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Barbara E. Petty, MSN, WHNP
What Exactly Is an IUD?
Ashburn Sterling Internal Medicine & Pediatrics

What Exactly Is an IUD?

Have you ever considered using an IUD for birth control? Not sure what it is? Many women are not very familiar with this type of birth control. Or, they have heard of it, but don't know that much about it.

Some people also have “heard things” that cause them to shy away from using this very reliable and effective form of birth control.

What Is an IUD?

First of all, IUD means Intra-Uterine Device. It is a little, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets placed in your uterus to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg.

IUDs offer years of protection between three and twelve, depending on the type you get. And if you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD removed at any time

The small device is placed in the uterus by your medical care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant) during a short office visit. Most women go back to their usual daily activities afterwards.

There are basically two types of IUDs those that release hormones and those that don't. The first type, the ParaGard IUD is 100 percent hormone-free and doesn't alter your periods. It's made of plastic and a small amount of natural, safe copper. It can stay inside you up to 10 years.

The other type of IUD releases a small amount of hormone (progesterone) on a daily basis.

There are now two types of the hormone-releasing IUDs Mirena and Skyla. Mirena effectively prevents pregnancy for up to five years. In addition to preventing pregnancy, the Mirena IUD is used to treat heavy menstrual periods and cramping.

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