The Intrauterine Device
What are IUD’s?
An IUDs is a device used to prevent a woman from getting pregnant. They are small, plastic,
and contain copper or a hormone. The two most common types of IUDs are the ParaGard®
(Copper T) and the Levonorgestoral secretory (Mirena®). The Copper T is a T-shaped device
that is wrapped with copper. It will last for ten years. The Mirena® is a hormone IUD that will
slowly release the hormone progesterone. It will last for five years.
Copper-T 380 (ParaGard) Levonorgestoral secretory (Mirena)
Approved in 1984 Approved in 2000
How do IUDs work?
IUDs work by preventing fertilization of an egg. IUDs change the lining of the uterus in ways
that stop a woman from getting pregnant. The Mirena® IUD may also suppress the release of an
egg. The Mirena® IUD is also used for treatment of heavy and long periods.
How well do IUDs work?
With normal use, the IUD has a success rate of 99%. The Mirena® IUD is effective for up to 5
years. The ParaGard® IUD is effective for up to 10 years. It starts working as soon as it is put
in. Careful monthly checking for the IUD strings is vital. You should call your clinic if the
string is missing or if it is longer than before.
How is an IUD put in?
An IUD must be prescribed and placed by a health care provider. This is often done during a
woman’s period when she is not likely to be pregnant. The cervix is also softer at this time. It
can be put in anytime if the woman is known not to be pregnant. An IUD can also be placed 6
weeks after giving birth. It is safe in women who breastfeed. There may be some cramping
when it is put in and for a few days after. Ibuprofen (Advil®) 600 mg can be taken every 4-6
hours as needed. A heating pad help ease the cramps.
Who should not use IUDs?
The IUD works well for most women, but there are times when an IUD should not be used.
ξ Women who are pregnant.
ξ Women with unexplained vaginal bleeding.
ξ Women with infections such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, or cervicitis.
ξ Women who have an active, recent, or frequent pelvic infections.
ξ Women who have uterine problems such as fibroids that can change the uterus.
ξ Women with known or suspected cancer of the uterus or cervix.
ξ Women with breast cancer
Possible Side Effects
ξ Spotting between periods.
ξ Stronger menstrual cramps
ξ Increased periods that may last longer
ξ Increased mucous vaginal discharge (no foul odor or unusual color)
ξ Irregular vaginal bleeding or spotting which most often goes away after the first 3-6 months
ξ May shorten, lighten. or stop periods
Possible Problems while Using the IUD
ξ Expulsion (Falling out). From 1-7% of IUDs are expelled completely or part way from the
uterus the first year, often in the first few months after they are placed. This is more likely to
happen in women who have never had a baby. If you do not feel the strings or feel the
strings are longer, please call. A follow-up visit should occur within a few months of
ξ Infection. A cervical or uterine infection can be worsened at the time of IUD placement.
After that time, if a women and her partner have sex only with each other, there is no greater
risk of infection.
ξ Perforation. Rarely, the IUD may puncture the wall of the uterus. This may happen when it
is put in. In such cases, surgery may be required to remove the IUD.
As with all prescribed methods of birth control, there are warning signs that may occur that you
should be aware of. If any of these things occur, contact your health care provider right away.
P – Period late, abnormal spotting or bleeding
A – Abdominal pain, pain with intercourse
I – Infection exposure (any STD), abnormal discharge
N – Not feeling well, unexplained fever or chills
S – String missing, shorter, or longer
ξ The IUD can be removed at any time.
ξ Having an IUD removed is a simple matter done by your health care provider.
ξ Fertility is restored right after it is removed. Unless you want to get pregnant, another form
of birth control should be used.
ξ The IUD can be replaced with a new one. This can be done at the same time as the other one
ξ Women should never try to remove IUDs themselves or ask a nonprofessional to do it.
Serious damage could result.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 6/2016 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#5499