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All about IUD birth control

Stephanie Taylor Christensen writes about personal finance, small business, and consumer issues. She is the founder of Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga and Toning in Columbus, OH and Wellness On Less, a site dedicated to prioritized living and c...

Your guide to IUD birth control

If you’re still searching for a birth control method that is effective, inexpensive and requires little effort, IUD birth control may be the choice for you. Not familiar with what it is, or how it works? Here’s your "all about IUD birth control" guide.

confident woman happy with her birth control

How it works

IUD is short for intrauterine device. It's a small, plastic T-shaped device that a medical professional inserts into a woman's uterus, using a speculum, in an in-office procedure. In the United States, there are two IUD brands available: ParaGard and Mirena. ParaGard is a hormone-free option that works by releasing copper into the system, and can stay in place for up to 10 years. Mirena releases the hormone progestin into the system, and can be left for up to five years. There is no evidence that one is more beneficial or effective than the other, so the real choice comes down to your personal wishes, body and needs. No matter what brand you choose, both prevent pregnancy by preventing sperm from joining with an egg, and by altering the lining of the uterus.

It's effective and inexpensive

According to Planned Parenthood, IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control available. Fewer than one out of 100 women with an IUD will get pregnant each year, regardless of the brand. From a long-term birth control standpoint, IUDs are also one of the most affordable options. Your insurance coverage will dictate exactly what you'll pay, but according to the American Pregnancy Association, you can expect to pay between $175.00 to $400.00 out-of-pocket. Keep in mind that once the IUD is in place, it will work for a number of years. Compared to a monthly birth control that can cost you $30 a month, you may find that it costs far less money in the long-term.

It starts quickly -- but can be undone

Though an IUD is highly effective, it's completely reversible if you want to get pregnant. Unlike many birth control methods, an IUD starts working immediately -- so there's no waiting until a certain point in your menstrual cycle or waiting an extended period of time for it to be effective. But, if you decide you're ready to start trying to get pregnant, you can start trying almost as soon as the IUD is removed by your doctor.

It's "user-friendly"

Neither you nor your partner will feel the IUD during intercourse or any activity. But though IUDs are highly effective, accidents do happen. If "slippage" occurs, it is most likely to take place within the first few months of insertion. Though you should never remove an IUD on your own, you can check for its presence by looking for the string. If you cannot find the string, or it seems longer or shorter than it was before, contact your medical provider to ensure that the IUD has not slipped out of place.

Expert tip

The National Survey of Family Growth Study in 2011 revealed that more than 80 percent of women using IUDs indicated they were satisfied with the method.

Related reading

Benefits of an IUD
What's the right birth control option for me?

Common birth control misconceptions

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