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Understanding the Different Types of IUDs

If you’re leaning towards long-term birth control, you’re probably considering an intrauterine device (IUD). But did you know there are several types of IUDs, each with its own set of benefits and considerations? 

At Darin Swainston MD, FACOG, in Las Vegas, Nevada, our board-certified OB/GYN providers specialize in helping women choose the right birth control option for their unique needs. Learn what you need to know about the different types of IUDs to find out which one might be right for you.  

About IUDs: An overview

There’s a reason IUDs are the most popular form of reversible contraception: it’s extremely effective. It doesn’t require any action on your part after your provider inserts it into your uterus. 

Not all IUDs are created equal. They come in two main categories—copper and hormonal. Understanding the differences between these types is key to making an empowered decision about your body and your health.

Regardless of the type, the insertion process for an IUD is the same—it's a quick procedure done at your provider's office. You might feel some discomfort or cramping during and after the procedure, but this usually subsides within a few days.

You can expect a quick follow-up visit to ensure everything is in place, and then you're set. Remember, it's normal to experience some spotting or irregular bleeding at first, but this generally improves over time. 

Copper IUDs: Non-hormonal protection

The copper IUD offers a non-hormonal method of birth control. The copper acts as a natural spermicide, effectively preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg. 

What stands out about the copper IUD is its longevity and immediate effectiveness. It can protect you for up to 10 years and starts working right away. 

If you’re hoping to steer clear of added hormones but want effective protection, copper IUDs are often an excellent choice. Plus, if you change your mind and want to start a family, you’re fertile again as soon as the device is removed. 

It's important to note that some women experience heavier periods and stronger cramps during the first few months after insertion. It's your body's way of adjusting; for most, these symptoms decrease over time.

Hormonal IUDs: Multiple options

Hormonal IUDs come in several varieties, but all release progestin into the uterus. This hormone thickens your cervical mucus, blocking sperm, and in some cases, it can also thin the lining of the uterus and suppress ovulation. 

Here’s a closer look at the two most common hormonal IUD options:

Low-dose levonorgestrel IUDs

If you’re looking for lighter periods, these IUDs can significantly reduce menstrual bleeding—some women even find their periods stop altogether. Depending on the specific type, these IUDs typically last 3-5 years.

Higher-dose levonorgestrel IUDs

If you're going for the longest possible duration of birth control, a higher-dose hormonal IUD could be for you. Lasting from 5-10 years, they offer the added benefit of reducing menstrual bleeding even more than the low-dose version.

Of course, the world of hormonal IUDs is always evolving. Newer options with different hormone doses or durations can come on the market anytime. 

For this reason, always talk to your provider at Darin Swainston, MD, FACOG, to discuss the latest options and determine what might work best for you.

Picking an IUD

Deciding on an IUD is a significant step toward taking control of your reproductive health. By learning about the different types available, you've taken the first step in making a decision that feels right for you. 

However, selecting the best IUD for your needs involves considering your health history, your future plans for children, and how your body has responded to birth control in the past. It's a personal decision, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer. 

The best approach is to have an open conversation with your Darin Swainston, MD, FACOG provider, about your lifestyle, concerns, and health goals. They can then guide you toward the IUD option that best meets your needs.

For help picking the right IUD for you, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with an OB/GYN provider at Darin Swainston, MD, FACOG in Las Vegas today.

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