IUD Pros and Cons
They're back. IUDs, which in the past got a bad rap due to safety concerns, are getting trendy. In fact, many doctors are calling them the most effective form of reversible birth control and a good option for certain women.
"They are more in vogue now than in the past," says Krystene DiPaola, MD, reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist with the UC Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. "IUDs offers a reliable form of protection against pregnancy."
The tiny plastic, T-shaped devices release copper or a hormone into the uterus, where they are inserted and left in place. One type of IUD, which has a small amount of copper in the main shaft, lasts for up to 10 years, DiPaola explains. The other type releases progesterone and can be left in place for a five-year period, she explains.
"IUDs are a wonderful long-standing option for protection against pregnancy," DiPaola says. "And with the IUD, you can also avoid the issue of a tubal ligation since the IUD provides you with protection for a long period of time." Whenever you want, you simply have it removed.
Should You Get an IUD?
"The best candidates are women who have previously had children and want a long-standing form of contraception," DiPaola says. Women who don't want to remember to take a daily birth control pill also may benefit from having the IUD as a form of birth control, she says.
IUDs are inserted into a woman's uterus in the doctor's office while she is awake. It's generally placed at the beginning of the menstrual cycle. "It must go through the cervix into the uterus," DiPaola says. "Then a string is cut, and the string stays in the vagina."
While some women are concerned that their partner may feel this string during intercourse, DiPaola says, "In the hundreds of IUDs that I have placed, I have never heard that as a complaint. It's a misconception, kind of an urban legend."
IUDs will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases and they are not 100 percent effective. (It's important to note that neither is any birth control method except abstinence.)
In some cases, the IUDs can cause pelvic infections, pelvic pain, and higher than average bleeding.
"Since the IUD sits in the lining of the uterus, if you were to get a pelvic infection it could get much larger," DiPaola says.
But IUD use is becoming more widespread."I would say that the IUD has gotten much more popular in the last 10 years," DiPaola says."The highest proportion of women who use it are female physicians. You don't have to think about it. You can just place it and forget about it for 5 to 10 years."
Cevallas, Marissa. "IUDs and contraceptive implants recommended for women." 22 June 2011. LA Times.
"Long Acting Reversible Contraception: Implants and Intrauterine Devices." July 2011. Obstetrics & Gynecology.
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