How do I get an IUD?

Getting an IUD for birth control begins with a consultation with one of our practitioners. Benefits and risks will be discussed. Options for your insertion  comfort will be offered. A follow up string check appointment is mandatory for your safety. If an IUD is appropriate for you, you may schedule an appointment for insertion. Insurance coverage or cost will be determined. Payment is due before your IUD is inserted.

What’s an IUD?

An IUD is a tiny device that’s put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It’s long-term, reversible, and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.

IUD stands for Intrauterine Device (basically: a device inside your uterus). It’s a small piece of flexible plastic shaped like a T. Sometimes it’s called an IUC — intrauterine contraception.

FAQs

How do IUDs work?

Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm cells move so they can’t get to an egg. If sperm can’t make it to an egg, pregnancy can’t happen.

The ParaGard IUD uses copper to prevent pregnancy. Sperm doesn’t like copper, so the ParaGard IUD makes it almost impossible for sperm to get to that egg.

The hormones in the Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla IUDs prevent pregnancy in two ways: 1) they thicken the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps the sperm, and 2) the hormones also sometimes stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there’s no egg for a sperm to fertilize. No egg, no pregnancy.

One of the awesome things about IUDs is that they last for years — but they’re not permanent. If you decide to get pregnant or you just don’t want to have your IUD anymore, your nurse or doctor can quickly and easily take it out. You’re able to get pregnant right after the IUD is removed.

What are the types of IUDs?

There are 5 different brands of IUDs that are FDA approved for use in the United States: ParaGard, Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla.

These IUDs are divided into 2 types: copper IUDs (ParaGard) and hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla).

The ParaGard IUD doesn’t have hormones. It’s wrapped in a tiny bit of copper, and it protects you from pregnancy for up to 12 years.

The Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla IUDs use the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is very similar to the hormone progesterone that our bodies make naturally. Mirena works for up to 7 years. Kyleena works for up to 5 years. Liletta works for up to 7 years. Skyla works for up to 3 years.

What are the benefits of IUDs?

IUDs are one of the best ways to prevent pregnancy, and they last for years. You can get it, forget it, and still be protected.

IUDs are VERY effective.

IUDs give you great, long-term protection against pregnancy — they’re more than 99% effective. They work as well as sterilization and the birth control implant. IUDs are one of the most effective methods you can get because there’s almost no way you can mess it up. You can’t forget to use it (like the pill or ring), or use it incorrectly (like condoms). IUDs are “set-it-and-forget-it” birth control.

IUDs are REALLY convenient.

Once your IUD is in, you barely have to think about it — it works until it expires or you have it taken out. That means no trips to the pharmacy, no pill to take or ring to put in, and nothing you have to do before sex to prevent pregnancy. Plus you’re protected against pregnancy for 3 to 12 years, depending on what kind you get.

You can get pregnant after taking out an IUD.

IUDs are reversible. If you decide you want to get pregnant, you can get it removed at any time. IUDs won’t affect your fertility or make it harder to get pregnant in the future. In fact, it’s possible to get pregnant as soon as your IUD is out.

IUDs can make your periods better.

Hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla) can cut down on cramps and make your period way lighter. Some people totally stop getting periods at all. Hormonal IUDs can help treat people who suffer from severe cramps, really heavy periods, and anemia.

The copper IUD doesn’t have hormones.

Some people prefer non-hormonal birth control, or can’t use methods with hormones because of medical problems. Luckily, the ParaGard (copper) IUD is super effective at preventing pregnancy AND totally hormone free.

The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception.

ParaGard IUDs are the most effective form of emergency contraception out there. If you get one within 120 hours (5 days) of having unprotected sex, it’s over 99% effective against pregnancy. And — bonus! — your copper IUD can keep preventing pregnancy for as long as you like up to 12 years.

How effective are IUDs?

The IUD is almost mistake-proof, making it one of the most effective methods available.

How effective are IUDs when used as birth control?

IUDs are one of the best birth control methods out there — more than 99% effective. That means fewer than 1 out of 100 people who use an IUD will get pregnant each year.

IUDs are so effective because there’s no chance of making a mistake. You can’t forget to take it (like the pill), or use it incorrectly (like condoms). And you’re protected from pregnancy 24/7 for 3 to 12 years, depending on which kind you get. Once your IUD is in place, you can pretty much forget about it until it expires. You can keep track of your insertion and removal date using our birth control app.

What are the disadvantages of IUDs?

Some people have side effects that bother them after getting an IUD, but these usually go away after a few months. Rarely, the side effects can be serious.

IUD side effects.

Some people have side effects after getting an IUD. They usually go away in about 3–6 months, once your body gets used to the visitor in your uterus. So if you can stick it out for a few months, there’s a good chance the side effects will ease up. You can keep track of the side effects you’re experiencing using our birth control app.

Side effects can include:

  • pain when the IUD is put in
  • cramping or backaches for a few days after the IUD is put in
  • spotting between periods
  • irregular periods
  • heavier periods and worse menstrual cramps (ParaGard)

Pain medicine can usually help with cramping. If the bleeding or cramping gets pretty bad and doesn’t seem to get better, tell your practitioner what’s going on.

IUDs don’t protect against STDs.

While IUDs are one of the best ways to prevent pregnancy, they don’t protect you from sexually transmitted infections. Luckily, using condoms every time you have sex reduces the chance of getting or spreading STDs. So the thing to do is to use condoms with your IUD

Rarely, side effects are serious.

Serious problems from IUDs are not at all common, but there are some risks and warning signs you should know about.

How much does an IUD cost?

Getting an IUD costs anywhere between $0 to $1,300. That’s a pretty wide range, but the good news is that IUDs can be free or low cost with many health insurance plans, Medicaid, and some other government programs.

Prices can also vary depending on which kind you get. The price of an IUD includes medical exams, getting the IUD put in, and follow-up visit.

Even if an IUD costs more than other methods up front, they usually end up saving you money in the long run because they last for years.

What’s an IUD insertion like?

A practitioner puts the IUD in through your vagina and into your uterus. Some people feel cramps or pain, but it doesn’t last long and over the counter medicine can help.

How is an IUD put in?

First, your practitioner will ask you some questions about your medical history. Then they’ll check your vagina, cervix, and uterus, and they may test you for STDs. You may be offered medicine to help open and/or numb your cervix before the IUD is put in.

To put the IUD in, the practitioner will put a speculum into your vagina and then use a special inserter to put the IUD in through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus. The process usually takes less than five minutes.

IUDs can be put in at any point in your menstrual cycle.

How does it feel to get an IUD put in?

People usually feel some cramping or pain when they’re getting their IUD placed. The pain can be worse for some, but luckily it only lasts for a minute or two.

You may be given pain medicine before you get the IUD to help prevent cramps. You may be injected with a  local numbing medicine around your cervix to make it more comfortable.

Some people feel dizzy during or right after the IUD is put in, and there’s a small chance of fainting. You might want to ask someone to come with you to the appointment so you don’t have to drive or go home alone, and to give yourself some time to relax afterward.

What can I expect after an IUD insertion procedure?

Many people feel perfectly fine right after they get an IUD, while others need to take it easy for a while. There can be some cramping and backaches, so plan on chilling at home after your appointment — it’s a great excuse to curl up on the couch with your favorite book or movie. Heating pads and over-the-counter pain meds can help ease cramps too.

You may have cramping and spotting after getting an IUD, but this almost always goes away within 3-6 months. Hormonal IUDs eventually make periods lighter and less crampy, and you might stop getting a period at all. On the flip side, copper IUDs may make periods heavier and cramps worse. For some people, this goes away over time. If your IUD is causing you pain, discomfort, or side effects you didn’t expect, call the office.

Once you get the IUD, a string about 1 or 2 inches long will come out of your cervix and into the top of your vagina; don’t worry, you won’t notice it. The string is there so a nurse or doctor can remove the IUD later. You can feel the string by putting your fingers in your vagina and reaching up toward your cervix. But DON’T tug on the string, because you could move your IUD out of place or pull it out.

You must come in for a follow up string check after your insertion.

There’s a very small chance that your IUD could slip out of place. It can happen any time, but it’s more common during the first 3 months. IUDs are most likely to come out during your period. Check your pads, tampons, or cups to see if it fell out. You can also check your string to make sure it’s still there. If your IUD falls out, you’re NOT protected from pregnancy, so make sure to go see your doctor, and use condoms or another kind of birth control in the meantime.

Remember when you got your IUD (or write it down somewhere), so you’ll know when it needs to be replaced. The ParaGard IUD should be replaced after 12 years. Mirena should be replaced after 7 years. Kyleena should be replaced after 5 years. Liletta should be replaced after 7 years. Skyla should be replaced after 3 years.

How soon after getting an IUD can I have sex?

You can have sex as soon as you want after getting an IUD.

You might need to use a backup method of birth control (like condoms) until the IUD starts to work — whether you’re protected against pregnancy right away depends on what type of IUD you get and when it’s put in.

A ParaGard IUD prevents pregnancy as soon as it’s in place.

Hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla) only prevent pregnancy right away IF they’re put in during the first 7 days of your period. If you get a hormonal IUD any other time during your cycle, you’re protected after 7 days. In the meantime, use condoms or another kind of birth control to prevent pregnancy.

Can I get an IUD?

Most people can use IUDs safely, but there are some conditions that make side effects or complications more likely. Talk to your practitioner to find out if IUDs are safe for you.

You may not be able to get an IUD if you

  • have certain STDs or pelvic infection
  • think you might be pregnant
  • have cervical cancer that hasn’t been treated
  • have cancer of the uterus
  • have had a pelvic infection after either childbirth or an abortion in the past 3 months

You also shouldn’t get a ParaGard IUD if you have a copper allergy, Wilson’s Disease, or a bleeding disorder that makes it hard for your blood to clot.  And you shouldn’t get a hormonal IUD if you have had breast cancer.

Very rarely, the size or shape of someone’s uterus makes it hard to place an IUD correctly.

If you have a condition that rules out an IUD for you, don’t worry. You’ve got lots of other birth control options.

What are the risks of an IUD?

There are possible risks with an IUD, but serious problems are really rare.

The IUD can sometimes slip out of the uterus — it can come all the way out or just a little bit. If this happens, you can get pregnant. If the IUD only comes out part of the way, it has to be removed.

It is possible — though extremely unlikely — to get pregnant even if the IUD is in the right spot. If you get pregnant, you should have the IUD removed as soon as you find out. If you get pregnant with an IUD in place, there’s an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy and other serious health problems.

It’s possible to get an infection if bacteria get into the uterus when the IUD is put in. If the infection isn’t treated, it may affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.

When the IUD is put in, it could push through the wall of the uterus. This sounds painful, but it usually doesn’t hurt. But if this happens, you could need surgery to remove the IUD. This is very rare.

What warning signs should I know about?

Chances are that you’ll have no problems with your IUD. But it’s still important to pay attention to your body and how you feel after you get your IUD. Here are the warning signs to watch out for. Call your nurse or doctor right away if:

  • the length of your IUD string feels shorter or longer than it was
  • you can feel the hard plastic bottom of the IUD coming out through your cervix
  • you think you might be pregnant
  • you have bad cramping, pain, or soreness in your lower belly or stomach
  • there’s pain or bleeding during sex
  • you get unexplained fever, chills, or have trouble breathing
  • your vaginal discharge is different than normal
  • you have vaginal bleeding that is heavier than usual

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has an STD, see your practitioner for any tests or treatments you may need.

Is it safe to use the IUD while breastfeeding?

Yes, it’s safe to use the IUD while you’re breastfeeding.  It shouldn’t have any effect on how much milk you produce, and it won’t hurt your baby. In fact, the IUD is a great method to use if you’re breastfeeding and you don’t want to get pregnant.