An IUD (or intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped plastic device which is inserted into the uterus as a form of birth control. The devices are both widely used and highly effective, boasting an over 99% success rate. The contraceptive works by releasing either hormones or spermicides into the uterus, thereby preventing the fertilization of the egg. Many women choose an IUD because of its long lasting effects (3 to 6 years), its effectiveness, the minimal effort involved, or a combination of the three. There are several types of IUDs, all accomplishing their goals by undertaking different methods. Here are some of the different types of IUDs, along with their respective processes.
Types of IUDs
Hormonal IUDs – as the name suggests, these IUDs use hormones to prevent fertilization. There are currently four brands of hormonal IUDs. It should be noted that while these IUDs use hormones in order to prevent pregnancy, women who use these devices have less hormones in their bloodstream then women who use other hormonal methods of birth control. You should also keep in mind that these devices don’t contain estrogen, so the hormonal side effects are less.
- Kyleena – this IUD lasts up to five years and releases 17.5 µg of levonorgestrel (the hormone used by all the hormonal IUDs) per day. The aforementioned hormone works by causing the mucus in the uterus to thicken, therefore blocking the pathway used by sperm on the way to fertilize the egg.
- Liletta – this IUD lasts at least five years and releases 19 µg of levonorgestrel per day.
- Mirena – this IUD is the oldest of the hormonal group, and is also the longest lasting (up to six years). It releases 20 µg of levonorgestrel per day.
- Skyla – this IUD lasts up to three years, and only releases 14 µg of levonorgestrel per day.
Nonhormonal IUD – unlike the previous group, these IUDs do not use hormones as a method of birth control. Also, there is only one device in this group. Known as the ParaGard, or copper IUD, this device releases small amounts of copper into the uterus thanks to a small filament wrapped around the device. The copper acts as a spermicide, therefore preventing pregnancy. Contrary to how it sounds, this IUD is completely safe, just like the rest.
Although every form of birth control does contain some element of risk, such as possible increases in cramping and menstrual bleeding, puncture of the uterus, expulsion, low back pain and other side effects, the risk is considered low and IUD’s are reversible. Some women do experience changes in their menstrual cycle while using an IUD, but this is normal. IUDs can also be inserted immediately after giving birth, or immediately after an abortion. Please note, although they are quite effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies, IUD’s do not protect you against sexually transmitted diseases. An IUD must be inserted and removed by a qualified medical professional.
If you, or a loved one would like more information about IUD’s (hormonal or non-hormonal), or other options of birth control available to you, please call University OBGYN Associates at (315) 464-5162 to request an appointment, or request one online.