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It’s pretty well known that condoms go way back—as in, as far back as 1855. All inventors really needed to come up with those was the creation of rubber. What isn’t as widely known is that intra-uterine devices have been around since before the birth control pill. The pill only came about in the 1960s, but IUDs were around starting in the 1950s. The thing is that earlier versions were problematic and caused infections in some women. This left the device with a bad reputation for a while, and only recently—after the medical world made significant improvements on the device—did the IUD become popular. For that reason, many women still have a lot of questions about this unique form of birth control. Here is everything you need to know about IUDs.

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You can’t get it wrong

IUDs are the most effective form of birth control (besides celibacy) because user error is nearly impossible. You don’t need to remember to put in your IUD every day the way you need to remember to take a pill each day. And you can’t put it in incorrectly because your doctor puts it in for you. So you don’t need to worry about incorrect IUD application the way you can with condoms.

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There are hormonal and copper

There are two main types of IUDs: hormonal and copper. They are very different and depending on your reason for getting an IUD, either one can be ideal for you, or completely wrong for you.



The hormonal IUD slowly releases a hormone called levonorgestrel. This hormone causes the lining of your uterus to thicken, blocking sperm. In some cases, it can even stop an egg from releasing entirely.

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Those looking to move away from hormone-based birth controls will want the copper IUD. This device releases copper, which is toxic to sperm. Plus, one copper IUD called Paragard can stay in for up to 10 years.

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Effective start dates vary

Hormonal IUDs can take up to seven days to begin to work, so you should still use another form of birth control for your first week of having one. Copper IUDs begin to work immediately after insertion.


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Copper is ideal for pregnancy later

Copper IUDs have absolutely no effect on your fertility. If you are hoping to become pregnant later, it’s a good idea to go with a copper IUD. It has essentially no leftover effects on your body after being removed.


One is better for periods

The hormonal IUD is better for making periods easier. It can make cramps less severe and bleeding lighter. In some cases, a hormonal IUD might make your period go away entirely.

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One is worse

The copper IUD, unfortunately, can make periods worse. It can make cramps more severe and bleeding quite heavy. Some women with the copper IUD spot throughout the month.


You’ll be screened

You can’t just walk into your doctor’s office and demand an IUD on the spot. Your doctor will perform extensive screening to make sure it’s the best option for you and that your risk of infection is nearly nonexistent.

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They can stay in there three to five years

Various brands can stay in for varying time frames. Skyla and Liletta can stay in you for three years, while Mirena lasts five. As mentioned before, the copper IUD Paragard can remain for ten years.



It can hurt a bit

IUD insertion can be a bit painful. In order to put it in, your doctor must soften and dilate your cervix. Then, the IUD goes through your cervical canal and into your uterus.

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Taking it out it easy

Some women compare having your IUD removed to taking out a tampon. Fortunately, getting this device taken out is no big deal.

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Your partner won’t feel it

Your partner should not feel your IUD. Though it has strings that hang down from it, those eventually soften and curl up, so your partner shouldn’t even notice they’re there.

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They’re cost effective

Depending on whether or not your insurance covers it, an IUD can cost anywhere from $50 to $800 upfront. But even if you have to pay the full amount, it’s still rather cost effective because it may last you five years.

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Your insurance may cover it

Health insurance plans that cover reproductive issues often cover IUDs, so be sure to check with your provider before paying for your device.

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