No need to have children
You don’t have to have had a child to use a modern IUD. They’re also fine for teens, though some providers refuse young people and so you may have to look around.
They’re also better at preventing pregnancy than the pill and condoms. Though you should still use condoms in addition to an IUD to prevent STIs if you or your partner aren’t monogamous.
Before having an IUD fitted, your doctor should check that you’re not already pregnant, or have any other contra-indications, like an STI or unexplained bleeding.
Types of IUDs
Most IUDs are coated with progesterone, last around five years, and usually lighten your periods. Other types have no hormones and instead release tiny amounts of copper. These last for around 10 years, but may cause heavier periods and spotting, especially for the first few months.
Once an IUD’s fitted, it works immediately, it doesn’t interrupt sex, and it’s not affected by other medicines. IUD also won’t increase the risk of cancer of the cervix, uterus or ovaries.
Placing an IUD
An IUD can be put in at any time during your menstrual cycle. There’s a very small chance of pelvic infection in the first few days after an IUD has been inserted, and if the IUD fails and you do become pregnant, there’s also a slightly increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy. But research shows that current IUDs have no greater risk of pelvic infection or infertility compared to other types of birth control.
An IUD is placed inside the uterus and has plastic strings which run through the cervix into the vagina. The strings are soft and shouldn’t bother you or your partner, though some people say they can feel them during sex.
You may be told to feel for the IUD strings once a month to make sure the device is still where it should be.
But IUDs are very rarely expelled, and if yours is, you’ll probably know about it. If you or your partner are experiencing discomfort when you have sex, or you have unusually heavy periods, you have any worries, go back to your doctor.
You can have an IUD removed at any time, and can then get pregnant straight away. Just don’t try to remove an IUD yourself. The procedure’s simple and quick for trained experts, but trying to do it yourself can be risky.
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