Quick facts: What you need to know about IUDs

Quick facts: What you need to know about IUDs

Medically reviewed by Mary Jane Minkin, MD

Women today have more options than ever when it comes to birth control. One such option is the intrauterine device, better known as an IUD. But how do you know if an IUD is right for you? Talk to your healthcare professional (HCP) about your options. In the meantime, here’s the scoop on IUDs.

What is an IUD?

An IUD is a small T-shaped plastic device that is inserted into the uterus by a healthcare professional. An IUD is considered long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), which means you don’t have to worry about birth control on a daily basis. But she won’t stop you from getting pregnant once it’s removed. IUDs do not protect you from STDs, so you will need to use condoms for that protection.

There are two different types of IUDs:

  • Hormonal IUDs release a man-made version of the hormone progesterone, which is called progestin. Progestin makes the mucus in your uterus thicker to prevent sperm from fertilizing an egg, and it can prevent you from ovulating (releasing an egg).
  • Hormone-free IUD have a coil of copper wire wrapped around them. Copper causes an inflammatory reaction, which is toxic to sperm and prevents it from entering the uterus.

Who are good candidates for IUDs?

Many premenopausal women can safely use IUDs for contraception. Also, women who have severe menstrual bleeding and cramping or who have fibroid pain are sometimes prescribed hormonal IUDs because the progestin can help with these symptoms.

Always discuss this with your doctor, but in general you should do not use a hormonal IUD if you have or have had certain health conditions. These include:

  • Breast, uterine or cervical cancer
  • Liver disease
  • Migraine disease
  • A history of blood clots
  • Pelvic infections or unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Heart conditions
  • If you have recently given birth
  • If you have already had an IUD and your body has expelled it

People with a copper allergy shouldn’t use the non-hormonal IUD.

Does getting an IUD hurt?

The IUD insertion process is quick, but can be painful. How much it hurts to insert the IUD can vary from person to person. Typically, people who receive an IUD are told to take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin ahead of time to prevent cramping or later to relieve pain. But local anesthetics or topical freezing can also help with pain during insertion. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare professional about your options before the procedure, and insist on getting help if you think you want something for the pain.

Can you have sex with an IUD?

Yes, and one of the benefits of having an IUD is that sex doesn’t have to be interrupted for contraception.

There is a recommended waiting period of 24 hours after inserting your IUD to prevent infection. This is because the IUD procedure it involves your healthcare provider using surgical instruments as they pass the IUD through the vagina and cervix and into the uterus. The procedure can temporarily irritate the lining of the reproductive system. If you have sex too early, you may develop Pelvic inflammatory disease. After that waiting period, you can have sex anytime.

Can you get pregnant if you have an IUD?

Getting pregnant with an IUD is rare, but it can happen: IUDs are over 99% effective.

How long do IUDs stay on?

A hormonal IUD can stay in place for up to eight years, depending on the brand. A hormone-free IUD can stay in place for up to 10 years.

Do IUDs stop menstruation?

Sometimes. A hormonal IUD can slow menstrual bleeding a few months after insertion or make your periods irregular. Around 1 out of 5 women they stop having periods after taking a hormonal IUD. Non-hormonal IUDs typically do not affect the menstrual cycle.

Are there any side effects of IUDs?

There may be. For hormonal IUDs, side effects can include:

  • Heachache
  • Adult acne
  • Breast tenderness
  • The mood changes
  • Cramps or pain around the pelvis

Side effects of hormone-free IUDs can include:

  • Bleeding between periods
  • Ache
  • Heavy periods

How much do IUDs cost and are they covered by insurance?

IUDs can cost more than $1,300 out of pocket. However, many insurance plans cover IUDs at little or no cost. Check your coverage and talk to your (HCP) for more information.


This resource was created with support from Organon and Co. and Sebela Women’s Health, Inc.

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