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What is an IUD? Is it a Relevant Contraception for Me?

Contraception and Menopause: Is It Still Necessary?
October 19, 2023

An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus either to provide long-term contraception or to treat heavy bleeding issues. There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper.

Hormonal IUD: This type of IUD is especially preferred as a contraceptive when there is heavy menstrual bleeding. It releases small quantities of a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel into the uterus daily. This hormone works both systemically and locally on the uterine lining to reduce blood flow during periods. It also acts as a contraceptive by thickening the cervical mucus, inhibiting sperm movement, and thinning the uterine lining- thus making it difficult for implantation of an embryo. Hormonal IUDs need to be changed every 5 years.

Copper IUD: This type does not contain hormones. Instead, it contains copper, which creates an environment in the uterus that is toxic to sperm and also prevents implantation. Copper IUDs can provide contraception for up to 3 to 10 years. These IUDs can be used for those who desire contraception and do not suffer from heavy uterine bleeding. In rare instances these IUDs may cause some pain and heavier menstrual bleeding for the first few cycles till the body gets used to it. 

IUDs are appropriate for various individuals, but it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the best contraceptive option for your specific needs. Generally, IUDs are recommended for the following:

Women who desire short term contraception or spacing between 2 children: IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy and require little to no maintenance once inserted.

Women who have had at least one child: Although not exclusively limited to women who have given birth, IUDs are commonly recommended for those who have had a child. However, there are IUD options suitable for women who haven't had children as well.

Women who prefer a reversible method: Unlike permanent contraceptive methods like sterilisation, IUDs can be easily removed by a healthcare professional, allowing for the resumption of fertility.

Women who cannot or prefer not to use hormonal contraception: Copper IUDs are hormone-free and may be a suitable option for those who have contraindications to hormonal methods or prefer non-hormonal contraception.

It's important to note that the appropriateness of an IUD can depend on individual factors, such as medical history, current health conditions, and personal preferences. Consulting with a healthcare provider will help determine if an IUD is the right choice for you.