Sex is a normal, healthy part of your life. But not every woman wants to become pregnant. That’s why many types of contraceptives exist. All work toward the same goal, but they each get there in a different way.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) have been around since the beginning of the 20th century, and they’re still proving a reliable source of birth control to this day.
Currently, IUDs are small, T-shaped, plastic appliances placed inside the uterus. One type releases progestin, a hormone, which prevents ovulation just like the oral “pill.” The other type is wrapped in copper, preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg.
At the OB/GYN practice of Dr. Hany H Ahmed in Houston, Texas, we can tailor the type of birth control you use to your personal lifestyle and physical needs.
Among the many types of birth control we offer, the IUD remains an easy, dependable, and effective method to prevent pregnancy. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of this device.
IUDs — a brief history
The first documentation of IUDs for humans came in 1909, when Dr. Richard Richter reported inserting a ring made of silkworm gut into the uterus. He cut off the two ends just outside of the cervix, which made checking and removal easier.
A 1920s version expanded on the concept, with a pregnancy rate reported at 3%. Many new versions have come on the market since then to increase effectiveness and decrease serious side effects, such as infections.
Types of IUDs
Today, two versions of IUDs are available, one containing hormones and one containing copper. Hormonal IUDs release progestin, a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone. It thickens mucus in the cervix, making it nearly impossible for sperm to reach the egg.
Progestin also thins the uterine lining, making it difficult for an egg to implant in the event sperm manage to reach the egg.
Copper IUDs don’t contain hormones. Instead, the copper:
- Damages sperm, preventing them from reaching the egg
- Creates an immune response that prevents development of healthy eggs
- Destroys eggs that do develop
In the United States, Paragard® is the FDA-approved brand of copper IUD, originally introduced in 1988. It starts working immediately, so it’s useful when emergency contraception is required.
5 benefits of an IUD
How IUDs work differs between types, but both hormonal and copper IUDs have the same five basic benefits.
Hormonal varieties of IUDs last 3-6 years, while copper varieties can last 10 years or more.
Hormonal and copper IUDs both boast 99% effectiveness rates.
More regular periods
Both hormonal and copper IUDs decrease menstrual pain and bleeding.
Hormonal IUDs are good for women who can’t take estrogen or who have migraines. Copper is good for women with hormone intolerance.
Both types of IUDs can easily be removed if you choose to get pregnant.
In addition, once the IUD is inserted, you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day or use a condom. And for women who have severe health conditions that make pregnancy dangerous, an IUD ensures safe sex without unwanted complications.
A study performed in 2011 found that IUDs, when compared with other reversible forms of contraception, had a high satisfaction rate. Nearly 90% of the participants continued with their hormonal IUD after 12 months, while 84% of the women with copper IUDs chose to continue.
If you’re looking for an effective form of birth control that’s easy, safe, and effective, an IUD may be the right choice for you. Give Dr. Ahmed a call at 713-489-3348 to set up a consultation to discuss your options, or book your appointment online today.