Let’s Talk About Birth Control: IUDs

Birth control can be really confusing for some folks. There has been a lot of stigma surrounding it, along with a lot of misinformation that has been spread around largely thanks to abstinence education and efforts from the more radical side of the pro-life movement (I’m looking at you, American Life League). Due to all of this lovely misinformation, a lot of women —myself included—ended up thinking that the Pill was the only decent form of female contraception. I also ended up thinking that it was not effective at all and that basically anytime you had sex, regardless of protection that you still had a high chance of getting pregnant.

Thanks, Virginia sex ed.

The great news is though, that there is more than one form of birth control for women to choose from, and quite a few of them are actually more effective than the pill and easier to use! These forms of birth control don’t require you to remember to take a pill every day either. There are several types of birth control like this, but today I’m going to be writing about my personal favorite, the IUD.

IUD stands for Intrauterine Device, sometimes called an IUC (Intrauterine Contraceptive). It is a small T-shaped device that is placed in your uterus by your doctor. IUDs work by preventing to sperm from reaching and/or fertilizing the egg. It also thickens the cervical mucus which keeps sperm from entering the uterus. If you are using a hormonal IUD, then it also thins the uterine lining (which lightens your period). One of the biggest myths about IUDs is that you can only use them if you have already had kids. This is a load of crap. If you haven’t had kids it can make inserting the device a tad bit more uncomfortable because your cervix has not expanded the way it has for women who have had children, but it can still be placed.  The super cool thing about IUDs, is that not only do you not have to remember to take a pill or change a patch, but they are over 99% effective! You can also start trying to have children if you  want as soon as they are removed.

There are two types of IUDs, hormonal and non-hormonal:

The hormonal IUD, known as Mirena, is made of a flexible plastic and contains a very small dose of progestin. Mirena is FDA approved and can also help treat heavy periods. Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to have already had children in order to use Mirena. You can leave Mirena in for up to five years, and you can start trying to conceive if you want as soon as it’s removed. The non-hormonal IUD, known as Paragard, is made of plastic and copper. It contains no hormones which is great for women who don’t want to use any kind of hormones but still want effective birth control. Paragard can also be left in for up to ten years!

Of course, as with every type of medication or medical procedure there are risks. At the risk of miswording anything, here are some links(Mirena, Paragard) so you can check out the risks, talk to your doctor, and decide whether or not using an IUD is the right choice for you. If you think that an IUD is the right birth control method for you, you can get it from your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood.

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