An Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small contraceptive T shape device that is inserted in the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are 2 types of IUDs, viz copper and hormonal. In the former type a copper wire is wrapped around the device while the latter releases hormone for protection. Here we shall discuss about hormonal IUD
What is a hormonal IUD?
The T shaped device that is inserted in the uterus releases the hormone progestin which forms the basis for contraception. The IUD device has a membranous coating that controls release of the hormone and a string is attached at one end for the purpose of easy removal of the device.
Mirena (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) is the most commonly used hormonal IUD and offers protection for at least 5 long years.
How does it work?
Since it’s a contraceptive device, it uses several mechanisms to prevent pregnancy. Progestin thickens the cervical mucus, which blocks the sperms from coming in contact with the eggs. This way fertilization is prevented. Another approach is- the hormone progestin suppresses release of eggs from the ovaries.
How to get a hormonal IUD inserted?
You need to visit your health care provider to get the hormonal IUD device inserted in the uterus. The insertion procedure takes only few minutes and it may or may not be done under local anaesthesia.
How long does it take to become effective?
It takes about 7 days to become fully functional. Therefore, for at least one week, doctors advise to use additional protection (condoms) to avert pregnancy.
What’s the success rate of hormonal IUD?
Hormonal IUD is one of the most successful techniques of contraception. Out of 100 women, less than 1 can get pregnant. Furthermore, it’s also easy to get pregnant after removal of the device.
When hormonal IUD is not used?
Not every woman is the right candidate for having hormonal IUD inserted. It’s not used if you:
- Are planning for pregnancy or if you are pregnant.
- Have cancer in breast, cervix or uterus
- Are suffering from liver disease, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease
- Have unexplained vaginal bleeding or vaginal infections
- Are at high risk of having STDs for having multiple sexual partners
Other health issues that your doctor might consider before inserting hormonal IUD are congenital heart or valve disease, diabetes or if you had previously encountered a problem with IUD
What are the advantages of hormonal IUD?
- It is easy to insert, effective, safe and cost effective over the time (5 years of protection).
- Women don’t have to worry about using birth control pills or condoms during intercourse
- The hormone progestin reduces heavy menstrual bleeding and cramping
- It can be used safely during breast feeding
- It can be removed easily and after removal you regain normal level of fertility
Disadvantages of hormonal IUDs
- It can give rise to benign growths is the ovary (ovarian cysts), but they are quite likely to go away on their own
- Progestin can have side effects in the body which include mood swings, headaches, acne, breast tenderness, etc.
- Bleeding and spotting can occur during the first few months
- It doesn’t offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases
- There’s a small chance of uterus perforation and pelvic infection while insertion
It’s important to listen to your doctor’s advice after you have worn the hormonal IUD device. You might need to go for follow up visits initially to ensure that the device is in right place. Make sure you call your doctor immediately on experiencing any health complication.
Date last updated: January 29, 2015