Everything you need to know about IUDs

Everything you need to know about IUDs

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About the author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

More about this author

About the Author

Kate graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from San Diego State University. She is the Content Manager at Uqora and is responsible for Uqora's social media, newsletters and contributing to the UTI Learning Center.

More about this author

Did you know that the very first condoms were made from fish bladders and animal intestines? People have been using contraception for thousands of years. Lucky for us, as technology advances so does medicine. Gone are the days of fish bladder condoms, and even the days where the pill was the only option.

IUDs have become more and more popular. Planned Parenthood reported a 75% spike in IUD use among its patients between 2008-2012. So what is the deal? IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control, are long lasting and are not permanent. So if you don't like the commitment or side effects of the pill, don’t want to hear the pitter patter of little feet running around but want to have children at a later time, an IUD could be a fantastic option.

What is an IUD?

IUD stands for intrauterine device. It a small piece of plastic shaped like a T and is comparable to the size of a quarter. There are two types of IUDs-the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD. The copper IUD is called ParaGard and last up to 12 years. The hormonal IUD uses a hormone called progestin, the same hormone used in the pill to prevent pregnancy. There are four different hormonal IUDs approved by the FDA lasting a range of 3 to 6 years.

Procedure of inserting an IUD

The IUD will be inserted by a doctor or nurse. Prior to getting an IUD they will ask you medical history questions, make sure you don’t have any STDs or UTIs and examine your uterus to make sure you are a-okay to get an IUD. Then they will usually numb your cervix and use a thin tube to insert the IUD into your uterus. It’s usually a very fast process, lasting around five minutes.

Many people experience pain and cramping immediately after getting the IUD inserted while others experience no pain at all. If you are experiencing some discomfort take the day off. It’s the perfect time to relax and take time for yourself.


IUDs are over 99% effective, making them one of the most effective forms of birth control. It’s also very easy to use, once inserted it becomes effective almost immediately and stays effective until it expires. If you choose to get an IUD, write down the date you got it so you know exactly when you need to get it replaced.

Hormonal IUDs prevent the sperm from reaching the egg by thickening the lining of your uterus this can reduce or stop ovulation which means lighter, less painful periods. Some women lose their periods altogether.


It can take a while for some women’s bodies to adjust to the IUD. Normal side effects include irregular periods and spotting in between periods. Heavier periods with more painful cramps are mainly associated with the copper IUD but all side effects should go away within 3 to 6 months. If you are still experiencing negative side effects longer than 6 months you should consult a doctor regarding having the IUD removed.

There are rare cases where an IUD can fall out or become dislodged. This is unlikely, but more common the first three months of getting it inserted. If this happens your IUD needs to be removed and you should visit a doctor ASAP to do this. It is also possible to get a bacteria infection in your uterus when the IUD is inserted. This is unlikely, however, it can be treated, but may affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.

IUDs also don’t prevent STDs so while you won’t be worried about getting pregnant, condom use along with an IUD is highly recommended.

There is also increasing anecdotal evidence that different types of IUDs may increase the risk of bacterial vaginosis.


If you decide at any time that you want to have a baby or want to try a different birth control method, removal of the IUD is quick and simple. A doctor or nurse will pull the string attached to the IUD and it slips out, similar to how removing a tampon works.

You might experience light spotting right after your IUD is removed but shouldn’t have any severe side effects. Your period and fertility go back to normal once it’s removed.


IUDs can be expensive or be completely covered by insurance depending on your health insurance plan. Even if you don't have insurance and depending on your income, you might qualify for state programs that will help you pay for birth control. It really varies person by person but Planned Parenthood has offices all over the United States and is set up to provide service for everyone, regardless if you have insurance or not.

Alternative methods for preventing and managing chronic UTIs are emerging.