Intrauterine Device (IUD): Dealing Day-to-Day

3. Monitor your menstrual cycles.

An IUD is a very effective means of birth control. There is, however, a slight chance that you can become pregnant. If you fail to get your period during the first six weeks after insertion or experience any other symptoms of pregnancy you should contact your physician immediately. It is very important that pregnancy can be ruled out as a cause of your missed periods. Your physician can determine the reason and take appropriate measures.

With a hormone-releasing IUD, some women experience irregular menstrual periods. This symptom often disappears within a few months following insertion of the device. You should discuss with your physician how the irregular periods affect your monitoring for pregnancy.

You should also consult your physician if you experience any increased bleeding with your menstrual cycles. An abnormal increase in menstrual blood or bleeding between cycles may indicate a problem with your IUD.

4. Remember, IUDs do not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases (STDS).

An IUD does protect you from pregnancy but it does not protect you from STDs, such as HIV, chlamydia or gonorrhea. If you are not in a monogamous, long term relationship, you are at higher risk for STDs. Women who engage in sex with multiple partners or who have partners who are sexually active with a number of individuals should always use a condom for protection from STDs.

Women who contract these diseases may develop more serious health consequences if they have an IUD in place. For this reason, most healthcare professionals do not recommend IUDs for women who have multiple partners. These women should consider other forms of contraception that do not pose as great a risk as the IUD. Women who are in single partner relationships are the best candidates for an IUD as a means of contraception.

5. Determine when you wish to start a family.

An IUD does not have any long term effects on becoming pregnant. When you wish to start a family, your physician can immediately remove your IUD and you can begin trying to conceive. Studies have shown that women who have an IUD removed have the same chances of becoming pregnant as women with no birth control.

The IUD can be removed in your physician's office in a matter of minutes. It is a simple procedure and in most cases, there are no side effects. Some women report mild cramping similar to a period but it usually subsides in a short time.

In addition, you may use an IUD following childbirth. Many women return to IUDs for contraception once they have had a baby or completed their family. You can discuss the options with your ObGyn including timing of the procedure and length of time of usage.

Overall, an IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control on the market today. The IUDs in the past were associated with certain medical problems but those devices are no longer in use. The newer IUDs offer safe contraception for many women in the world.

Reviewed by Joanne Poje Tomasulo, M.D., ACOG

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