10 Reasons the IUD Is Perfect for Moms Who Are Done With Babies ... For Now

iud

You know that quiet, mysterious girl who seems to come out of nowhere, and suddenly everyone's talking about her? Well my friends, the IUD is the birth control version of that girl. If you've been wondering what the big deal is with this highly-effective, long-lasting method we've got the full scoop right here.

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The intrauterine device (IUD) is 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy. It's not the most commonly-used form of birth control yet, but its use is growing by leaps and bounds. 

Women choose the IUD because it's an easy form of birth control. Once it's in, you're protected -- for years. And you don't have to do anything else. Here's everything you need to know about the IUD.

1. What it is. The IUD is a device that gets implanted inside your uterus. It's T-shaped and just over an inch tall, not counting the string attached to one end.

There are two different kinds of IUDs used in the U.S. The ParaGard is made with a small amount of copper. And there's a hormonal version sold as the Mirena, Skyla, and the newly-approved Liletta. This second kind of IUD is made with a small amount of levonorgestrel, a progestin. The hormone level released is lower than that of the pill, and it stays mostly local instead of going through your blood system.

2. How it works. The IUD seems to work two different ways, we think. (Believe it or not, doctors are still not completely sure about this!) It prevents sperm from fertilizing any eggs you release. And it changes the lining in your uterus so even if an egg does get fertilized, it can't implant itself.

3. Possible side effects. With the ParaGard, your periods may become heavier, cramps may intensify, and you may bleed between periods. With the Mirena, periods may become lighter and in some cases disappear altogether. (More of a benefit, for some women!)

4. Insertion. This is a two-step process. First, your doctor will insert a sterile instrument to measure you. Then they use a special tool to feed the IUD through your vagina and into your uterus. There is some pinching, so it's a good idea to take some pain reliever before your appointment. (I also had a glass of wine. Don't tell my doctor.)

You should be able to go on with your day as usual after that. Really -- you don't have to spend the rest of the day "recovering" in bed or anything like that.

5. How soon you can have sex. Once your IUD has been inserted it should be immediately effective. However, some doctors recommend you wait 24 hours just to be safe.

More from The Stir: Most Women Are Still Not Using the Best Method of Birth Control

6. How long it lasts. You can keep the copper ParaGard in for up to 10 years. You can keep the hormonal Mirena for up to 5 years.

7. Breastfeeding. You can have an IUD inserted right after childbirth, and it shouldn't interfere with breastfeeding at all.

8. How soon you can conceive after removal. Once your IUD is out, your body should return to its previous fertility right away. 

Remember that scene in Don't Be Tardy where Kim Zolciak yanks out her own IUD because she wants to make a baby NOW? Don't do that. Let your doctor do it.

9. How it feels. You shouldn't be able to feel your IUD inside your body. However, your partner may be able to feel the string during sex. If this bothers either of you, ask your doctor to trim that string.

10. Who should get one. Most healthy, ovulating women should be able to get an IUD. It's recommended for women who aren't at risk for STDs. If you are in a monogamous relationship, and know your partner is monogamous, too, you are likely a good candidate.

11. Myths. You may have heard the IUD causes uterine infections which can lead to infertility. An earlier version of the IUD introduced in the 1970s was linked to infections, but it turns out the device wasn't causing infections after all. Nevertheless, that IUD was taken off the market. 

And some people believe the IUD is only for women over 35, or women who are done making babies. Not so! Teens, younger women, and women who expect to have more children can also get one.

12. Cost. The IUD is expensive! Up to $900, not including the doctor visits. That's one of the biggest reasons why more women don't use it. However, more and more insurance policies are covering it -- because it's way less expensive to cover than a baby.

What if your insurance still doesn't cover it? You may be relieved to know that the Liletta is being made available at public health clinics at below-market costs, making it more affordable to women of all income levels, with or without insurance.

Every woman who uses an IUD may tell you a different story. I tried both kinds, and the Mirena works much better for me.

Have you ever considered using an IUD -- or are you using one now?

 

Image via Image Point Fr/Shutterstock; © iStock.com/flocu

 

 

 

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