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Ask Dr. Marla: IUD Usage

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Marla oct10 - ask dr. Marla: iud usage

How often can I use an IUD? I have had two, the first shortly after I had my first baby six years ago, the second after my second baby was born. It is nearing five years and after looking into different options of birth control, I still like what the IUD does for me. Is it okay to have another one put in for another five years?

A. IUD stands for an intrauterine device. It is an excellent form of birth control and is effective in over 96 percent of women. In Canada, the IUD is made with copper. There is also an intrauterine system, or IUS, which does not have copper but has a hormone called a progestin. The IUS in Canada uses the progestin levonorgestrel. The efficacy rate of the IUS is over 99 percent.
With an IUD, the copper changes the environment of the uterus. The pH level also changes, which then can immobilize and kill sperm. The IUS has a reservoir of levonorgestrel that is released causing the mucus in the cervix to thicken. This creates a plug which prevents the sperm from entering the uterus. In addition, menstrual periods will become lighter and even absent over time. With the IUD the periods may become heavier and crampier.
You are an excellent candidate for the IUS or IUD as you are in a monogamous relationship and therefore at low risk of acquiring any kind of sexually transmitted infection.
The IUD or IUS is often called a forgettable form of contraception. Once it is in place, it can stay for five years.
While your doctor is the best person to advise you about the use of your IUS, generally if there are no contraindications you can continue to use this method, replacing it when required.

Published in March 2011.

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