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Intrauterine Device (IUD): How to get it, benefits & side effects

Different birth control options exist for individuals who are sexually active and would like to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Along with selections like condoms, the morning after pill, spermicide, birth control patch, there is also the Intrauterine Device popularly referred to as IUD.

What is IUD and how do you get one

The Intrauterine Device is shaped like a T, holds a little over the weight of a quarter, and fits into the uterus. It is inserted in through the vagina into the uterus by a doctor or a nurse from a procedure similar to getting a pap smear. With your feet in stirrups, the doctor holds the vagina open with a speculum and puts the IUD in a small tube which will be inserted into your vagina.

 

The doctor will move the tube through the cervix and into the uterus before pushing the IUD out of the tube and pulling it out. Strings attached to the IUD is left behind and hangs 1-2 inches into the vagina.

 

With 99% effectiveness, the IUD is one of the safest, most effective methods of preventing pregnancy as it offers protection 24/7 and can be used for long depending on the expiration of the type you get which is usually 3-12 years. 

 

What to know before getting the IUD 

Unlike condoms, however, the IUD offers no form of protection against STDs, and inserting progestin-releasing IUDs, also referred to as the hormonal IUDs (Kyleena, Liletta, Skyla), can also be used to cut down on cramps, make periods lighter, and treat symptoms of endometriosis and PCOS. The hormonal IUDs makes the mucus on your cervix thicker which in turn, blocks sperm from getting to the eggs. Side effects that usually go away between 3-6 months may include spotting between periods, irregular periods, pain, cramping, and backaches when the IUD is put in.

 

Non-hormonal IUD is the copper IUDs and is a good option for those who prefer non-hormonal options or can’t use hormonal methods because of medical reasons. The copper IUD also has an added advantage of being used as emergency contraception. This means that immediately after sex, it can be inserted to prevent pregnancy. However, the non-hormonal (copper) IUDs are likely to make periods heavier, cause cramping especially within the first 3-6 months.

 

Although you can have sex as soon as you want after the insertion of the IUD, it is suggested that you use a backup method of birth control at least until the IUD starts to function. The type of IUD you get determines if you are protected from pregnancy right away or not. The copper IUD prevents pregnancy as soon as it is in place but the hormonal IUD only prevents pregnancy right away if it is inserted during the first 7 days of your period.

 

Benefits of the IUD

They are economical. As earlier stated, the IUD serves you for a period of 3-12 years which means that they last for longer and helps you cover cost. In addition, they do not require constant thought or preparation; when they are in, they are in. Neither you nor your partner has to worry about the hassles that come with using other methods of contraceptives. The IUDs can also be used by breastfeeding mothers.

 

Possible side effects 

After insertion of the IUD by the doctor, it is advisable to rest at home because you might experience dizziness, pain, or cramping which can be eased by taking prescribed medication. In the first 3 months, there is also a small chance that the IUD can slip out, so it is advisable to check your pads, and the toilet after you must have used it.

 

There are chances that you will have no problem with your IUDs but if you experience warning signs such as; the length of your IUD string feeling shorter or longer than it was, the feel of the hard plastic bottom of the IUD through your cervix, there is pain or bleeding during sex, vaginal discharge/bleeding different or heavier than usual or if you have unprotected sex with someone that has STD, be sure to visit your doctor right away.

 

IUDs are safe and shouldn’t be felt by your partner during sex. To remove the IUD, like the initial procedure, you have to visit the doctor who will put your feet in stirrups and slowly, with the use of forceps, pull the IUD out. You may also experience cramping and/or bleeding but this should stop between 1-2 days.

If you have more questions on the intrauterine device and how to get one, kindly reach out to our Moderators on our Facebook Page and we will respond.

Marie Stopes Nigeria

 

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