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World Contraception Day

Debunking the myths - today, the IUD

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Feature

You’ve heard all the myths – You’ve been probably told about your neighbour’s daughter-in-law’s sister’s mother who had an IUD that travelled to their lungs and killed them, or that Uncle’s daughter’s third cousin who had a Jadelle implant that picked up a radio frequency and started controlling her mind. The reality is far more boring. Family Planning is here to dispel the myths are contraception. Here’s the second – The humble IUD.

The IUD is a type of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) that goes in your uterus.

The facts are:

  • It is more than 99% effective
  • It works for up to 10 years
  • It’s a ‘Fit and forget’ contraception – you don’t need to do anything
  • And there are two types: one with hormones, one without hormones.

When it comes to your period – it might change, some people experience more bleeding and some people experience less bleeding.

Only women who have had children can get an IUD

Wrong. Our National Medical Advisor Dr Beth Messenger recommends that IUDs be used by people at any age.

“We actually always say that IUDs and the contraceptive implant are a great option for teenagers because they’re safe, they‘re the most effective type of contraceptive on the market, and they’re what we call ‘fit and forget contraception’ which means you don’t have to remember to do anything.”

So whether you’re an adolescent or you’re older, whether you have children or not, an IUD is an equally good choice.

Getting the IUD put it in is extremely painful

Being afraid of the IUD hurting when it’s put in shouldn’t be what stops you from choosing it as a method of contraception.

In reality, getting an IUD is different for everyone. For some people it can be quite painful, but that is not the norm and most people will find it’s not as bad as they expected and feels more uncomfortable than anything.

The pain you might be feeling is actually the cervix opening, so it will feel like period cramps. One of the reasons you get period cramps is due to the cervix opening.

There’s a way you can make it easier on yourself – get the IUD inserted while your cervix is already a little bit open – during your period.

We encourage you to have your IUD put in at this time, but don’t worry, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to.

You might like to take some pain killers( ibuprofen is good)  before your IUD insertion, but don’t worry, the nurse will explain this is the pre-IUD insertion appointment.

And just think, ten minutes of discomfort for up to ten years contraception!

Your partner will feel it when you have sex

First of all, the IUD sits high up inside the uterus (not the vagina!) so your partner won’t even get near it with their penis, fingers, or a sex toy. No matter what they say, they’re just don’t have the ability to get that high up.

The IUD has soft plastic strings attached to the end of it. These will poke out through your cervix into your vagina but your partner shouldn’t notice them. If you can feel the hard stem of the IUD it will need to be removed and replaced.  Separate to this - If you or your partner have any pain or discomfort during sex, you should see a doctor.

It can cause infertility or infection

Once you have your IUD removed, your fertility will return. If you want to begin planning a pregnancy, no waiting period is needed. The contraceptive effect of an IUD disappears instantly on removal. Research has found no increased risk of infertility or pelvic infection when compared to people using other types of birth control. In fact, because hormonal IUDs thicken cervical mucous they may even keep out bacteria, though you should always use protection if you have a new partner or are unsure of your partner’s sexual history. 

IUDs fall out all the time

IUDs can start to fall out, but it’s rare and they usually sit low in the uterus rather than fall out. This might be uncomfortable – around 5% of clients  will need a new IUD  inserted. If your IUD does start to come out it will likely be soon after you had it inserted and during your period. If you’re concerned, contact your GP or local Family Planning clinic. Have protected sex until you get the all clear.

Your IUD could travel to another part of your body

The only place an IUD can travel is the pelvis or abdominal cavity, but it is more likely to fall out that go upwards.  Very rarely, a perforation occurs with IUD insertion, about 1 in 1000 insertions, slightly more likely if you are breastfeeding.  Sometimes this involves the IUD going through the wall of the uterus, and an operation may be needed to remove it.

Choosing contraception is a personal decision, but if used properly IUDs are 45 times more effective that the pill and 90 times more effective than male condoms, according to the Guttmacher Institute. IUDs are an excellent contraceptive option.

Your decision to get an IUD should be based on facts– your local Family Planning nurse is happy to talk to you about your options. Just get in touch.

 

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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