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Why Opt For IUDs as Birth Control

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What is IUD?

An intra-uterine device or IUD is one of the most effective birth control options out there. As the name suggests it is a device that is inserted into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. The IUD is a T shaped, tiny, flexible, plastic device.

There are basically, 2 types of IUDs: Copper IUDs or Copper T and the Hormonal IUDs.

Copper T:

The copper device is actually made of plastic but has copper wire wrapped around it. It has a fine nylon thread attached to the end. When the device is in place, the thread hangs out in the top of the vagina. This thread lets you check that the IUD is still in place by inserting your finger deep  into your vagina. It also makes it easy for a doctor or nurse to take it out. The copper in the device affects the sperm's motility so it cannot get to the egg thus preventing conception.

Hormonal IUD:

The hormonal IUD is a small device that contains synthetic progesterone, a hormone that is produced naturally in the body. A membrane coating controls the release of the hormone into the uterus. Because of the hormone the cervical mucus gets thickened which prevents the sperms from entering the uterus and meeting the eggs. Sometimes, ovulation, that is the release of egg from the ovary, is also prevented. Like the copper IUD this device too has a fine nylon thread which hangs in the vagina.
The copper device can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years while the hormonal devices work from 3 to 5 years.

Advantages of using IUD:

  • One of the main advantages of using the copper T or hormonal IUDs are that they are more than 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy. Both last for years and give effective protection. Once the device is inserted there is no more need for taking birth control pills every day or having to use other methods. Thus it is a very convenient method of family planning in married women. The best part is that you can get it removed at any time if you want to get pregnant and it will not affect your chances of conceiving after the removal.
  • Copper IUD is also the most effective of all methods for emergency contraception. If inserted within 5 days or 120 hours after unprotected sex it is almost 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. So this is a good alternative to the morning after pill. The great thing is that once it is inserted it can be left in place for really effective contraception for up to 12 years.

What can be the restriction?

  • The only downside of opting for an IUD as your birth control method is that both types need to be put in by a doctor or nurse and that it might be just a little difficult to get that service depending upon where you reside. Also there is the cost factor and the small risk of getting an infection for the first 3 weeks.
  • Sometimes, the IUD can fall out on it's own. It is therefore important to check that it is in place by inserting a finger deep into the vagina and feeling the threads. This must be done every month after your periods are over. Sometimes the threads get pulled up into the uterus so if you cannot feel the threads do not panic. An ultrasound will confirm that the device is in place.
  • More serious but rare, is the risk of the device causing a perforation in the uterus. Also, if you do happen to get pregnant, the IUD could cause complications in the pregnancy.
An important point to note is that both types of IUDs do not give protection from sexually transmissible infections (STIs). To practice safe sex then it is important to use some barrier method such as condoms, or diaphragm to decrease the risk of infections.
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