When it comes to contraceptives, women have more options than ever before — the pill, the patch, the shot, and the ring to name a few. But one contraceptive has been growing in popularity year after year — and for good reason. Intrauterine devices (IUDs) provide highly effective, long-term birth control, and are low maintenance.

While they’re far from a new advancement, IUDs are experiencing a surge in popularity among women who are putting off family planning for several years and want a low-maintenance, long-acting form of birth control.

At Patel & Patel, board-certified OB/GYN Kiran Patel and board-certified family medicine physician Leela Patel and our team provide the highest level of care for women throughout all stages of their life. 

For women who aren’t planning to become pregnant just yet, we understand the importance of finding the right birth control for your lifestyle, goals, and tolerability. Of the plethora of birth control options available, one in particular has emerged as a favorite, the IUD. 

Two types of IUDs are available in the United States, hormonal and non-hormonal. Both are small, T-shaped devices that are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. These long-acting, reversible devices are inserted into the uterus where they provide protection from 3-10 years.

Non-hormonal IUDs

Both types of IUDs work the same. They prevent sperm from traveling to and fertilizing eggs. Paragard® is the non-hormonal IUD option. It’s the longest lasting reversible birth control available. When inserted it prevents pregnancy for 10 years. You’ll still have monthly periods, and you may notice heavier menses while your body adjusts to the IUD.

Paragard is made of copper, which causes an inflammatory reaction that blocks sperm. If you prefer a hormone-free, long-lasting method, this option may be right for you. 

Hormonal IUDs

Three-year and five-year hormonal IUD options are available. They release a low dose of the hormone progestin, which causes cervical mucus to thicken, creating a barrier that prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg.

Like birth control pills, hormonal IUDs can cause you to have lighter periods. Unlike birth control pills, IUDs are associated with fewer side effects.

IUDs offer a range of benefits. Here’s a few. 

They’re extremely effective

Fact is, the IUD is the most effective form of birth control available, with a failure rate below 1%. The same can’t be said for other contraceptives. Compare the effectiveness of other forms of birth control:

  • The shot: 94%
  • The ring: 91%
  • The pill: 91%
  • The patch: 91%
  • Diaphragm: 88%
  • Sponge: 88%

The IUD is as effective as tubal ligation (surgical female sterilization).

You can set it and forget it

The IUD is low maintenance. Once inserted it remains in place until you choose to have it removed. Unlike birth control bills, there’s nothing for you to remember and no regular doctor’s appointments to attend. Once it’s in place, you can forget it. 

Fertility returns rapidly

The IUD is completely reversible. When you’re ready to get to start trying to get pregnant, you can have your doctor remove the IUD. How soon can you get pregnant after removing your IUD? Fertility returns immediately upon removal of your IUD. There’s no waiting period. You can start trying to get pregnant right away.

Fewer side effects compared with oral contraceptives

Hormonal contraceptives, such as the patch, the ring, and birth control pills, are associated with more side effects than the IUD. They can exacerbate migraines and increase the risk for blood clots as well. Because IUDs contain only one hormone and release a very small amount or progestin, they cause fewer side effects.

Choosing a form of birth control is an important decision to make only after speaking with a trusted health professional about the available options and considering the advantages and drawbacks. If you’re looking for the right contraceptive for you, we’re here to help. To get started, call our team at our South Charleston, West Virginia office to schedule a visit or send your request online today

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