IUDs are small, bendable implants shaped like a T that are put inside a woman’s uterus. There are two kinds of IUDs in the US: the copper IUD and hormone IUD. The copper IUD is wrapped with coils that put small amounts of copper into the uterus, which harms sperm, and can be left in place for up to 10 years. The hormone IUD has progestin, a man-made hormone that thickens the cervical mucus to keep sperm from going into the uterus. It also changes the inside of the uterus so that menstrual bleeding is lighter. Hormone IUDs can be used for up to 5 years. Most women with a hormone IUD do not bleed as much with their periods and have fewer cramps after the first few months. IUDs must be put in and taken out by a doctor or nurse practitioner. IUDs do not keep you from getting infections that are passed from one person to another during sex.
CANDIDATES FOR THE IUD
Before 2005, IUDs were used mainly by women who had at least one child, had no history of pelvic infections and who had a sexual relationship with just one partner. In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration said using the copper IUD was okay for women who had never had a child and who had more than one sexual partner. In 2012, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said that both IUDs could be used by teens, unless the teen had a pelvic infection in the past. This makes IUDs a good form of birth control for many more women.
CONTRAINDICATION FOR THE USE OF THE IUD
The US Centers for Disease Control has rules for birth control called Medical Eligibility Criteria (CDC MEC). These rules look at different diseases and health conditions and the kinds of birth control that can be used with them. If an IUD can be used by women with a certain disease without problems, then it is a Category 1. For example, obesity (being overweight) is a Category 1 condition, so IUDs can be used by obese women.
A Category 2 condition is when the IUD can be used, but a health care provider should follow the woman more closely. Examples of Category 2 problems are diabetes and emphysema.
Category 3 is a condition where an IUD generally would not be recommended, and a health care provider should carefully consider other options.
Category 4 is a disease or problem that an IUD cannot be used with, such as in women with an active pelvic infection.
Both the copper and hormone IUDs are listed in Category 1 or 2 for most health conditions.