I U what?
By Chloe Jordon
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are a long acting and reversible method of contraception that offer 99% effectiveness in preventing pregnancy and have the longest lifespan of any contraceptive. An IUD is a little T-bar that sits in your uterus that works by creating an unwelcoming environment for sperm and making it extremely difficult for one to fertilise your egg. Should a sneaky sperm be successful in completing its mission the IUD has a back-up plan as it also alters the lining of the uterus. This makes it almost impossible for a fertilised egg to implant in your uterus and make you pregnant.
When it comes to IUD’s you have two choices. A copper IUD is non-hormonal and can last for up to 10 years (depending on which model you get). The great thing about it is that there are no hormonal side effects such as acne, breast tenderness, mood swings or weight or sex drive changes. It can result in heavier periods for some people and is therefore not recommended if you already have a pretty intense monthly flow. The copper IUD is effective immediately and can also be used as emergency contraception up to 7 days after unprotected sex.
The other option is the hormonal IUD, which is sold in Australia as the Mirena. It works by consistently and slowly releasing levonorgestrel which is also used in emergency contraception and some birth control pills. Because the Mirena is situated exactly where the hormones are needed it releases significantly less levonorgestrel then other hormonal birth control methods. As a result, only 5% of users experience hormonal side effects such as acne, mood swings and weight gain. It also thins the lining of the uterus not only making it less viable for pregnancy but also makes periods lighter, which is great for our sisters with a heavy flow. Depending on which model you get it can last 3-5 years. Unless inserted in the first six days following the start of your period, the hormonal IUD takes seven days to take effect.
With both options, if you decide you want to try and get pregnant you can get the IUD taken out by a doctor at any time and your fertility will return almost immediately. Implications from IUD use are rare however, it is important to note that like most contraceptives they do not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
If the IUD sounds like it will work for you then talk to your doctor about getting an insertion. Make sure to read our real life experience article with the IUD procedure and how to become besties with your IUD to make sure it can be as effective as poss.