What type of birth control you get depends on your needs and your body. One of the most effective forms of birth control is the IUD, or intrauterine device. An IUD is a small t-shaped object that actually sits inside your uterus, affecting the uterine environment in a way that prevents pregnancy. There are two different types of IUDs, and there or pros and cons to each. Learn more about the two types before making your choice.
Hormone IUDs release small amounts of progesterone into the uterus. They prevent pregnancy in a way similar to hormone pills or hormone shots, but it's unique in the following ways:
- You only place it once. You don't need to take any medications or get any shots once the IUD is in place. It can last several years before it needs to be replaced with a new one.
- Hormonal IUDs have fewer side effects. Some women don't like the idea of birth control hormones because they can alter how your body feels, cause bloating, or affect your mood. Because the release of hormones is more localized, some women experience fewer side effects.
- Hormonal IUDs can stop your period completely, or reduce the severity. A few months after placement, you can experience few, if any signs of menstruation. For some women, this is a good thing, but others might prefer the monthly reassurance that pregnancy has not occurred, or they might like a sure way of tracking their cycle.
Copper IUDs are not hormonal. Instead, the copper in the device is released into the uterus, which causes mild irritation of the lining, making it inhospitable for pregnancy. Copper is also harmful to sperm, so it prevents sperm from reaching the egg to fertilize it. There are a few unique aspects of the copper IUD, including:
- Increased period flow. Women who already have heavy periods may not want to try the copper IUD, as the increased inflammation can make period bleeding more severe.
- Long lifespan. Copper IUDs are very effective. They are the most cost-effective birth control over time because they can last over a decade before they need to be replaced.
- Emergency contraception. The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception, and if it's placed soon after intercourse, is one of the most effective morning-after solutions for pregnancy prevention.
You can talk to your OBGYN about which IUD option is best for your needs.