A Beginner’s Guide to IUDs: What You Should Know

Jan 24, 2024

A Beginner’s Guide to IUDs: What You Should Know

Jan 24, 2024

While there are many forms of birth control, IUDs are slowly becoming one of the most popular. A lot has to do with the convenience of doing nothing for up to 10 years when it comes to birth control. With that said, not all women know how does an IUD works.

In this beginner’s guide to IUDs, we’ve got all the information you need on IUDs as an effective form of birth control and everything else you should know.

Whether you’re considering an IUD for contraception or simply curious about this option, read on to discover the ins and outs of this modern contraceptive method.

What Is an IUD?

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a quarter-sized piece of T-shaped plastic that is inserted into the uterus to prevent conception. Two varieties of IUDs are available: one distributes the hormone progestin, while the other is coated with copper.

How Does an IUD Work?

IUDs prevent pregnancy through different mechanisms. The copper-coated IUD impedes pregnancy by preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg. Additionally, it may make it more challenging for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.

On the other hand, an IUD coated with progestin thickens cervical mucus, thins the uterine lining, and, in some cases, halts ovulation, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg and implanting.

Progestin IUDs can also help reduce heavy or painful menstrual flow. These dual-action contraceptives offer both reliable birth control and potential benefits for managing periods.

Are IUDs Effective?

IUDs are highly effective contraceptives, earning their reputation as one of the most reliable reversible methods of preventing pregnancy. Their effectiveness is impressive, with a less than 1% pregnancy risk.

A study in Finland demonstrated that increasing access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods, including IUDs, led to greater LARC utilization and a decrease in abortion rates within the community.

These findings underscore the reliability and impact of IUDs as a birth control choice.

IUD Benefits, Risks, and Contraindications

IUDs offer numerous benefits as a contraceptive choice:


One of the primary advantages of IUDs is their durability. Depending on the type, they can provide contraception for several years, reducing the need for frequent replacements or adjustments.


Once an IUD is inserted, it requires minimal maintenance. You and your partner can enjoy peace of mind without the daily concerns associated with some other birth control methods.


IUDs represent a one-time upfront cost, eliminating the ongoing expenses associated with other contraceptive methods like pills or condoms.

Compatible with Breastfeeding

IUDs are safe to use while breastfeeding, making them a suitable option for new mothers.

Common Side-Effects

While IUDs offer many benefits, they may also come with some common side effects, which can vary depending on the type.

Irregular Bleeding

It’s common to experience irregular bleeding during the initial months after IUD insertion. This typically stabilizes over time.

Heavier Periods and Cramps

The copper IUD may lead to heavier periods and increased cramping.

Lighter or Absent Periods

Some progestin-based IUDs may result in lighter or even absent periods, which can be considered a benefit by some individuals.

PMS-Like Symptoms

Hormonal IUDs may occasionally cause PMS-like symptoms such as moodiness, headaches, acne, nausea, and breast tenderness.

Rare Problems

While IUDs are generally safe, rare complications may occur.


In rare cases, an IUD can unintentionally come wholly or partially out of the uterus. When this happens, it no longer protects against pregnancy, highlighting the importance of follow-up visits after IUD insertion to ensure proper placement.

Perforation of the Uterus

There is a shallow risk that an IUD might push through the uterine wall during insertion.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

Although the risk is shallow, infection from bacteria entering the uterus during IUD placement can lead to PID. Most such infections occur within the first 20 days after IUD insertion, emphasizing the importance of proper hygiene and post-insertion care.

Is an IUD Right For Me?

Choosing the proper contraceptive method depends on your individual preferences and health considerations.

While an IUD may not be suitable for everyone, its high effectiveness has made it increasingly popular.

IUDs are particularly well-suited for those who prefer not to take a daily pill or are opposed to implants. They offer a convenient, long-term solution that doesn’t require daily attention.

It’s important to note that while IUDs are excellent for preventing pregnancy, they do not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


How Is an IUD Put In?

The insertion of an IUD is a relatively straightforward procedure conducted by a doctor or nurse practitioner.

They guide the IUD through the vagina, past the cervix, and into the uterus, a process that typically takes only a few minutes.

Is IUD Insertion Painful?

For most people, IUD insertion may be uncomfortable but not excessively painful. Some cramping may occur as the IUD is inserted.

Occasionally, individuals may feel dizzy or faint when attempting to stand up afterward. In such cases, lying down until you feel well enough to stand and then rise slowly is recommended.

Can an IUD Fall Out?

IUD expulsion is exceptionally rare. When it does occur, it is more likely in individuals who haven’t had children, those with an unusually shaped uterus, or those with fibroids.

While this occurrence is unusual, knowing expulsion signs, such as the IUD’s strings feeling longer than usual or noticing the device itself, is crucial.

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