Busting myths about the IUD

Ever wondered if an IUD is for you? There are currently three types of IUD: the Mirena and Skyla are hormonal IUDs that contain progesterone, a low-dose birth control hormone. The Paragard is a copper IUD that prevents pregnancy because copper is toxic to sperm.  Dr. Luu Ireland, an obstetrician/gynecologist and fellow in Family Planning at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, answers common questions and concerns about the risks of using an IUD.

Isn’t it bad to have something in my body for a long time?

Dr. Ireland says no, unless you have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) at the time of insertion, which can increase the risk of infection with an IUD.

Will using an IUD affect my ability to get pregnant in the future?

Dr. Ireland says that there are no lasting effects on fertility – once you take out the IUD, fertility is restored.

I hear you stop getting periods with the hormonal IUD. Isn’t this bad for you?

According to Dr. Ireland, this happens in about 30% of the cases of those who have a hormonal IUD, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. She suggests that if you like to have a monthly period and feel more comfortable knowing that your cycle hasn’t been disrupted, the copper IUD may be a better option.

Do IUDs cause blood clots?

Dr. Ireland says that neither the hormonal or copper IUDs effect the risk of developing a blood clot. She says:

“All in all, IUDs are a very safe, reliable, and hassle-free way to prevent pregnancy. It is a great option for anyone who is serious about preventing pregnancy, whether that’s for a short or long period of time. While you can have the IUD removed at any time, you can keep the Skyla hormonal IUD in place for up to 3 years, the Mirena hormonal IUD up to 5 years, and the Paragard copper IUD for up to 12 years. There are no pills to remember, no patch to change, and no appointments for shots to rush to. It just keeps on working until you are ready to have it removed.”

However, Dr. Ireland does caution that while IUDs are a very effective method of birth control, they do not prevent sexually transmitted infections. She recommends the use of condoms when women are concerned about STI protection.

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