What is it?
The IUD (intra-uterine device) is a birth control method that a health provider inserts into the uterus. There are 5 types that fall into 2 major categories:
-Skyla (lasts for 3 years) and Kylena (lasts for 5 years)
-Liletta and Mirena (lasts for 7 years)
-Paraguard (lasts for 12 years)
How does it work?
In order for a pregnancy to happen, sperm have to find and “hook up” with an egg (fertilization).
In general, IUDs work by making it very hard for fertilization to happen by preventing sperm from reaching the egg by making the mucous in the cervix thick which makes it hard for the sperm to reach the egg. Also, some types of IUDs (Skyla, Lilleta and Mirena) contain a hormone (Progestin) which may prevent the ovary from releasing an egg.
Is it effective?
IUDs are among the MOST effective types of birth control methods. Less than 1 out of every 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant.
What are the benefits?
-Very effective – You won’t have to worry about getting pregnant!
-No more trips to the pharmacy to pick up birth control (although you still need to keep stocked with condoms. The IUD does NOT protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV
-Very few trips to the clinic (once to put it in, once to take it out! Of course, you should see your health provider for regular check-ups, for STD testing or if you are not feeling well)
-Some types of IUDs (Skyla, Lilleta and Mirena) contain a hormone which can make your periods lighter, and your may have fewer menstrual cramps
-You are in control! They last for years so you can deal with all the other important things in your life…like school, your job, family, relationships and whatnot
What are the downsides?
-Having a procedure – the IUD needs to be put in by a health provider and it may be a little uncomfortable. They will give you medicine before and after to help with the discomfort
-Cramps – after putting the IUD in, you may have cramps and backaches for a few days. Again, you will get medication to help with the discomfort. Some types of IUDs, like Paraguard, may cause cramps for several months afterwards
-Bleeding – with hormonal IUDS (Sklya, Lilleta, Mirena) you may have light periods and spotting for several months. With Paraguard, your periods may be heavier
How do I know if the IUD is right for me?
-If you answer YES to the following questions, then the IUD might be a good choice for you.
-I don’t plan on getting pregnant in the next 3 years or longer
-I am real busy and don’t have time to go to the clinic several times a year for birth control
-There is a lot going on in my life. I have trouble remembering to take a birth control pill daily or switching out a NuvaRing once a month, or even coming to a clinic every 3 months to get a Depo shot
-I am ok with having periods that are light…or not having a period at all
How can I get it & how much does it cost?
-You will need to come to a clinic or a doctor’s office to get the IUD.
-Medicaid and many insurance plans will cover the costs which can be close to $1000 depending on the method if you don’t have insurance. So, get insured! If you need help finding coverage, log onto SingleStop to find a site near where you live or work to get assistance with getting medical insurance. Or, call Project STAY at 646-245-4000 and we can help you get free or low-cost IUDs if you do not have insurance.
What else should I know about the IUD?
-Once the IUD is in, neither you or your partner should be able to feel it
-Once the IUD is in, it should not “fall out”. But, you can double-check by putting a finger inside the vagina and finding the string attached to the IUD. If you can feel the string, the IUD should be in the right position. If you cannot, then come into the clinic and your health provider can check.
-The IUD will have NO effect on your future fertility. Once you decide you are ready to get pregnant and have the IUD removed, you should be able to get pregnant soon thereafter