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Should You Use the Intrauterine Device (IUD)?

Learn about the pros and cons of the two various IUD methods of birth control.

By
Sanaz Majd, MD,
April 27, 2011

Page 1 of 2

Birth control is often a hot topic of conversation in my clinic.  There are so many options out there for women today, which is great news, but as a result it can sometimes be very challenging and difficult to make a decision.

Should You Use the Intrauterine Device (IUD)?

I find more and more women interested in longer termed birth control methods, such as the intrauterine device (IUD).  These options are great for those who:

  • can’t seem to remember to take a pill every day

  • are in a monogamous relationship and just don’t want to think about birth control on a daily basis

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What Is an IUD?

The IUD is a soft flexible “T-shaped” device that is inserted by a trained clinical provider in a five to ten minute office procedure.  It is similar to a pap smear, where a speculum is inserted, however, different in that the IUD is inserted past the cervix and into the uterus.  It may cause some mild to moderate pelvic cramping, similar to period cramps, and that is why many providers will advise you to take some ibuprofen one hour prior to your procedure (as long as you don’t have any contraindications to taking it). 

The IUD has “strings” that dangle from the uterus into the vagina, and you may be able to feel these strings with your  fingers. As long as you make sure that you don’t pull on the strings (because that is how the IUD is removed), you can self-check for the presence of the IUD once a month.  If the strings are not there, use a back up method and call your doctor right away.

Does an IUD Cause Any Symptoms?

It is preferable to have the procedure done while you are on your period in order to assure that you aren’t pregnant, and you will be given a pregnancy test on the same day of the procedure just to make sure.

You may experience pelvic and abdominal cramps up to one or two weeks afterwards, for which ibuprofen is typically prescribed. 

Which IUD Should You Get?

There are two types of intrauterine devices, and the pros and cons are quite different.  If you are contemplating getting the IUD, make sure you have the right information about both types so that you can make an informed decision.

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