Should I Get an IUD?

Contraception is a vital aspect of a woman’s health for a good portion of her lifetime. What’s interesting is that many women are not fully informed of their options. Some women start to consider options when they hear details from a friend or when they grow tired of the mental anguish brought on by a broken condom. Some explore birth control outside of condoms and the Pill because they have a hunch that they want something better suited to their needs and lifestyle. Here, we discuss some of the reasons women choose IUDs as their preferred method of birth control.

What is an IUD?

Before we discuss why one would want an IUD, we should explain how this contraceptive works. There are two categories of IUDs, hormonal and non-hormonal. Both are inserted and secured into the uterus. A hormonal IUD releases progestin into the uterus. This hormone thins the uterine lining and thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to pass through. A hormonal IUD may also suppress ovulation, making egg release intermittent. A non-hormonal IUD is made to release copper. This creates inflammation in the uterine lining that destroys sperm.

Like all types of birth control, IUDs are ideal for some and not advisable for others. If you are considering this form of contraception, be prepared to have a thoughtful discussion with your gynecologist. The objective is to determine that this long-term birth control will meet your needs. It might if you want:

  • Highly effective birth control. The failure rate of hormonal IUDs is 0.2 percent. The copper IUD has a failure rate of 0.8 percent. Birth control pills have a failure rate range of less than 1 percent to approximately 9 percent with typical use. If pills are taken inconsistently, the failure rate can increase.
  • Long-term birth control that is quickly reversed. Maybe you don’t want to get pregnant in the next 5 years but, when that time comes, you want your chances of conception to return right away. In many cases, doctors see patients’ ability to conceive return within one menstrual cycle after IUD removal.
  • Easy-peasy birth control. An IUD is not take-it-when-you-need-it birth control. It is not a daily task. It’s not something you have to think about, aside from scheduling your insertion appointment and scheduling an appointment to have it removed. Keep in mind, though, that you do still need to think about STD prevention and should use a condom.
  • Like the idea of a lighter period. Because the progestin in a hormonal IUD causes tissue thinning, there is less bleeding during menstruation. With less tissue to expel, the uterus also may not contract intensely. This can be very fortunate for women who typically have severe menstrual cramps or heavy flow. Keep in mind that this occurs only with a hormonal IUD.
  • You want or need non-hormonal birth control. Birth control pills are not suitable for every woman. For example, smokers have an increased risk of blood clots when taking estrogen. Some women experience lowered libido when taking hormonal birth control and simply prefer another option. A copper IUD could be it.

Your gynecologist is an excellent resource to explore birth control methods. To schedule a consultation at our Houston office, call 713.955.6560.