Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 29, 2021

A Quick Introduction to the Intrauterine Device (IUD) - The T-Shaped Coil Used for Preventing Pregnancies

Thanks to modern technology, we now have better methods for family planning, preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), improved sexual health, etc. Contraceptive technology has come a long way as well. From the early days of the Egyptian ‘pessary’, to the modern-day use of birth control pills, contraceptive methods have evolved and become more effective over the years. And as the days go by, we’re sure to see more innovative ways of emergency contraception and preventing pregnancy.

One of the more modern methods of contraception is achieved using something called the intrauterine device (IUD). And although it has existed since the 1950s, a lot of improvements have been made to this device throughout the years. At present, the IUD is perhaps the most effective way of preventing pregnancy. Thus, we deserve to know more about this rather peculiar-looking device.

What is an Intrauterine device (IUD)?

An IUD (intrauterine device) - also known as IUCD or ICD (intrauterine contraceptive device) - is a small T-shaped coil. It’s a birth control device that’s put inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

Generally, IUDs can be divided into two distinct types - hormonal, and hormone-free or paragard. The hormonal IUD contains the same hormone used in various birth control pills. These devices are preferable if you have heavy periods.

The hormone-free paragard (often known as ‘copper T IUD’) is, as the name suggests, free of hormones. Instead, the copper coil is the thing that triggers the immune response to prevent pregnancy. Apart from the presence of hormones, there’s another major difference between the two types of IUDs. Hormonal IUDs make periods lighter. They might even help make them disappear completely. Paragards, on the other hand, make periods heavier.

How does it work?

Hormonal IUDs are lined with progestin (a synthetic version of progestogen). This hormone, when comes in contact with the uterus, manages to thicken the cervical mucus. It also thins the uterine lining. As a result, the sperm fails to fertilize the egg, and pregnancy is prevented.

Non-hormonal IUDs (paragards) don’t have any hormone linings. They simply change the way sperm cells move and make it difficult for a fertilized egg to be implanted in the uterus.

Who should use an IUD?

IUDs can be used by women of all ages and professions. Women who’ve had an abortion or miscarriage can use IUDs as well, as long as they don’t have any known infection. Breastfeeding women can also use IUDs without having the devices interfere with the feeding process.

You can even use IUD as an emergency contraception method. Time is of the essence in this case. You can visit this link for more information on contraception and how IUD is used as emergency contraception.

Benefits of using an IUD

As far as contraceptives go, an IUD is the most beneficial one of them all. It offers a lot of advantages to the users, some of which are discussed below.

  • IUDs are 99% effective, meaning that it pretty much guarantees successful prevention of pregnancy. This makes the IUD the most effective form of birth control out there.
  • You can use the device for up to 10 years. If you want, you can replace it any time in between.
  • Hormonal IUDs start their work the moment they’re inserted into the uterus.
  • IUDs don’t interfere with sexual intercourse.
  • IUDs don’t interfere with any type of medication.
  • Lactating women can also use IUDs.
  • IUDs are not known for causing any sort of mood swings or weight gain.
  • IUDs won’t affect your sexual drive in any way.

Another major advantage of IUDs is that these devices are perfect for women who’re not allowed to use estrogen-based contraceptive pills. Hence, if any woman has a history of stroke, arterial disease, diabetes, etc. they too can use IUDs safely.

Possible risks and side-effects from using an IUD

While IUDs are almost a hundred percent effective in preventing pregnancies, there are certain risks and side-effects associated with using them. A few of these risks and side effects are pointed out below.

  • Non-hormonal IUDs can lead to heavier or longer periods. The cramps are likely to feel a lot worse when using a paragard.
  • During the initial insertion of the paragard, you’re likely to experience cramping or backaches for a couple of days.
  • You might have allergic reactions to metal.
  • You might experience slight pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Hormonal IUDs can lead to depression in some women.

We hope this information comes in handy to avoid unwanted pregnancies. We would advise women to consult medical professionals if they have any questions regarding IUD devices, or any other forms of contraceptives.

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