After being considered primitive for decades, IUDs have been rising rapidly among American women in recent years. Strong endorsements from birth-control experts are leading the increase. IUDs are not for every woman, but top women’s health experts are saying they are a good option for most women. This is far different from the old days. Only women who had already given birth were given the option for IUDs, due to the risk of infection. Birth control experts are not balanced on the subject; some argue that the IUD is an under-used option for birth control, while others are still not recommending it. There are two categories of IUDs currently in use, those made of copper and those that emit a progestin hormone.
Intrauterine devices made of copper are effective at preventing pregnancy for 10 years. They are hormone-free making them an option for women who cannot use hormonal contraception. They work by making the intrauterine cavity inhospitable to sperm and hinder the sperm from traveling through the uterus and into the fallopian tubes. The copper IUD can also be used for emergency contraception for up to 5 days following unprotected sex.
With hormonal IUDs, a small amount of progestin, a hormone similar to the natural hormone progesterone, is released into the uterine lining. This hormone thickens cervical mucus and makes it difficult for sperm to enter the cervix. Hormonal IUDs also slow down the growth of the uterine lining, making it inhospitable for fertilized eggs.
As with all birth control options, there are pros and cons. The need for a procedure to get this type of birth control allows you to have conversations with your ob-gyn to find what kind of birth control suits your lifestyle. The conversation should also include a run-down of the risks. A decision should ultimately be made between you and your practitioner.
Pros to IUDs
- It takes a doctor’s visit to have an IUD implanted, but then your birth control is likely set for years.
- The device is close to 100% effective.
- The IUD is also considered one of the most cost-effective forms of birth control when paid for out of pocket. Although it costs several hundred dollars up front, the cost is spread out over years.
- Under federal rules, insurance companies must cover FDA-approved contraception, which includes the IUD, with no co-pays or additional fees.
- Periods diminish or disappear with a progestin-releasing IUD, which many women appreciate.
- The copper IUD offers effective long-term birth control without hormones.
- Though IUDs work long-term, their birth control effect is reversible: once they’re out, it ends.
- IUDs are private and cannot be seen or felt.
Possible Side Effects
- IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections and diseases. An IUD is an effective form of birth control. It is NOT a way to practice safe sex.
- Though current IUDs have caused nothing like the 1970s debacle of the dangerous Dalkon Shield, some complications do arise. There is a remote risk of embedding and perforations. Some women do experience pain, while others don’t. There are also reports of women expelling the IUD, although it is rare.
- The progestin-releasing IUD makes periods lessen or disappear, which some women don’t like.
- While the risk of infection is low, the devices can make existing ones—specifically, chlamydia and gonorrhea—much worse. About one in 100 women report infections within the first 20 days of insertion. The infections can generally be treated with antibiotics. Given that the infections usually arise due to bacteria that crept in during insertion, is it essential to find a skilled practitioner to perform the procedure?
- The copper Paragard can lead to heavier periods.
- Also, though their levels are very low, the progestin released by the hormone IUD can affect some women. Some women experience depression and similar symptoms and ultimately switch to the copper IUD. Others have reported acne, headache, and sore breasts.
If you are considering a new form of birth control contact Dallas Top10 OBGYN Dr. Nathan Thomas today. Dr. Nathan Thomas is a Dallas, Texas Obstetrician and Gynecologist and Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Thomas moved to Dallas in 2009 and now one of the most sought-after OBGYN’s in Dallas. He follows hundreds of patients yearly all receiving the same quality of care and expertise. Dr. Thomas has been named 2015/2016 Top10MD – an honor only 1-in-3 doctor’s in the United States succeed with this recognition. To schedule your appointment contact Dr. Thomas at 972-566-4555.