Are you tired of remembering to take a daily pill or dealing with the hassle of other birth control methods? Look no further! At Qualitas Health, we are excited to offer long-acting reversible contraception.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of IUDs and how they can provide you with long-term contraceptive protection. Read on to learn more about this highly effective long-acting reversible birth control option.
What is a LARC?
Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is a group of contraception methods that:
- provide very effective contraception
- are long-acting
- don’t require you to do anything to prevent pregnancy every day or every time you have sex are immediately reversible when removed
LARC include intrauterine devices (IUDs) and contraceptive implants.
What is an IUD?
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus by your GP. It offers long-term reversible contraceptive protection by preventing pregnancy for several years.
IUDs come in two types: hormonal IUD and Copper IUD. Hormonal IUDs release a small amount of progesterone, which thickens cervical mucus, inhibits fertilisation, and thins the uterine lining.
On the other hand, copper IUDs are made of copper, which creates an inhospitable environment, preventing fertilisation.
How effective is an IUD?
Very effective! They’re over 99% effective, to be precise.
Copper IUD is 99.5% effective at preventing pregnancy.
Both the hormonal IUD and the Copper IUD have the following benefits:
IUDs are among the most effective forms of birth control available. Once inserted, they provide long-term protection without requiring any action on your part. Hormonal IUDs have a failure rate of less than 1%, while copper IUDs have a failure rate of less than 1% to 2%. Compared to other methods, such as the pill or condoms, IUDs offer superior efficacy in preventing unintended pregnancies.
Convenience and Peace of Mind
One of the most significant advantages of IUDs is their convenience. After insertion, you will have adequately managed your birth control for several years, depending on the type of IUD chosen. This makes IUDs an excellent choice for individuals who lead busy lives or who struggle with adhering to daily pill schedules.
Long-term and Reversible
IUDs are designed to provide long-term contraception while still offering the option for removal if you decide you want to conceive. Depending on the type of IUD, they can offer contraceptive protection for up to 3 to 10 years. Once you are ready to start a family, your GP can easily remove the IUD, and your fertility will quickly return to normal.
Minimal Side Effects
IUDs are generally well-tolerated and have minimal side effects. Some individuals may experience mild cramping or spotting during the first few months after insertion, but these symptoms usually subside over time. Hormonal IUDs may also lead to lighter or no periods, which can be a welcome relief for individuals who experience heavy or painful menstrual cycles. Hormonal IUDs are commonly used for the treatment of heavy and painful menstrual periods.
Both the hormonal IUD and the Copper IUD have the following disadvantages:
No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs): It is important to note that neither copper nor hormonal IUDs protect against STIs. Barrier methods, such as condoms, should be used alongside IUDs to reduce the risk of STIs.
Procedure for insertion and removal: Both copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs require a healthcare professional to insert and remove them. The procedure may cause slight discomfort or pain for some individuals.
Small risk of complications during insertion: During the insertion of an IUD, there is a slight chance of encountering difficulties, such as difficulty inserting the IUD or damage to the uterine wall (perforation). Additionally, there is a small risk of infection, although it is relatively low.
Possibility of self-expulsion: While rare, both types of IUDs can potentially be expelled on their own. If you suspect that your IUD has been removed, it is important to consult with your GP for further evaluation.
The Hormonal IUD can also have the following side effects:
Hormonal side effects: Hormonal IUDs may cause certain hormonal side effects, including bloating, headaches, mood changes, acne, and a lowered interest in intercourse.
Irregular bleeding or spotting: It is common to experience irregular bleeding or spotting during the initial months after getting a hormonal IUD. However, these side effects usually diminish over time and eventually, you may have a lighter period or none.
The copper IUD may have the following side effects:
Heavier and more prolonged periods: Copper IUDs are known to increase menstrual flow and duration for some individuals. This can result in heavier and longer periods, which may be bothersome for some.
Irregular spotting: Some individuals may experience irregular spotting with a copper IUD during the first few months after insertion.
Who cannot use the IUD?
- You should not use both the hormonal IUD and the Copper IUD2:
- You think you might be pregnant.
- You have had a recent infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
- You have unusual bleeding from your vagina.
- You have uterine distortion or an abnormally shaped uterus.
- Besides, you should not use the Hormonal IUD if you have a history of breast cancer or some serious liver conditions.
- You should not use the copper IUD if you have Wilson’s disease or are allergic to copper.
How is an IUD inserted?
The insertion of an IUD is a routine medical procedure performed by GPs. Familiarity with the process may help to alleviate any concerns or uncertainties. Here’s a brief overview of how an IUD is inserted:
Pre-insertion Preparations: Before the IUD insertion, it is recommended that individuals undergo a cervical screening test and swabs to rule out any pelvic infections. Additionally, it is essential to ensure that you are not pregnant. occasionally a medical doctor may send you for a pelvic ultrasound in some cases prior to the procedure to assess the shape and size of the uterus. The IUD can be inserted immediately after your period, or reliable contraception should be used until the procedure can be performed.
Procedure Setup: During the insertion, you will be positioned similarly to a cervical screening test. A speculum will be gently placed in your vagina, and your cervix will be cleaned with an antiseptic.
Measuring and Placement: The GP will measure the length of your uterus to determine the appropriate size of the IUD. The IUD is then inserted through the cervix or the opening to the uterus. The string attached to the IUD is cut so that it is well up into the vagina. While you or your sexual partner are unlikely to notice it, you should be able to feel the string if you reach up into your vagina.
Monitoring and Recovery: After the insertion, you will typically wait at the clinic for about 15 minutes to ensure you feel comfortable and experience no unnecessary discomfort or pain. It is important to avoid intercourse or use tampons for 48 hours following insertion to reduce the risk of infection.
When to consult your Doctor?
It is important to be aware of potential signs and symptoms that may indicate a complication related to an IUD. If you experience any of the following, it is recommended to consult your Doctor:
- Changes in IUD position.
- Severe pain and cramping: Experience severe pain and cramping in your stomach or lower abdomen.
- Notice heavier-than-usual vaginal bleeding.
- Experience pain during penetrative sex.
- Bleeding during or after sex.
- Observe a change in the appearance or amount of your vaginal discharge.
- Systemic symptoms: Develop a fever, chills, or have difficulty breathing.
- Suspect that you might be pregnant.
- Engage in sexual activity without a barrier method with someone who has an STI.
What is the contraceptive implant?
The contraceptive implant is a small, flexible rod about the size of a matchstick. A contraceptive implant is inserted under the skin on the inside of the arm. The hormone is released slowly over 3 years. The hormone prevents eggs from being released from the ovaries (ovulation) and thickens the mucus at the entrance to the uterus (womb) so sperm can’t get through.
- It is 99.95% effective.
- It lasts for 3 years but can be removed earlier.
- As soon as it is taken out, fertility returns quickly.
- There is no need to take a pill or have injections.
- It is safe for use by most women, including those who are breastfeeding.
- It is not expensive.
- It might make your periods less painful and lighter, and reduce pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and acne.
- It doesn’t protect against sexually transmissible infections (STIs)
- It might change the pattern of your vaginal bleeding, especially in the first 3 months.
- It can cause slight bruising and pain when inserted or removed.
- It might move from its original position.
- It can cause hormonal side effects such as tender breasts, mood changes or headaches.
- It may leave a small scar.
Who cannot use the contraceptive implant?
You should not use the contraceptive implant if:
- You think you are pregnant.
- You have some health conditions, including a history of breast cancer or severe liver disease – your doctor will need to talk to you about this so that you can decide if it is safe for you to use.
- You have unexplained bleeding from your vagina – your doctor will need to talk to you about this before putting in the implant.
- You take medicines that may stop the contraceptive implant from working properly, including some epileptic medications and herbal remedies.
It is important to talk to your doctor or nurse to see if the contraceptive implant is a good choice for you. If you are at risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you can use condoms at the same time as using the implant.
Expert Care at Qualitas Health
At Qualitas Health, we are committed to providing exceptional healthcare services and personalised care to our patients. We have specialist GPs experienced in the insertion and removal of contraceptive implants and IUDs. We understand that choosing the right contraceptive method is an important decision, and we are here to support you every step of the way.
During your visit, we will take the time to discuss your individual needs, answer any questions you may have, and ensure you receive the most suitable LARCs option for your lifestyle and preferences.
We have numerous healthcare practices that offer implants and IUD services. Find your nearest practice and speak to reception if they have a specialist GP that can support you: https://qualitashealth.com.au/our-practices/.
Goldstuck ND, et al. (2019). The efficacy of intrauterine devices for emergency contraception and beyond: a systematic review update.
Family Planning Australia. https://www.fpnsw.org.au/factsheets/individuals/contraception
Everything You Need to Know About Intrauterine Devices (IUDs). (2022). https://www.healthline.com/health/birth-control-iud