IUD or Intrauterine Device is a method of contraception for women. Find out how it works and if it could be right for you.
What is IUD or Intrauterine Device?
What is IUD?
IUD or Intrauterine Device is a small, plastic, T-shaped contraceptive method that is placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
IUD comes in two types – those containing copper, called ParaGard, and those containing hormone systems, called Mirena. The methods that both systems use are slightly different but essentially, both prevent pregnancy by making it difficult for the sperm to survive inside the uterus or to reach the egg in the fallopian tube.
The copper IUD works by obstructing the movement of the sperm as it moves towards the egg. This prevents fertilization. It also affects the lining of the uterus, making it difficult for the fertilized egg to get implanted on the wall of the uterus. This may not be suitable for women who are allergic to copper. It also causes heavier bleeding during menstruation as well as severe cramping.
Hormone based IUD
The hormone based IUD, which is also known as IUS (Intrauterine System) in the UK, releases a small amount of Levonorgestrel, which is a progestin. This reduces the frequency of ovulation and also changes the cervical mucous so that the passage of the sperm through the cervix is impeded.
In both cases, with the copper as well as hormone system, the presence of an irritant in the uterus causes the body to release leukocytes and prostaglandins, which are spermicides as well as harmful for the egg. Early stage embryos might also be affected by them.
Benefits and drawbacks of IUD
The IUD is a good method of contraception since it has a high success rate and is also reversible. One does not need to remember to take it regularly like pills, or just before intercourse, like condoms. It is a very inexpensive contraception method for long term pregnancy prevention and is virtually undetectable by both the woman and her partner.
What to watch out for
While IUD is a mostly safe and effective method of contraception, it does have certain drawbacks and may need precautions:
- IUD may be dangerous for women who have pelvic inflammatory disease or sexually transmitted diseases. For this reason, it is not recommended for women with multiple sexual partners, for they have a higher risk.
- The IUD safeguards the woman only against pregnancy, and not STDs, so that danger still needs to be protected against.
- The IUD might slip out undetected, which is why it should be checked regularly.
- There is also a danger of the device perforating the uterine wall. If left unchecked, it can become embedded causing infection, pain, or even sterility.
- In case pregnancy happens while the IUD is in place, the embryo might get implanted somewhere other than the uterus, which can be dangerous.