IUD: Intrauterine Device
I recently read an article about IUD’s, infection and infertility- and I realized that this is a form of birth control I know virtually nothing about. So I set out to learn as much about these contraptions as I could.
Contraption is a pretty good description of what and IUD looks like. As you can see below, they look nothing short of intimidating.
But in fact, the devices are not much larger than a penny and are simply inserted by your physician through the cervix into the uterus. How they work gets a little more tricky.
The Copper T (brand name Paraguard) releases small amounts of copper into the uterus which immobilizes sperm, making it difficult for them to swim properly. As you can imagine, it also changes the lining of your uterus interfering with the mobilization of eggs out of the fallopian tube. It does not prevent ovulation, however it changes the environment so much that conception becomes impossible. These types of IUD’s last approximately 10 years before needing replaced and can only be obtained through your physician or local health clinic.
The Hormonal (brand name Mirena) releases a hormone that, the manufacturer admits is unclear exactly how it prevents pregnancy but works in multiple ways. First it thickens cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to swim into the uterus and secondly thins the uterine lining making implantation of any fertilized eggs just as impossible. Mirena device lasts for about 5 years, and like the Paraguard, can only be obtained through your physician or local health clinic.
Including initial visits, IUD’s can cost several hundred dollars- but if you consider the long term contraceptive benefits the overall cost is small. Paraguard IUD’s have a 99% effective rate (fewer than 1 out of 100 women will become pregnant) while Mirena IUD boasts a 99.9% effective rate (1 in 1000 women will become pregnant). As with any birth control method, it’s best to consult your physician before making any long term decisions.
Have any of our readers tried IUD’s, and if so what have your experiences been?