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You Asked It: Is the IUD for Me?

I’m really bad at remembering to take my pill! I want something I don’t have to remember every day. I am really interested in the IUD, but my mom told me it’s not safe for women who haven’t given birth. Is that true?

That’s a great question. The IUD (or intrauterine device) is a fantastic method of birth control, and can be an especially great fit for young people on-the-go who might have trouble remembering to pop their Pill at the same time every day. The IUD is a form of birth control shaped like a T that is inserted into the uterus through the cervix. There are two types of IUDs–a hormonal version, which contains a small amount of progestin, and the non-hormonal version, which is made out of copper. Both have different side effects and advantages–the hormonal version (Mirena, Liletta, Skyla, and the brand new Kyleena) can cause spotting and irregular periods, or even no period at all, while the copper version (Paragard) may cause heavier periods. Some people prefer lighter periods, while others love having a super reliable birth control option with zero hormones. Whatever your choice, once the IUD is in your uterus, you’re all set for up to 5 years (for the hormonal IUD) or 10 years (for the copper IUD)! The IUD is one of the most reliable methods out there, with a less than one percent failure rate and no possibility of user error. Think of it as your very own little sperm scarecrow, sending out “do not enter” signals to any uterine trespassers.

Today’s IUD is a great choice for young people who have never been pregnant and aren’t ready to be! Your mom’s concerns likely come from hearing about the IUD of the 1970s and 80s. Back then, there was an IUD on the market called the Dalkon Shield that was made of materials that increased women’s risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. This very serious risk has influenced the way we view IUDs today, and the myth persists that IUDs aren’t safe for people who haven’t given birth. Inserting the IUD can be slightly more uncomfortable for people who have never been pregnant. But the new IUD is catching on with young people, and there is a smaller hormonal IUD, Skyla, which is specifically designed for those who’ve never been pregnant.

To figure out if an IUD is right for you, talk your options over with your medical provider. It’s very important to get tested for STIs before you get your IUD inserted, because insertion can raise your risk of PID if you already have an STI. An IUD is also a great, reliable method for people who have been pregnant–it can even be inserted immediately after giving birth (it doesn’t affect breastfeeding!) or having a termination. Whatever your situation, the IUD is a stellar option–the American Academy of Pediatrics even named it their #1 method of choice for teenagers!

ABOUT YOU ASKED IT

You’ve got questions.  We’ve got answers. At the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, we answer a lot of questions. Topics range from nutrition to pregnancy prevention, and everything in between. Now, we’re bringing these questions back to you with our new weekly advice column, You Asked It. Got a question? Holler at us in the comments, send us a message on Facebook or Twitter, or email us at teenhealthcareorg@gmail.com

Missed a “You Asked It” post? Click on “You Asked it” under Topics

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