

All types of IUDs change the environment in the uterus and make it harder for sperm to reach an egg. IUDs are inserted inside the uterus by a doctor or health care provider during a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes. One type of IUD, the ParaGuard, has no hormones in it and is wrapped in copper. The other types of IUDs (Mirena, Sykla, Liletta, and Kyleena) have a small amount of hormones in them. IUDs also have a string attached to them that will come through the cervix and stay in the vagina. Sometimes doctors will ask you to check for your strings once a month.

How effective are IUDs?

All types of IUDs are over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy once they are inserted until they are removed or until they reach the length of time they are designed to last. Think of it like an expiration date. If someone has an IUD for as long as it lasts, they should have it removed by a doctor or healthcare provider. Then they can choose to get another IUD or find a different method of birth control. But remember, IUDs do NOT protect against STDs. Using a condom with an IUD will help protect against STDs and pregnancy. You can find free condoms near you!

How long do IUDs last?

IUDs can last from 3 to 12 years depending on which one you choose. Paraguard, or the copper IUD, last the longest, for 12 years. Mirena and Kyleena work for 5 years, and Skyla and Liletta work for up to 3 years. Doctors may tell you that you can keep the IUD in for longer and that’s ok! IUDs work for many years but that does not mean you are stuck with them. They can be removed at any time!

What are the pros of using an IUD?

  • IUDs are safe, effective, and long lasting!
  • Once an IUD is inserted, you do not have to worry about it.
  • Paraguard (or copper IUD) has no hormones in it.
  • The hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Skyla, and Liletta) may give you shorter, lighter periods or no periods at all.
  • IUDs are very private. You don’t have to worry about storing them somewhere or carrying them with you. You also don’t have to tell anyone if you have one, unless you want to!

What are the cons of an IUD?

  • IUDs do not protect against STDs
  • Paraguard, the copper IUD, may cause some women to have heavier periods with more cramping. For some women, this might get better over time.
  • Bleeding with an IUD can be unpredictable. Women may not get a period which could be a good thing or a bad thing.

How do I get an IUD?

IUDs are easy to get, but they must be inserted by a doctor or health care provider. Find a clinic near you! Many clinics require an appointment to get an IUD so make sure you check first. And IUDs are available for free!

Want to learn more about the IUD? Other birth control options? Visit TeenSource!

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This blog was reposted from Teensource.org, a project of Essential Access Health. TeenSource.org is an online hub for comprehensive and teen-friendly information on birth control, STDs, relationships and teen’s rights to accessing sensitive services. The site features youth-developed blogs and videos, a clinic finder, a Condom Access Project and links to TeenSource social media where youth can stay updated on relevant sexual and reproductive health information and news. 

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