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Health Information For Parents
An intrauterine device (IUD) is a piece of T-shaped plastic, about the size of a quarter, that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Two types of IUDs are available: one is covered with copper, the other releases the hormone progestin.
The copper-coated IUD prevents pregnancy by not allowing the sperm to fertilize the egg. It may also make it harder for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.
An IUD coated with progestin works in a similar way, but also thickens the cervical mucus and thins the uterine lining. In some cases, it stops ovulation (the release of an egg during the monthly cycle). This prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg and implanting.
A progestin IUD also can be used to help reduce blood flow for girls who have heavy, painful periods (dysmenorrhea).
Both types of IUDs are very effective at preventing pregnancy. Over the course of a year, fewer than 1 out of 100 typical couples using an IUD will have an accidental pregnancy.
The IUD is effective as soon as it is put in and it lasts a long time. A copper IUD can work for 10 years. Progestin IUDs can work for 3 to 5 years, depending on the brand. This makes the IUD a good option for women who are not ready to start a family. Even though an IUD can stay in place for a long time, the doctor or nurse practitioner can remove it at any time.
No. The IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Couples who are having sex must always use condoms along with the IUD to protect against STDs.
A doctor or nurse practitioner will check to be sure a woman doesn’t have any STDs before putting in an IUD. Getting an IUD put in while she has an STD could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Abstinence (not having sex) is the only method that always prevents pregnancy and STDs.
The most common side effects of the IUD include:
Rare problems include:
Expulsion. An IUD can come out of the uterus by accident (called “expulsion”). Sometimes a woman doesn’t know this has happened. If an IUD comes even part of the way out, it does not protect against pregnancy. A woman can check that an IUD is still in place by feeling for the string (a doctor or nurse practitioner can explain how to do this). After someone has an IUD inserted, she’ll need to go back for a follow-up visit to check that the IUD is properly in place.
Perforation of the uterus. There’s an extremely small risk that an IUD might push through the wall of the uterus while it is being put in.
Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). There’s a very low risk of infection from bacteria getting into the uterus during IUD insertion. Most such infections happen in the first 20 days after placement of the IUD.
IUDs are a good birth control option for many girls and women. However, IUDs aren’t recommended for someone:
Experts recommend IUDs as a good birth control option for younger women and teens because they last for many years, need no daily care, and are very effective at preventing pregnancy.
An IUD must be inserted by a doctor or nurse practitioner. This can be done at the doctor’s office, or at a health clinic, like Planned Parenthood. It can be inserted anytime during a menstrual cycle as long as she is not pregnant.
The doctor or nurse practitioner puts the IUD in through the vagina, past the cervix, and into the uterus. This only takes a few minutes from start to finish. People usually feel some cramping during the placement, but it gets better within a few minutes.
Taking it easy for the rest of the day, using a heating pad, and taking over-the-counter pain medicine can help with any discomfort after the IUD is placed.
An IUD can cost anywhere from $0 to $1,300. The cost can vary depending on the health insurance plan and the type of IUD. Many health insurance plans cover the costs, and family planning clinics (such as Planned Parenthood) may charge less.
Because an IUD lasts for many years, the cost works out to about the same as monthly birth control methods, such as the Pill or ring.
Someone with an IUD should call the doctor if she:
Talking to your kids about sex can be a challenge. But discussing issues like birth control can help lower teens’ risk of unintended pregnancy or getting an STD.
Answering kids’ questions about sex is a responsibility many parents dread. But by answering these questions honestly, parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex.
The idea of going to the gynecologist may make your daughter feel nervous. Here’s how to make her feel more comfortable about a well-woman visit.
Big physical and emotional changes happen during puberty and the teen years. These articles can help you become a source of information, comfort, and support for your kids.
Parents should learn about the most common STDs, how they spread, and how they’re diagnosed and treated.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Learn more about the IUD and to find out how well it works for teens.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Before you consider having sex, you need to know how to protect yourself. Read this article to get the basics on birth control.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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