IUDs most effective form of reversible contraception

June 22, 2011 1:55:18 PM PDT
The IUD, or intrauterine device, just got the official recommendation from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The organization now says the IUD is the most effective form of reversible contraception, that it is safe for almost all women, and it's not used enough.

The IUD is a small t-shaped device that changes the lining of the uterus and prevents fertilization of the egg. The placement is done in the doctor's office. It takes 2 minutes do and lasts 5 to 12 years depending on the type.

There are 2 types of IUDs - one is made of copper, and the other releases small amounts of the hormone progestin.

Dr. Erika Banks, the Director of Gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center, said that both work but the side effects are a little different.

"One type can increase bleeding and cramping, and there can be irregular spotting," she stated.

Once a prime method of birth control, the IUD became controversial in the 1970s, when Dalkon Shield was pulled off the market after being linked to high rates of infection. Current IUDs are much safer.

The IUD does not cause infection if a woman is exposed to a sexually transmitted infection. Then, her risk of infection in the uterus can be higher but the IUD itself does not cause infection.

Some critics oppose the IUD because they say it causes abortions. However, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "IUDs work before pregnancy is established and are safe for the majority of women including adolescents and women who have never had children."

When you talk to your doctor about birth control options make sure that you include the IUD in the conversation.