The IUD

What is it?

The IUD (intra-uterine device) is made of plastic and looks like a “T.” There are 3 types:

  • Skyla and Liletta (lasts for 3 years)
  • Mirena (lasts for 5 years)
  • Paraguard (lasts for 10 years)

How does it work?

During a procedure, a health professional will insert the IUD into your uterus

In order for a pregnancy to happen, sperm have to find and “hook up” with an egg. In general, IUDs work by making it very hard for that to happen by preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Some types of IUDs (Skyla, Lilleta and Mirena) contain a hormone which can make your periods lighter. The 4th type (Paraguard) has NO hormones, can last longer (10 years) but you may have heavier periods for awhile.

A lot of people think that when someone has sex the sperm reaches the fallopian tubes in seconds or minutes. This is not true. It can take up to five days for the sperm to reach the egg. Emergency contraception works by preventing the egg from being released from the ovary. So, when the sperm arrives, there will be no egg around to connect with or “fertilize.”

Emergency contraception can come in 1 pill or 2 pills. We recommend you can take both pills at once. Even though directions may say to take them 12 hours a part that is harder to do and good research shows that the pills work just as well if you take them together. Newer brands of Emergency contraception now have only one pill, which you should take as soon as possible. A few brands of EC are: Plan B One Step, Next Choice, and Ella.

How well does it work?

IUDs are among the MOST effective types of contraceptive methods. Less than 1 out of every 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant.

What are the benefits?

  • Very safe
  • Very effective – You won’t have to worry about getting pregnant!
  • No more trips to the pharmacy to pick up birth control (although you still need to keep stocked with condoms. The IUD does NOT protect against STDs and HIV)
  • Very few trips to the clinic (once to put it in, once to take it out! Of course, you should see your health provider for regular check-ups or if you are not feeling well)
  • Some types of IUDs (Skyla, Lilleta and Mirena) contain a hormone which can make your periods lighter, and your may have fewer menstrual cramps
  • You are in control! They last for years so you can deal with all the other important things in your life…like school, your job, family, relationships and whatnot

What are the downsides?

  • Having a procedure – the IUD needs to be put in by a health provider and it may be a little uncomfortable. They will give you medicine before and after to help with the discomfort
  • Cramps – after putting the IUD in, you may have cramps and backaches for a few days. Again, you will get medication to help with the discomfort. Some types of IUDs, like Paraguard, may cause cramps for several months afterwards
  • Bleeding – with hormonal IUDS (Sklya, Lilleta, Mirena) you may have light periods and spotting for several months. With Paraguard, your periods may be heavier

How can I get it?

You will need to come to a clinic or a doctor’s office to get the IUD.

How much does it cost?

Medicaid and many insurance plans will cover the costs which can be close to $1000 depending on the method if you don’t have insurance. So, get insured! If you need help finding coverage, log onto SingleStop to find a site near where you live or work to get assistance with getting medical insurance