IUD (Intrauterine Device)
The IUD is a little, t-shaped piece of plastic that gets put in your uterus to mess with the way sperm can move and prevent them from fertilizing an egg. Sounds odd, but it works like a charm. IUDs offer years of protection—between three and twelve, depending on the type you get. And if you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD removed at any time. In the U.S. there are five IUDs: Mirena, Paragard, Skyla, LILETTA, and Kyleena.
Types of IUDs
How to Use It
If you want to get an IUD, the first thing you'll need to do is talk with your health care provider. They will ask you a bunch of questions about your medical history and your lifestyle, then give you an exam to make sure the IUD is right for you.You can get the IUD inserted any time of the month. Some providers like to insert it during your period, but any time is fine as long as you can be sure you're not pregnant. It may be the most comfortable to get it done during the middle of your period, if you can believe that. (That's when your cervix—the opening to your uterus—is open the most.) It's pretty common to feel some cramps when you get an IUD inserted, but they'll go away with rest or pain medication. Some people might feel dizzy, too. Once the IUD is in, you'll notice a little string that hangs down into your vagina. That's there so that the IUD can be removed later. (The strings don't hang out of the vagina like a tampon, though.) After it's in, there's really not much you have to do other than check the string ends from time to time to make sure it's in place. Here's how: 1. Wash your hands, then sit or squat down. 2. Put your finger in your vagina until you touch your cervix, which will feel firm and rubbery like the tip of your nose. 3. Feel for the strings. If you find them, congrats! Your IUD is good to go. But if you feel the hard part of the IUD against your cervix, you may need to have it adjusted or replaced by your provider.
p.s. Don't tug on the strings! If you do, the IUD could move out of place.
p.p.s. If you don't feel comfortable checking for the strings, you can let your provider do that the month after insertion, and then yearly after that.
There are positive and negative things to say about each and every method. And everyone's different—so what you experience may not be the same as what your friend experiences.