IUD Birth Control Basics

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Macs_Momma21 posted a great question about IUDs this week. She wants to know much more about using this birth control option, one that is used by more than 85 million women worldwide. Here are some answers and facts:

1.What's an IUD?

IUD stands for intrauterine device which is a little T-shaped plastic device that's placed inside the uterus. It's more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, lasts as long as 12 years (depending on type) and is convenient. Once inserted, you don't have to think about birth control at all. It is usually recommended for women who have already had at least one child.

2. Should I get a copper or hormone-based IUD?

You have to discuss this with your OB/GYN. Both ParaGard (copper) and Mirena (hormone) work on similar premises: The major way they prevent conception is by not allowing the sperm and egg to get together.

The copper on the ParaGard affects the cervical mucus as well as the shape and function of sperm.

The Mirena continuously releases small amounts of the hormone progesterone which thickens cervical mucus and prevents sperm from getting into the uterus. It may prevent some women from ovulating (releasing eggs).

3. How do I get one?

First, you have to see your doctor for an annual exam. Second, you have to wait until you're on your period to have it inserted. (So the doctors can be certain that you are, in fact, not pregnant.) Some OBs will insert an IUD shortly after you've given birth to a child. Third, you need to be checked out again in four to six weeks.

4. Does it hurt?

It is common for women to feel minor cramping when the IUD is inserted. Many women only feel mild discomfort. The cramps go away after you rest, or if you take pain medication. Some health care providers suggest that women take pain medication before the IUD is inserted to lessen the cramps. Some health care providers inject a local anesthetic around the cervix to reduce discomfort.

5. How much does it cost?

Around $250, and most insurance plans will pay for it. If you need a cheaper option, talk to your local Planned Parenthood. They might charge you on a sliding scale.

Hope this info helps you, Macs_Momma21.

Why did you choose to get an IUD. Or not?

birth control