Everything You Need To Know About Getting An IUD

Despite enjoying huge popularity in Europe and throughout the world, the IUD hasn't gained quite as much traction among Americans. Between 2011 and 2013, just 6.4 percent of women in the United States used an intrauterine device as their preferred contraceptive of choice, despite the fact that the IUD boasts a 99 percent effectiveness rate and remains effective for between three and 12 years after a one-time insertion. 

We totally get the hesitation. The idea of having a "T-shaped" piece of plastic placed in our cervix is daunting, to say the least. But IUDs are among the most reliable, convenient forms of birth control available to women today, so learn more about it below: 

MORE: Nine Birth Control Options That Aren't The Pill

1. IUD: What Is It

How do IUDs work?

An IUD is a T-shaped, plastic device that's inserted into your cervix to prevent pregnancy. A small string attached to the end runs down through the cervix and into your vagina. There are two types of IUD available to women in the United States copper (ParaGard) and hormonal (Mirena or Skyla.)

The Copper T is made of flexible plastic wrapped in thin copper containing wire. Once the Copper T is in place, it is effective for 12 years. The copper IUD can even be used as emergency contraception if inserted within five to seven days of unprotected sex. It works by inhibiting the movement of sperm, which stops them from fertilizing the egg. If a sperm does happen to fertilize an egg, the copper prevent implantation of the fertilized egg. 

Hormonal IUDs are effective for between three and five years, depending on the type you choose. These IUDs contain a hormone found in many birth control bills: progestin. They work by keeping ovaries from releasing eggs and inhibiting sperm movement towards the egg. They also thicken the mucus in the cervix, which prevents the sperm from traveling to the ovaries, where they can fertilize eggs. 

2. IUD: Insertion

How can I get an IUD?

In order to get an IUD, you must visit a health care provider. They can help you determine if it's the right choice of contraception for you. According to Planned Parenthood, the cost can range from $0 to $1000, but it pays for protection that lasts between three and 12 years, depending on which IUD you decide upon.

An IUD may be inserted at any time of the month, but it is more comfortable to have it inserted in the middle of your menstrual cycle, because your cervix (the opening to your uterus) is most open. 

3. IUD: Will It Hurt?

Will it hurt? 

Although pain is (duh) subjective, research indicates that the discomfort of getting an IUD inserted may not be as bad as you fear. 

In a survey published by Dove Medical Press, researchers asked a group of 89 women to rate how much they expected an IUD insertion to hurt on a scale of one to 10. They expected a six. After the insertion, researchers asked them to rate how much it had hurt on the same scale. They reported a four. In other words, it probably won't hurt as much as you think it will.

After the insertion, you may experience some pain and discomfort. According to Planned Parenthood, some women experience cramping, backaches and spotting in the days following the insertion. With hormonal IUDs, you will likely experience lighter, shorter and more irregular periods during the first three to six months. With the copper IUD, you may experience increased menstrual bleeding and cramps. 


4. IUD: Will I Feel It?

Will it affect my sex life? 

Some women fear that their partner will be able to feel their IUD during intercourse. However, as Bedsider notes, the average vagina measures about six inches, and the cervix — where the IUD is inserted — lies at the very top. It is very unlikely that your partner will be able to feel it during sex.

Remember that IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, so you must take the appropriate precautions with your partner. 

5. IUD: Can You Take It Out?

Can you take it out? If you decide you want to change your birth control or if you want to become pregnant, you can have your IUD removed by a healthcare provider at any time. 

According to Parents, it takes the average young couple about four to six months to conceive after an IUD removal.