IUD Birth Control: Types, Effectiveness, Side-Effects, Pros & Cons

a woman holding IUD birth control

IUD birth control (the intrauterine device) is one of the most popular methods of contraception for women after 25-30 years. Its popularity is explained by the ease of use and high efficiency. Let’s get to know IUD birth control method better.

What Is IUD Birth Control?

The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small device made of flexible plastic or metal (mainly copper or silver) that is inserted into the uterine cavity to prevent the attachment of the fetal egg.

Modern IUD birth control is made of inert plastic, wrapped in the finest copper wire, which increases the efficiency and duration of use of the device. In addition, the IUD can contain silver, gold, and other additives (for example, propolis). Their purpose is to reduce the risk of developing inflammatory diseases of the uterus when using the IUD. At the same time, according to some reports, they also reduce the effectiveness of contraception. There are also hormonal-containing IUDs which we will discuss below.

The contraceptive effect of the IUD birth control is that the device complicates the movement of the sperm to the egg and, consequently, complicates its fertilization. In addition, the IUD birth control prevents the implantation of the fetal egg due to its accelerated intake from the fallopian tubes and the absence of a full secretion transformation of the endometrium.

IUD birth control work scheme

Mechanism of Action

Despite the fact that there are approximately 50 types of devices on the market, the principle of action is approximately the same – they prevent embryo implantation and its development in the uterus.

In addition, copper which is a part of some IUDs has an additional detrimental effect on spermatozoa and thus prevents the fertilization of the egg.

Keep in mind, that only the doctor can suggest a better for you IUD birth control and help to choose the right one taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient’s body.

Types of IUD Birth Control

IUD birth control is a small device that is inserted into the uterine cavity in order to prevent pregnancy due to mechanical influence. Due to this effect, the uterus contraction occurs. In this case, the egg quickly moves into the cavity and does not have the ability to go through all the stages of maturation and attach to the walls of the uterus. This excludes the possibility of pregnancy.

To date, there are many varieties of IUDs, differing in shape and size, rigidity and principle of action, as well as in materials they are made of.

Shape and Material

According to the shape, IUDs can be round, spiral, but most common are T-shaped which are made of a thin metal wire wrapped around an elastic rod. Modern IUD birth control is developed taking into account all the shortcomings of previous products used for contraception earlier. They are sufficiently reliable and easy to use. A nylon thread is attached to the bottom of the product. The ends of the thread are located in the vagina. If necessary, the doctor uses them for extraction of the IUD birth control.

Sometimes the shape of the uterus does not allow the use of the classic T-shaped model. In this case, a woman can choose a device in the form of a half-oval with small spines, which contribute to secure attachment inside the uterus.

iud birth control with spines

Modern intrauterine devices are medicamental: metal-containing and hormone-containing. One type of metal-containing devices contains copper in its structure. This metal, oxidizing, creates additional conditions for the egg not to join the wall of the uterus. This is often a T-shaped device. To date, the silver and gold IUDs are gaining popularity. These materials are antiseptics. They can interfere with inflammatory processes in the uterine cavity.

The last generation of the IUD birth control contains hormones. Today, these are progestin-containing devices. Every day, a small amount of the hormone gets into the woman’s blood and prevents the implantation of the egg. Hormone-containing devices can also be prescribed for therapeutic purposes. Therapeutic IUDs are designed for women suffering from heavy bleeding during menstruation. Other spirals are contraindicated to women with excessive menstruation.

The Benefits of Using IUD Birth Control Containing Copper:

  • No other contraceptive (except surgical sterilization) allows such a long period of protection. The average period of use of IUD birth control is 3-5 years;
  • IUD birth control is one of the cheapest methods of contraception;
  • This is a very reliable method. Its efficiency is around 97-98%;
  • Can be used for various therapeutic diseases, excluding diseases of the blood system;
  • In contrast to sterilization, IUD birth control is reversible. The ability to conceive is normally restored within 3 months after the IUD extraction.
  • However, this method of contraception has the largest number of contraindications and side-effects, which significantly limits the range of its use.

copper containing iud birth control

Side-Effects:

  • Long-term presence of a foreign body in the uterine cavity contributes to the onset of an inflammatory process (endometritis), which in combination with any STD gives very serious consequences. After the extraction of the IUD birth control changes are preserved in the inner layer of the uterus for a long time and may be the cause of a miscarriage and infertility.
  • Disturbance of the function of the fallopian tubes, induced by the foreign body leads to anti-peristaltic contractions. This is associated with an increase in the number of cases of ectopic pregnancy when using IUD birth control.
  • The long-term presence of IUD in the cervical canal promotes the spread of the vaginal microflora with the development of the infectious process in the mucous membrane of the cervix and the formation of cervical polyps. Especially unfavorable is the combination of IUDs with cervical erosion.
  • With regular sex life, women who use the IUD still periodically have a conception followed by a spontaneous abortion during the first week of its development. Such spontaneous mini-abortions have an erased clinical picture, which is manifested by abundant, irregular, and painful periods.
  • The use of the IUD birth control is associated with surgical manipulation in the uterine cavity during the insertion and extraction of the device.
  • Spontaneous fall out of the IUD is possible.
  • Even if in spite of using IUD birth control a woman gets pregnant, then it is not always possible to save the baby, as the number of spontaneous miscarriages increases.

Contraindications to the Use of Copper IUD Birth Control:

  • allergy to copper;
  • various inflammatory diseases of the genital organs;
  • the presence or risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases;
  • postpartum trauma, as well as other diseases of the cervix (erosion, dysplasia, polyps);
  • benign and malignant tumors of the genital organs;
  • endometriosis, myoma, hyperplasia, endometrium;
  • malformations of the uterus;
  • disorders of the menstrual cycle, profuse or painful menstruation;
  • anemia and disorders of the coagulation blood system.

copper iud birth control

If we take into account that gynecologists do not recommend the use of the IUD for nulliparous women, the circle of patients who can safely use IUD birth control is very limited.

Pros of Hormone-Containing IUD Birth Control

  • Works up to 5 years
  • Efficiency is up to 98%
  • It is possible to use in case of heavy, painful menstruation, while the device has a curative effect – menstruation becomes meager and painless.
  • Does not increase the number of ectopic pregnancies and inflammatory diseases.
  • It can be used for medical purposes in women with fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, premenstrual syndrome.
  • Reversible method – the ability to conceive is restored within a year after the extraction of the IUD.

Cons

  • Quite a high price
  • Necessity of manipulation in the uterine cavity
  • The presence of side-effects associated with gestagens (depression, headache, a slight change in body weight, engorgement of the mammary glands). Usually, these phenomena occur after 3-6 months from the installation of the device.
  • In some women, there is a complete cessation of menstruation during the first year of use. In the future the cycle restores. There can also appear non-cyclic discharge.

Contraindications

  • Acute chronic inflammatory diseases of genital organs or their exacerbation
  • Malignant tumors of the uterus or cervix
  • Uterine bleeding from the genital tract of unknown etiology
  • Anomalies of the development of the uterus, interfering with the introduction of IUD
  • Acute hepatitis
  • Acute thrombophlebitis or thromboembolic disorders

a hand holding iud birth control

Complications After Using IUD Birth Control:

  • Bleeding. While using this contraceptive, women tend to have long and abundant menstruation. This often leads to anemia. Intermenstrual bleeding and bleeding after intercourse are also possible;
  • Provocation of the inflammatory process. While using IUD birth control there can appear pain, and discomfort during intercourse or loss of the device;
  • increased vaginal discharge;
  • IUD is the “entrance gate” for infections. Therefore, it is important that a woman has only one sexual partner during the entire period of using the IUD birth control.

Indication for removal of IUD: pain, bleeding, temperature reaction, general malaise.

Preparations for the Installation of IUD

IUD birth control should be installed only by an experienced gynecologist, in compliance with all safety rules and techniques of contraceptive administration.

Before the installation of the IUD, it is necessary to undergo a preliminary examination, the purpose of which is to exclude pregnancy and to detect possible diseases in the patient.

IUD birth control. woman at the consultation with the doctor

The Best Time for the Installation of IUD Birth Control

IUD is installed on the 3-4th day of the menstrual cycle.

The procedure itself is absolutely painless. The doctor enters the device into the uterus cavity after anesthesia. Installation of the IUD is carried out under the supervision of ultrasound and takes no more than 15 minutes.

After Installing the IUD Birth Control:

  • During the first 8 days it is forbidden to have sex;
  • You cannot play sports and visit the pool during the first 7-10 days after the procedure;
  • During this time a woman should stay away from alcohol and food, which can cause irritation of the intestine.

Extraction of the IUD Birth Control

The intrauterine device is removed after the expiration date, when planning a pregnancy, or when there are any complications. Do not do it yourself, so as not to damage the mucous membrane of the uterus. The procedure for removing the IUD should be performed by a gynecologist under sterile conditions.

Removing the IUD is a painless procedure. There is no need for anesthesia.

Many women report a delay in menstruation after the removal of the intrauterine device. This is a normal phenomenon associated with suppression of the development of the endometrium, as well as with inhibition of the function of the ovaries due to the action of the contraceptive. Over time, all functions are restored and the menstrual cycle is normalized.

IUD Birth Control and Pregnancy:  Before Installation and after Removal

IUD Birth Control is a reliable method of contraception both before and after pregnancy.

iud birth control. Pregnant women lined up in a row

Pregnancy before the Installation of the IUD

If a woman doesn’t have postpartum complications, the intrauterine device can be inserted already six weeks after the birth of the child and six months after the cesarean section. The IUD does not affect the baby and does not affect the production of breast milk.

The optimal time for the installation of an IUD birth control after an abortion is the end of the first menstruation after the termination of pregnancy.

Pregnancy after the Extraction of the IUD Birth Control

The use of the intrauterine device does not affect the genital function. In 80% of women who want to have a child, pregnancy usually occurs within 12 months after removal of the IUD.

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