The “pill” is just one option when it comes to birth control. There are many long-lasting reversible contraceptives including intrauterine devices (IUDs) available on the market, and they are shown to be safe, effective and convenient.
In countries outside of the US, as many of 50% of women use IUDs, but for some reason US women have been slow to embrace the option. One reason could be for this could be that women in the US are afraid of using IUDs — thinking they may may be “bad” for you. This might have been the case with the Dalkon Shield IUD from the 1970s, but times have changed.
The copper IUD (ParaGard) is one device available in the US that can be used for at least 10 years. The advantage of this IUD is that it’s non hormonal. Pregnancy is prevented through a “foreign body” effect and the spermicidal action of copper ions. Combining both together prevents fertilization.
Another IUD available is the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS). This one is recommended to use for 5 years, but may remain effective for as long as 7 years. This IUD prevents pregnancy through progestogenic mechanism by thickening the cervical mucus, thinning the endometrium and reducing sperm capacitation.
IUD Myths Busted:
- MYTH: IUDs are not suitable for teens and nulliparous women: This myth came about as people assume that the smaller uterus cavities and cervical diameters of teens and nulliparous women could not handle the IUD. However that’s not true. IUDs can be inserted safely in this population and because teens are at high risk for unintended pregnancy, they can benefit from using IUDs. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that IUDs be the first-line option of ALL women of reproductive age.
- MYTH: An IUD should not be inserted immediately after childbirth. Again this is incorrect.
- MYTH: IUD insertion is difficult. In reality, both the copper IUD and the LNG-IUS are easy to insert. A small percentage of women who find it difficult to pass a uterine sound through the external and internal os, cervical dilators may be beneficial.
- MYTH: Perforation is common. This too is incorrect. Uterine perforation occurs only in 1 in every 1,000 insertions.
Reducing pain on IUD insertion: Many women worry that it may hurt to insert the IUD — and this fear is why they choose other forms of birth control. However, statistics show that IUDs have the highest satisfaction rating over all reversible contraceptives and the greatest efficacy.
So how much does it hurt? On a scale of 1 to 10, two thirds of women had a pain score of 4 or lower. And 46% of women had a pain score of 2 or lower.
If you are concerned about becoming pregnant, it might be time to rethink your birth control options – especially if you are looking for something safe, effective and convenient.