HOW does an IUD WORK?: An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small appliance (they come in many different shapes). All of them have a string attached to them that hangs down into the vagina (so the woman can tell the IUD is in place and the doctor can more easily remove it). They are embedded in the wall of the uterus and prevent the fertilization of the egg. In rare cases when the egg does get fertilized, the IUD prevents it from implanting in the uterus. (If the egg can't implant there cannot be a pregnancy.)
HOW IS an IUD USED? A medical examination is needed to check the uterus and insert the IUD. Although it is a long term form of birth control, it cannot stay in the uterus forever. Different types of IUDs must be replaced at certain intervals (some as frequently as every year, some every 8 years).
Benefits to using an IUD: Because the IUD is inside the uterus, using one as a method of birth control does not interrupt sex. (Most women who have used it successfully say that after it is inserted, they don't even think about it.) Certain types of IUDs may decrease menstrual cramps.
Concerns connected to an IUD: There are many health concerns related to using an IUD. They may increase the risk of infection of the Fallopian tubes (the passage way through which an egg is released each month). This type of infection can lead to infertility (the inability to ever become pregnant). Risk for this kind of infection is highest in women who have more than one sexual partner. Also some women have more bleeding or cramping with their periods when they use an IUD. IUDs may slip out of place. Sometimes IUDs cause infections or they can make a hole in the wall of the uterus. If the user becomes pregnant problems can arise. Call a clinic or your doctor right away if you have an IUD and you:
IUDs offer zero protection against STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases).
Effectiveness. When inserted properly IUDs offer a 99% effectiveness rating. That means in a year, for every 100 women using an IUD, 1 of them will get pregnant.
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