Intrauterine devices

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped object that's placed inside your uterus. It prevents sperm from reaching the egg and may hinder implantation. Two types are currently available: the Copper T IUD, which can stay in place for up to 10 years, and the intrauterine system (Mirena), which can stay in your uterus for up to five years.

Availability

Procedure performed by your health care provider

How they're used

Your health care provider inserts the IUD through your cervix into your uterus. Many health care providers recommend having it done during your period. Small strings allow you to check that the device is in place. You check the strings about once a month.

Effectiveness

IUDs are 98 percent to 99.9 percent effective, meaning up to two out of 100 women who use this method as birth control for a year will become pregnant.

Issues to consider

This is a very effective long-term form of birth control that's also reversible. It can be inserted soon after delivery and is safe to use while breast-feeding. It can also be used as an emergency contraceptive if placed within seven days after unprotected sex. But it's not for everyone. Most health care providers recommend it for women who have had children, are in a mutually monogamous relationship and have no history of pelvic inflammatory disease. It's not recommended for women with STDs or a history of STDs. Some IUDs may cause increased cramping during your period and can sometimes be expelled spontaneously. They don't protect against STDs, including HIV/AIDS.

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