An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, t-shaped piece of plastic inserted into the uterus to provide birth control. The three brands of hormonal IUDs available are Liletta, Mirena, and Skyla.
Once placed in the uterus, this type of IUD slowly releases small amounts of the hormone progestin to stop sperm from reaching the egg. Similar to hormonal birth control pills, hormonal IUDs can also prevent ovulation, or the release of an egg from the ovary. The hormones also thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from swimming to the egg and thin the uterine lining to stop a fertilized egg from implanting.
Skyla and Liletta continue to work for up to three years. Mirena can prevent pregnancy for up to five years.
Hormonal IUDs can cause side effects similar to those of birth control pills, including:
- breast soreness
- breast tenderness
- mood changes
- weight gain
Most women experience fewer side effects with an IUD than with other firms of birth control, because most of the medication from an IUD is absorbed into the uterus rather than the bloodstream.
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ParaGard is an IUD that’s wrapped in copper wire and does not contain hormones. Once it’s in place, it works for up to 10 years.
Copper is toxic to sperm. It makes the uterus and fallopian tubes produce fluid that kills sperm. This fluid contains white blood cells, copper ions, enzymes, and prostaglandins. You may experience heavier bleeding and more cramps during your periods when using ParaGard.
Although each type of IUD protects against pregnancy for a different amount of time, they can each be removed at any time. Removal is always an option if you decide you want to get pregnant or are unhappy with the side effects. Fertility resumes almost immediately after removal of an IUD.
If you have any questions regarding birth control options, contact a healthcare professional.