- The intrauterine device (IUD) offers highly effective birth control.
- Women who get one don’t have to worry about taking pills, getting shots, or replacing rings and patches all the time.
- Once you’re prescribed an IUD by a doctor, you can set up an insertion procedure.
- Call your insurance company and talk to your doctor about the risks.
The intrauterine device (IUD) is a convenient way to prevent pregnancy: The small implant is highly effective, reversible, and low-maintenance. Women who get one don’t have to worry about taking pills, getting shots, or replacing rings and patches all the time.
One drawback, however, is that obtaining an IUD is multi-step process involving a couple doctor’s appointments. Curious about getting an IUD but not sure where to start? Here’s a simple guide to choosing an IUD and having it inserted.
The IUD is safe, long-lasting, effective, and reversible
IUDs have long suffered from a bad reputation because of the Dalkon Shield, an IUD used back in the 1970s that increased the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, a condition that can lead to infertility. But today’s IUDs are safe and highly recommended by gynecologists. Research shows that women’s healthcare providers use IUDs more than any other kind of birth control.
Depending on which brand you choose (see below), the IUD works for three to 10 years.
It’s also extremely effective: When it comes to preventing pregnancy, the IUD is on par with female sterilization (or “getting your tubes tied”), according to the CDC. Over the course of a year, fewer than 1 in 100 IUD users has an unintended pregnancy. Compare that with the pill: In that same one-year time frame, nine of out every 100 pill takers experiences an unintended pregnancy.
And unlike female sterilization, the IUD is not permanent. It can be removed by a healthcare professional at any time, and then you can get pregnant.
There are five different IUDs on the market
Skyla, Liletta, Kyleena, and Mirena are hormonal IUDs. They release small amounts of the hormone levonorgestrel into your uterus every day. Skyla lasts three years; Liletta, Kyleena, and Mirena last five.
ParaGard is hormone-free. It’s made of copper and lasts 10 years.
Both types of IUDs prevent pregnancy by making it harder for sperm to reach and fertilize the egg, Planned Parenthood explains.
Most women are good candidates for an IUD, but there are some people who shouldn’t get them, as INSIDER previously reported. A doctor can help you figure out if it’s right for you.
Make an appointment and set up the insertion
The first step: Make an appointment with your health care provider and ask for an IUD prescription. Don’t have a doctor to call? The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has a tool that lets you search for providers in your area. You can also contact your local Planned Parenthood center for help.
Once you’re prescribed an IUD, you can set up an insertion: That’s when a health care provider uses a device to put the IUD into your uterus. It may be painful, but it takes only a few minutes, and you can get it done anytime.
However, some healthcare providers will schedule your insertion within seven days of the start of your period. Hormonal IUDs can start preventing pregnancy right away only if they are inserted in this time frame, according to Planned Parenthood. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait 7 days after insertion before the IUD starts protecting against pregnancy, the CDC says. (ParaGard, on the other hand, starts working right away no matter when you get it.)
The IUD may be free depending on your insurance coverage
Because of the Affordable Care Act, lots insurance plans fully cover the cost of IUDs, meaning many women get them for $US0 out of pocket. If you don’t know whether your plan covers IUDs, call the customer service number on the back of your insurance ID card.Mirena, Skyla, and Liletta all provide a list of specific questions to ask the customer service rep when you do make the call. Medicaid can also help cover IUD costs, and Bayer (maker of Skyla and Mirena) has a program that can help certain patients afford their IUDs.
If you do have to pay out of pocket, the IUD and insertion can cost up to $US1,300, according to Planned Parenthood.
IUDs do have some risks
There some risks to consider with the IUD, according to the ACOG. They include pregnancy (no form of contraception is 100% effective), ectopic pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and the possibility that the IUD might come out of the uterus.
But remember: The risk of IUD complications is low. There’s a reason more and more women are starting to use IUDs: They’re safe, they’re simple, and they work better than many other forms of birth control.
This post has been updated to reflect the fact that Liletta has been FDA-approved to last up to five years. It was initially approved to last up to three years.
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