The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small device “T”-shaped which health care practitioner insert into a woman’s uterus to make difficult fertilization of an egg and implantation of a pregnancy.
A woman must use some method of birth control (contraception) if she is sexually active, fertile and physically able to become pregnant, and if she does not want to become pregnant but no method available today is considered to be 100% effective and offers perfect protection against sexually transmitted infections (sexually transmitted diseases, or STDs), except abstinence.
A monofilament tail of the device is extended through the cervix into the vagina so it can be removed by it or to make sure that IUD is still in the uterus.
There are two different types of IUDs:
- Copper-releasing IUD - releases copper from a copper wire that is wrapped around the base which contributes to an inflammatory reaction in the uterus that helps prevent fertilization of the egg.
- Levonorgestrel-releasing IUD - releases a progesterone hormone to thicken cervical mucus and creating a barrier to sperm, as well as renders the lining of the uterus inhospitable to implantation of a pregnancy. Thickening of the cervical mucus causes a reduction in menstrual flow and a decrease in painful menstrual cramping.
Before insertion, the IUD the pelvic exam is required. The IUD must be inserted by a health care practitioner and usually during a woman’s menstrual period but also at any time during her monthly cycle if a woman is not pregnant.
Every month, a woman must check her IUD to be sure that is still in place by monofilament tail in the vagina, but also the IUD must also be checked periodically by a health care practitioner.
Cooper-releasing IUD must be removed after 10 years and levonorgestrel-releasing IUD after 5 years only by health care practitioner. It is easier to be done during the menstrual period because woman’s cervix is then softer.
The advantages of the IUD are high effectiveness (99%) almost immediately after insertion and quick return to fertility after it is removed.
The side effects of the IUD include:
- Cramps, infections
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Infertility due to infections
Perforation of the uterine wall and enter the abdominal cavity of IUD is also possible but very rare. The warning signs are abdominal pain and heavy bleeding.
The IUD is not appropriate for a woman who had previous pelvic infections, heavy menstrual bleeding and has more than one sexual partner because IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STDs).