As a teen, what is an IUD?

Tyler S. Carroll, MD
Family Medicine

Intrauterine devices, or IUDs for short, are small T-shape devices about 1.5 inches long and wide. They are inserted in the uterine cavity as a type of long term birth control. There are two types: the Mirena, which slowly releases hormones onto uterine lining and the Paragard, which is made out of copper and has no hormones. The Mirena can stay in for 5 years and usually lightens the menstrual flow, possibly even stopping period flow. The paragard can stay in for 10 to 12 years but usually does not have any period improvement. Both stop sperm from getting into the uterus for fertilization and interfere with the uterine cavity to fertilization, conception and implantation to occur. IUDs are more effective than other forms of birth control besides "getting your tubes tied", which is surgical and permanent. Teens can be candidates for IUDs but are often not the best candidates. IUDs are usually easier to place in women who have had children and are safest in someone who is committed to a long term single partner relationship. IUDs do not prevent STDs. If you get an STD while an IUD is in place the infection can be more serious.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
IUDs are small, T-shaped plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus for long-term birth control. They come in two forms, one that releases hormones that last for five years (Mirena) and one that contains a small amount of copper and lasts for twelve years (ParaGard). Both interfere with the uterine lining, making it an inhospitable place for a baby to grow. The one with hormones does more to actively prevent conception from taking place by keeping sperm from the egg, just like the Pill, Depo-Provera, and the NuvaRing. IUDs are nearly 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy but, like all hormonal contraceptives, do not prevent STI, so you’ll need to use a condom as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.