Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): What Women Need to Know?
An IUD is a highly effective form of birth control that can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years or more. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there. Cobb Women’s Health is dedicated to helping women live their healthiest lives. Contact us today and request an appointment online. Our clinic is conveniently located at 1810 Mulkey Road Suite 102 Austell, GA 30106.
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IUDs, or intrauterine devices, lie in the uterus as a form of birth control. Many women may choose IUDs as their preferred form of birth control due to its reversibility and low maintenance characteristics. It should be known that there are two distinct types of IUDs that work quite differently from each other, but despite this, each type shows greater than 99% effectiveness. First, there are hormonal IUDs which, as the name implies, release hormones into the uterus that make it very difficult for sperm to reach the egg. The other major type of IUDs are copper IUDs in which the chemical properties of copper are taken advantage of to ensure that sperm does not reach the egg. Common brands of IUDs include Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, and Skyla on the hormonal side, while Paragard is a copper IUD. From a longevity standpoint, copper IUDs can function for up to 12 years, while the hormonal counterparts can function anywhere from 3 to 8 years depending on the brand. While IUDs may seem like a major commitment, it is not necessarily the case since they are able to be removed by a doctor (typically a gynecologist) when the patient desires.
While both hormonal and copper IUDs serve the same purpose of birth control, they accomplish this in different ways. With that being said, IUDs trigger immune responses to allow the body to create an environment in which sperm cannot fertilize an egg. When a hormonal intrauterine device is active, a synthetic version of the progesterone hormone, progestin, is released, which in turn thickens the cervical mucus and helps prevent sperm from reaching the egg upwards of 99% of the time. As for how copper IUDs function, copper ions have been documented to weaken the activity of sperm. The device releases small amounts of copper into the uterus to spur an immune response and create an environment in which sperm cannot reach the egg for fertilization. Additionally, copper IUDs have also been observed to thin the uterine lining while in effect, making it even more difficult for the development of an egg even if it is able to be fertilized. Keep in mind that both forms are upwards of 99% effective and that it is largely up to the patient to decide which IUD they prefer.
While IUDs weren’t initially considered to function as a form of contraception, over time they have shown that within 5 days of unprotected sex, IUDs are able to function as highly effective emergency contraception. Copper IUDs were initially the type of IUD shown effective in preventing pregnancies despite unprotected sex, however, more recently, hormonal IUDs have shown to be just as effective. While they are each able to function as emergency contraception, it is important to keep in mind that IUDs are generally for those looking at a method of longer-term birth control rather than contraception. In addition, implanting such a device will require a physician knowledgeable and experienced in reproductive health, who is likely to be a practicing gynecologist.
Intrauterine devices have a stellar resume when it comes to their contributions to reproductive health, able to function as both a form of birth control and emergency contraception, however, like many other birth control methods, it does not prevent people from acquiring sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Despite this shortcoming, there are still several ways to prevent or lower the chances of STDs. Condom use is another great way to minimize the risk of pregnancy, with the added benefit of lowering the chances of getting an STD. Other steps to reduce the chances of contracting an STD include getting vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B, reducing the number of sexual partners, and of course, abstinence. It is also a good idea to get tested for STDs if you are sexually active to catch any potential risks as early as possible. So while IUDs are not able to protect from STDs, there are a number of other steps you can take to minimize the risk. We serve patients from Austell GA, Lithia Springs GA, Mableton GA, Powder Springs GA, Douglasville GA, Fair Oaks GA, Hiram GA, Clarkdale GA, Smyrna GA, Marietta GA and nearby areas!
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