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When you’re researching birth control options, you might be a little confused to discover that the most medically- and cost-effective form of contraception, an intrauterine device or IUD, seems considerably less popular than the pill. With one insertion, a more than 99% effectiveness rate and a lifespan of up to 10 years, why aren’t more people using an IUD?

Dr. Garritano explains, “Unfortunately, in the 1970s, American women were subjected to a horribly designed device called the Daikon Shield that increased pelvic infections in users and resulted in at least 16 deaths and injured over 200,000 women. IUD use in the US plummeted to below 1%.”

Today, she says, “Modern IUDs are simple, T-shaped devices that are much easier to place and monitor over the device’s long lifespan and use single-filament tethers. Placement protocols have improved, further reducing the risk of infection.”

How does an IUD work?

IUDs work by introducing a new variable (the device and its copper or hormone-treated components) into the uterine environment. The cervical mucus is changed by these elements, decreasing the chances of any sperm surviving and traveling in the uterus to fertilize an egg or stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

How easy is an IUD?

Unlike birth control pills, IUDs don’t require the daily routine of taking pills. A hormonal IUD will be effective for about 3-5 years and a copper IUD will last about 10 years. Dr. Garritano will check your IUD at your annual exams.

How is an IUD inserted?

As long as you are not pregnant, an IUD can be placed at any time during your menstrual cycle. Dr. Garritano will perform an internal exam to check your vagina, cervix and uterus. Blood may be drawn to test for any infections or sexually transmitted infections. You will be prescribed antibiotics to take before and after the placement.

You’ll prepare and position yourself much like for an annual exam. You’ll receive premedication and may request a cervical block to minimize discomfort. Dr. Garritano will insert a speculum and then insert the IUD into your uterus. The actual insertion takes about 5-10 minutes.

Are there side effects?

You may experience some light cramping or spotting for several days after an IUD insertion and an over the counter pain reliever such as Motrin or ibuprofen may be recommended. A follow up appointment will be scheduled for 3-6 weeks to check placement.

What if I want to get pregnant?

IUDs are easily and immediately reversible, with a quick non-surgical procedure to safely remove the device. Since the anti-sperm properties are driven by the presence of the device in the uterus, removing the device reverses the birth control process immediately. After an examination, Dr. Garritano will typically give an all-clear to pursue pregnancy.

Does an IUD protect me from STDs too?

No. If you decide on an IUD for your birth control needs, you’ll still need to take steps to protect yourself from STDs, using a condom.

Call our office immediately if – at any time with your IUD – you experience:

  • Pain or tenderness in your lower abdomen
  • Foul-smelling or unusual discharge
  • High fever

When you want a long-term, “set it and forget it”, maximally effective birth control method, ask Dr. Garritano about the modern contraceptive options that copper and hormonal IUDs can provide. Call our office at 203-665-0900 or click here. We are always happy to help.

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