WHAT IS IT?
IUD stands for intrauterine device. It is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into your uterus by a doctor. There are two different brands available in Nova Scotia – the Flexi T and the Nova T. They are a little bit different in their sizes, shapes, and the material they are made from, but basically, they work the same. Sometimes they are referred to as the copper IUD.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The IUD has a coil made of copper. Traces of copper are released locally by the coil, which causes sperm to lose their motility. This prevents fertilization of the egg. The IUD also changes cervical mucus, which can make it more difficult for the sperm to travel. Finally, if an egg is fertilized, the IUD prevents it from implanting in the lining of the uterus. After you have the IUD inserted, you are immediately protected against pregnancy. You can keep the IUD in for up to 5 years. After 5 years, it will begin to lose its effectiveness.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS IT?
The IUD is 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. It does NOT protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING THE NON-HORMONAL IUD?
- long-acting contraceptive; can be left in place for up to five years
- no daily contraceptive routine required
- does not contain hormones
- does not interfere with intercourse
- may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer
- may be suitable for women who are breastfeeding
- may increase menstrual bleeding or menstrual cramping
- possible side effects include irregular bleeding or spotting in the first months after insertion
- perforation of the uterus may occur at the time of insertion, but this is rare
- may be expelled from the uterus. This happens in 2-10% of IUD users
- does not offer protection against STIs
- requires a physician for insertion and removal