Intra-uterine device

What is an intra-uterine device (IUD)?
How does an IUD work?

Who can use an IUD?

How do I use the IUD?

What are the advantages, possible side effects and complications of the IUD?

Remember

What is an intra-uterine device (IUD)?

The IUD is a method of birth control inside the uterus (intra-uterine). The IUD is a small T-shaped plastic device with a copper wire around it. The IUD must be inserted by a health care professional (HCP). It can stay in place for five years before needing to be changed. The IUD is 99.4 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy.

How does an IUD work?

The IUD primarily prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. It impairs sperm function.

Who can use an IUD?

All women who are seeking a reliable and reversible method of birth control that requires little attention can use an IUD. Also, the IUD may be a good option for women who are unable to take estrogen or women who are breastfeeding.

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How do I use the IUD?

An IUD must be inserted by a HCP

  • A first visit and pelvic (internal) exam is needed before the IUD can be inserted to make sure there is no infection in the vagina and the cervix. The doctor will then give you a prescription for your IUD, which you can get at a pharmacy
  • The IUD can be inserted at any time during your cycle provided pregnancy is ruled out
  • Check the IUD strings before sex and after each period. If you feel the plastic part of the IUD or if the strings are absent, use another method of birth control until you can see your HCP
  • A follow-up visit should be arranged four to six weeks and yearly after the IUD has been inserted to assess infection and bleeding. Seek care sooner if you have these symptoms: late period or no period, abdominal pain, fever, chills, increased or foul smelling discharge, spotting, heavy bleeding or clots with your period
  • Never attempt to remove an IUD yourself

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What are the advantages, possible side effects and complications of the IUD?

Advantages

  • Long-lasting method of birth control
  • Other method of birth control for women who cannot or do not want to take hormonal methods of birth control
  • Does not affect breastfeeding
  • Reduces the risk of endometrial cancer

Side effects and complications

  • Pain and bleeding after insertion
  • Irregular bleeding
  • Heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Painful periods, maybe longer periods

Possible complications for IUD

  • If a pelvic infection is present, its progression can be more severe and can lead to infertility
  • Uterine perforation (tear in the uterus)
  • Risk of expulsion (IUD can come out)

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Remember

  • The IUD does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV; use condoms to lower your risk
  • Call the AIDS & Sexual Health Info Line at 613-563-2437 if you have questions or need help
  • For more information on IUDs, please consult this Web site: www.sexualityandu.ca

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