IUD Intrauterine Device – Fertility Treatment

Introduction – IUD Intrauterine Device

Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) are small plastic devices which can be inserted in the uterus and allowed to remain there, in order to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are amongst the most effective alternatives available for birth control. It shows almost 99% success rate in preventing pregnancies during first year of typical use.

Types of intra uterine devices-

Two available forms of IUDs are:

  1. Copper IUD- this may last up to 10 years.
  2. Hormonal IUD- this may last up to 5 years.

Both of the types are “T” shaped.

Mechanism of IUD-

Both types of IUDs are found to avoid pregnancies by preventing egg fertilization by the sperm.

  1. The copper intra uterine devices release small quantities of copper into the uterus. 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.
  2. The hormonal intra uterine devices liberate a small quantity of progesterone hormone in the uterine cavity. This IUD prevents fertilization by damaging or killing sperm and making the mucus in the cervix thick and sticky, so sperm can’t get through to the uterus. It also keeps the lining of the uterus (endometrium) from growing very thick. This makes the lining a poor place for a fertilized egg to implant and grow. The hormones in this IUD also reduce menstrual bleeding and cramping.

Intra uterine devices are reversible, unlike sterilization technique. If the user wishes to become pregnant, IUD can be removed any time.

IUDs do not protect the user against any sexually transmitted disease.

Usage of an IUD-

IUD should be inserted and removed by a clinician only. Generally, medical history is checked for a person willing to use an IUD, along with a routine examination to check if that person may use it or not.

Women with certain infections may be advised for not using an IUD.

In some cases, the size and shape of the uterus is not compatible with the IUD.

Insertion of an IUD-

The IUD can be inserted in a long slender plastic tube. The clinician puts it into the vagina of the user and directs it to the cervix. The IUD is then pushed out of the plastic tube in to the uterine cavity. The device springs open in to the uterus and the tube can be pulled out.

Benefits of using IUDs-

  • Easy to use
  • Once fitted into the uterus, no other techniques to be followed for birth control
  • Can be inserted immediately after child birth
  • No interference with daily activities, sexual intercourse or breastfeeding
  • Reversible unlike sterilization, if a woman wishes to get pregnant, IUD should be removed.
  • Hormonal IUD helps in reducing menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.

Side effects of using IUDs-

Few women using hormonal IUD may have hormone related side effects; such as nausea, headache and breast tenderness. Cysts may be developed on the ovaries in some patients, which may cause pain. These cysts may disappear in a couple of months. Irregular or heavy bleeding and spotting is seen with hormonal use.

Heavy bleeding and pain during menstrual cycles, bleeding between periods may increase due to copper IUDs. Pain killers can be taken to relieve the pain.

Risks associated with IUD usage-

IUD may not cause serious complications very often. Though, certain issues can be noticed.

  1. IUD may get displaced from its position in the uterus and moves into the vagina.
  2. Small injury is possible during insertion of the IUD, which happens very rarely.
  3. IUD may cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID is an infection of the fallopian tubes and the uterus.
  4. Pregnancy may occur in a rare case while a woman is using an IUD. If pregnancy occurs, there is a rare possibility of ectopic pregnancy.

One should inform the clinician if the user of IUD

  1. Gets severe pelvic pain
  2. Builds fever unexplainably
  3. Feels pain during a sexual intercourse
  4. Has unusual vaginal discharge
  5. Does not feel IUD to be in its proper place
  6. Shows up signs of pregnancy like missed menstrual period

- Link of interest: Website American Fertility Association

This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.


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