Intrauterine Device (IUD)

What is it?

A small T-shaped plastic device that is wrapped in copper wire. The copper changes the environment of the uterus so that it is hostile to sperm. It does not harm the uterus or any other part of your body and does not affect ovulation. The IUD is inserted into your uterus by a healthcare professional. Attached to the IUD are two-inch-long threads that hang down through the cervix (the opening to the uterus) and into the top of the vagina.

How do you use it?

An IUD must be inserted by a healthcare professional. It is put into your uterus and the strings are cut just below your cervix.  Check the strings after each period. If you can feel the plastic part or the strings are missing, use another form of birth control such as condoms and spermicide until you can see your doctor. Never attempt to remove the IUD yourself. Period-like cramping and spotting are common within the first 3 months of insertion. An intrauterine device also be used as an emergency method of birth control for up to 5 to 8 days after unprotected vaginal intercourse. It can then stay in the uterus and be used as a form of contraception after using the IUD as a form of emergency contraception.

Where can you get it?

You can often have it inserted by a healthcare professional at a walk-in clinic, community health center, or the Sexual Health Centre. If you have a family doctor you can ask them if they have inserted many IUDs before, and if they are able to insert one for you.

How much does it cost?

A copper IUD costs $75- $150 at a pharmacy. It can also be bought for a reduced price at the Sexual Health at 179 Clarence Street.

How effective is it?

Copper IUDs are 98% effective in preventing pregnancy. When used as a form of emergency contraception, and inserted within 7 days of the sex act you are worried about, copper IUD’s are 95% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Does it reduce the risk of STIs?

No. It does not reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections.

Reasons someone might choose this method of birth control

  • Very effective in preventing pregnancy
  • One of the least expensive methods of birth control over time.
  • The copper IUD is a good alternative if you are unable or do not want to take hormones
  • You don’t have to remember to do anything for the length of time that you have the IUD

Reasons someone might not choose this method of birth control

  • The copper IUD can cause increased menstrual bleeding and cramping.
  • Cramping and discomfort during the first 24-48 hours after insertion is common
  • In rare (6.7%) cases, the intrauterine device can fall out.

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