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Contraception Options – IUD

IUD contraceptionUnless well educated in this field, most of us immediately think of the -T’ shaped device when we hear IUD (Intra Uterine Device).

But surprisingly, there are different shapes of IUDs and various ways that they work in preventing pregnancy. Most availability comes down to what country you live in. But all have the same important job to do!

Boasting a 98% success rate on the pregnancy prevention table, IUDs are placed inside the woman’s uterus – the IUD is popped in to place by a medical care worker.

Despite the number of variations, generally speaking there are two main categories which affect the workings of the IUD. One is using copper, while the other uses hormones. Neither, however, protect against HIV or any other sexually transmitted diseases.

While both types negatively affect sperm movement and sperm survival in the womb so that the sperm cannot reach the egg and therefore fertilise it, one does this with the help of copper metal and the other controls sperm movement using hormones.

It is the copper in the copper -models’ that affects the sperm. A small and unobtrusive device, this IUD commonly has thin copper wire wrapped around it. There is a copper IUD device which works using small copper beads which hang down on plastic threads from a frame support which is placed in position near the top of the uterus.

Although some women opt for the copper IUD because they don’t want to use a device with artificial hormones, the hormone IUD is still a popular choice. This small plastic device is made with a small amount of synthetic progesterone hormone that goes into the wall of the uterus, making fertilisation nearly impossible.

In the United Kingdom where there are more than ten types of copper-containing IUDs, the term IUD only refers to copper-containing devices. In the U.S., IUD refers to both copper and hormone IUDs, although there are only two types of each available to women.

Although there are variations in the shape and methods of IUDs, all provide as high a success rate as the contraceptive pill.

You cannot feel the IUD if it has been inserted correctly by a trained professional, but most women experience some or other side effects to a certain extent. Many have reported a reduced menstrual bleeding or even an elimination of their periods when using a hormone IUD for protection. On the other hand, copper-containing IUDs often have the opposite effect.

Having an Intra Uterine Device fitted is not painful, and no anaesthetics are needed. If anything, it is just a discomfort for the short procedure.

You will need to discuss this choice of contraceptive with your health care worker or doctor prior to having it inserted. At your next appointment you will be asked to lie in the same position as if you were about to have a Pap smear. A speculum will be placed in your vagina and your cervix will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. The length of the uterus is measured and the IUD is placed inside the womb through the cervix which is the opening of the uterus. The string hanging from the device will be cut so that it lies high up in the vagina.

Neither you nor your sexual partner will notice it but you should be able to feel the string if you reach right up into your vagina. This string must protrude slightly from the uterus for the purpose of removing the IUD.

Most sexually mature women who are fit and healthy usually enjoy the freedom of this type of contraceptive, but there are exceptions. This includes women who are at long-term risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, women who experience undiagnosed bleeding from the vagina and women suffering from pelvic inflammatory disease.

But remember, with sexually transmitted diseases – including HIV -featuring so highly in our world today, wearing an IUD does not mean you are safe from the horrors of that arena  – only 98% safe from falling pregnant! Use a condom, be twice as safe!

 – Bev

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