According to research published by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an intrauterine device (IUD) is used for contraception, but rarely. What is most unfortunate is that this method is consistently more reliable than other forms of birth control and could be used more frequently.
What has developed a questionable reputation over the years, the IUD has been blamed for side effects that have scared many women away from the option when it came to preventing pregnancy. Opting instead for the much less reliable pill or condom, unwanted or unplanned pregnancies continued. Now, thanks to new research medical professionals are focusing on the benefits of the device—including its outstanding reliability.
According to a practice release from the college and its author Eve Espey, MD, MPH, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico, less than 6% of women opted for an IUD for birth control between the years of 2006 and 2008. Why so few? Primarily, women have feared the occasional side effects of increased uterine infection risk or displacement of the device, and have shied away from its use. Many women also fear discomfort when the device is inserted—all of which are minimal concerns for todays’ safer, more effective forms.
The IUD is a small device that looks a bit like an upside down “T” when in place. The two most popular brands marketed in the U.S. are the ParaGard, and Mirena. Paragard offers 10 years of maintenance-free contraception, while the Mirena is effective for 5 years. ParaGard contains copper—which prevents sperm from living to reach an egg for fertilization. Mirena contains low doses of hormones similar to those in birth control pills, and are released over time.
The biggest benefit by far for the IUD is its maintenance-free design. For women who simply lack the discipline or ability to use other forms of birth control reliably, the IUD is an ideal way to prevent pregnancy. The device is inserted through the cervix at the back of the vagina and into the uterus—typically inserted while the cervix is slightly open during menstruation, there is little to no discomfort during the procedure which is completed in the office or clinic setting. The most common side effects are occasional spotting or bleeding during the first few months which often tapers off over the coming months—most women have no period at all while the IUD is in place.
IUD’s are recommended most for women in monogamous relationships—those at a higher risk for contracting an STD should avoid the device as it can serve as a direct line for infection to set deeper into the body.
Unsure about whether an IUD might be right for you? Dr. Hessel is your go-to professional to help you decide if maintenance-free contraception might meet your needs. Schedule your appointment today and find out more.