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IUD (Intrauterine Device)

What is an IUD?

The intrauterine device (IUD) is a form of birth control that requires a visit to your physician for an examination and a prescription. It is a device placed in the uterus through the cervix by a physician. The IUD works by preventing an egg from being fertilized in the tubes or from attaching to the wall of the uterus. IUDs containing hormones must be replaced annually, while copper IUDs can last up to 10 years.

What should I expect during the procedure to insert my IUD?

A doctor or nurse inserts the IUD into your uterus. Some people experience cramps or a little pain, but it doesn't last long and medicine can help. To put the IUD in, the nurse or doctor will insert a speculum in your vagina and then use a special inserter to put the IUD through the opening of your cervix and into your uterus. The process usually takes less than five minutes.

IUDs can be inserted at any time of the month, and can usually be inserted even if a patient has just given birth or had an abortion.

Many people experience cramps or feel some pain when they're getting the IUD inserted, but many only have mild discomfort. You may be advised to take pain medicine before or after the procedure, or your physician might inject a local anesthetic to make it more comfortable.

Some patients experience dizziness after the procedure. You may want to ask someone to accompany you to the appointment.

What happens after the IUD is inserted?

The experience varies from person to person - many people feel fine right after the procedure, while others may experience cramping or discomfort.

You may also have spotting after getting an IUD, but this should go away within 3-6 months. If spotting persists, or if your IUD is causing you pain, discomfort, or other negative side effects, consult your physician.

There is a small chance that your IUD could slip out of place, which is slightly more likely to happen during the first 3 months after the insertion. Make an appointment with your physician to have the IUD re-inserted.

Your IUD will need to be replaced after a certain amount of time (between three and 12 years) after it is inserted. The amount of time varies depending on the brand, so be sure to note this fact when you have your IUD inserted.

You can have sex as soon as you want after getting an IUD, although you may need to use a backup form of birth control until the IUD starts to work, depending on the type of IUD you have. Consult your physician to find out what is best.