IUD (intrauterine device)
IUD stands for intrauterine device. It’s very small, T-shaped, and is made of either plastic wrapped in copper wire (the brand name is Paraguard Copper T®) or just plastic (the brand name is Mirena®). Both versions have two small strings 1-2 inches long that hang down from the cervix.
Inserted into the womb by a doctor, the IUD is left in for one to 10 years, depending on the type used, and offers excellent pregnancy protection during that time. IUDs can also be inserted on a very limited basis as emergency contraception, but with more restriction than Plan B.
IUDs stop the sperm and the egg from meeting. The copper in the Paraguard Copper T® basically turns the uterus into an unfriendly environment for sperm. The Mirena® IUD releases the hormone progestin which stops the sperm from getting to an egg. It may stop a woman’s body from releasing an egg (ovulation).
How to use an IUD
IUDs have to be put in the uterus by a doctor or health care provider. Before he/she puts it in, the doctor will perform a pelvic exam, STI screening and pregnancy test. If he/she finds anything unusual or concerning during the exam, it will be treated before putting in the IUD. The Paraguard Copper T® IUD needs to be replaced every 10 years, and the Mirena® IUD every 5 years.