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You are here: Home - Pregnancy - Postpartum

Birth Control After Baby: IUD's

by Katlyn Joy | April 21, 2013 12:00 AM
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Most women wait at least a few weeks after the birth of baby to begin sexual activity again, but typically doctors advise you to wait until the all clear is given at the six week check up. One reason is that the topic of birth control needs to be settled before you get your groove back. Ask any woman with two children under two years of age -- you can get pregnant right away.

While most U.S. women shy away from using IUD's for birth control, doctors and groups such as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend them as a first line method for preventing pregnancy.

Common Reasons Women Reject IUD's

One major reason women don't opt for IUD's is that their doctors may not be up to speed on the devices. A government study from last year found that 30 percent of doctors doubted the safety of the contraceptive for women who had never given birth. The study which appeared in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2012, interviewed over 2000 doctors and found that 60 percent of doctors only occasionally prescribed the device for patients, citing patients' preferences. However, researchers found a connection between a lack of training on the doctors' parts and their lack of confidence in IUD safety. If a doctor hasn't received training in IUD placement and safety, he or she is less likely to recommend the method to patients.

Besides the likelihood that her physician hasn't recommended IUD's, some women also believe this form of contraception is unsafe or likely to cause infections particularly pelvic inflammatory infections which may impair future fertility. Indeed, in the 70's there were such problems linked to IUD's but that type of IUD is no longer on the market and there is no such concern with the modern versions available.

Some women also worry that IUD's may cause pain or decrease their chances of getting pregnant later. There are some side effects with IUD's as with any type of birth control, but it is unlikely to be greater than with any other type of birth control.

Also, for women who are concerned about abortive methods, the IUD is not a form of abortion. It prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg, not just implanting.

Why Women Should Consider IUD's after Baby

- Unlike barrier methods or pills, user failure is not an issue with IUD's. You don't have to worry that you didn't use it right or forgot a pill with an IUD. Once inserted, it's a no-brainer. Out of sight; out of mind with an IUD.

- IUD's are safe. Studies have shown that the instances of serious side effects such as pelvic infection or pelvic inflammatory disease or PID, or ectopic pregnancy are rare. Such occurrences were seen in less than one percent of users.

- It's easy to have placed. The process of having an IUD placed is neither painful nor an involved procedure.

- It can last up to ten years.

- It's highly reliable. Indeed, it's nearly the same success rate as sterilization. It has a fewer than 1 percent failure rate.

- You can have it removed whenever you decide to. You will be fertile again without delay.

- It may significantly cut your risk of cervical cancer according to a recent study.

What Is An IUD

An IUD or  intrauterine device is a small plastic device which is implanted into a woman's uterus in order to prevent pregnancy. There are two basic types; a copper one and a hormonal one that uses progestin to prevent pregnancy.

Both types are T-shaped and roughly the size of a quarter. IUD's have a string or thread on the end, much like a tampon so that a woman can be certain it is in place as well as to help her health care provider remove the device when desired.

The hormone type, or Mirena, lasts up to five years. The copper type or Paraguard, lasts for up to ten years.

How Is an IUD Placed

Typically an IUD is inserted by a doctor in the office, usually taking only about 5 minutes. Your doctor will insert it through the vagina and cervix into the uterus. It is usually only mildly uncomfortable, such as with a PAP test. You can take a pain reliever before your appointment to cut down on the discomfort. Also, since your cervix is more open during your period, you may want to schedule your appointment for near the end of your menstrual cycle.

IUD Side Effects

The side effects of IUD's are mild. With the copper type, you may have more bleeding and cramping at least in the first few months of use. The hormonal type of IUD is associated with lighter periods, however.

Who Should Not Use IUD's

IUD's are not appropriate for pregnant women, women who are allergic to copper (however Mirena would be OK for such women,) have unusually small uteruses, have an artificial heart valve, at higher risk for STD's, have a recent history of PID, or have gynecological cancer needing treatment.


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