Whether you’re satisfied with the number of children you currently have, you’re not yet ready to be a parent, or you have health conditions that make an unplanned pregnancy complicated, finding the right birth control method is essential to many women’s health and wellness. At Alpenglow Gynecology, we understand that choosing the right pregnancy prevention option is a personal choice. And we also see more and more women opting for an intrauterine device, commonly referred to as an IUD.
It’s no surprise that many choose a form of long-acting birth control that isn’t impacted by human error (like forgetting to take a pill), is long-lasting, and is more than 99% effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies.
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that your OB/GYN inserts into the uterus and is designed to restrict sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg during ovulation. There are currently two types of IUDs: one releases hormones and one releases copper.
Hormone-releasing IUDs release progestin, a female hormone that promotes the thickening of cervical mucus, which blocks or traps sperm. Copper IUDs, on the other hand, provide protection by releasing copper ions, which are toxic to sperm.
Although IUDs were first released during the 1920s, their popularity has ebbed and flowed over the years. In the mid-1990s, fewer than 1% of women in the United States used an IUD, but a rise in popularity has made it the contraception method of choice for nearly 10% of American women today. Here’s why.
During the first year of use, IUDs are over 99% effective, meaning fewer than one in 100 women with an IUD becomes pregnant. In comparison, other hormonal forms of birth control, such as the pill, the patch, and the ring, are only 91% effective, which means about nine in 100 women become pregnant each year while using these methods.
Among the primary reasons for this increase in effectiveness is that IUDs eliminate user error. With an IUD, you don’t have to remember to change your patch on time or take a pill at the same time every day. IUDs are so effective that only two other forms of contraception have higher rates of effectiveness: permanent sterilization, which is 99.9% effective, and abstinence, which is 100% effective.
IUDs are considered a form of long-acting, reversible birth control and are designed to remain in place and be fully effective for several years. Depending on the brand, a hormonal IUD protects against pregnancy for 3-5 years. Copper IUDs, which last longer, can keep you from becoming pregnant for up to 10 years.
Those who try IUDS have found that not having to think about contraception on a regular basis (as with the pill, patch, or ring) or just before intercourse (as with a condom or diaphragm) is convenient. You don’t have to rely on your partner to use a condom correctly, worry about breakage, or stop during an intimate moment to put it on. IUDs allow you to stay in the moment and worry less.
Because of the long-acting nature of IUDs, they are one of the most economical birth control options available. Even if your insurance doesn’t offer full coverage for your medical exam, insertion procedure, and follow-up visit, any cost you may incur is nominal when you consider the length of time your IUD keeps you protected and often less than the cost of birth control pills and condoms during the same period.
Unlike sterilization, which offers just slightly more protection against unintended pregnancies and is permanent, IUDs are completely reversible. Therefore, using an IUD doesn’t affect your ability to get pregnant in the future. In fact, if you decide to you’re ready to start a family, you can have your IUD removed and start trying to conceive right away. With many other hormonal birth controls, we recommend waiting about six months.
To learn more about the benefits of choosing an IUD or to find out which type of IUD may be best for you, call your OB/GYN or schedule an appointment at Alpenglow Gynecology today.