Contraception promotes family planning by facilitating spacing of births and reducing unintended pregnancies and abortions. Effective contraception methods provide both health and social benefits to mothers and their children. There are several methods of contraception:
• Natural Family Planning – to prevent pregnancy couples can use the rhythm method, basal body temperature and cervical mucus method to determine ovulation period.
• Chemical methods – spermicide in the form of creams, suppositories, foams, jellies and contraceptive film is inserted into the vagina before intercourse to kill sperm.
• Barrier methods – condoms, female condoms, diaphragms and cervical caps put a physical wall between the sperm and the cervix to prevent pregnancy.
• Hormonal methods – birth control pills, contraceptive injections, contraceptive implants contain hormones to stop ovulation and prevent pregnancy.
• Intrauterine Device – a small device containing copper or hormone that is inserted and left inside the uterus to prevent fertilization.
I am a mother of three and after the birth of my third child I decided I wanted to try a contraception method that is low maintenance and would have no hormonal side effects during breast feeding. I’ve been doing some reading and learned that Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are now considered to be one of the most effective method of contraception with 1-3 pregnancies per 100 women using it compared to other methods. The study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) found that fewer than 1% had any complications from using IUD, it is the best reversible method for preventing unintentional pregnancy and abortion.
Intrauterine Device or IUD is a small T-shaped device made from plastic that is wrapped in copper or contains hormones that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It has threads attached to it which hangs down the cervix into the vagina so you can check if it’s in place by feeling for the threads; threads are also used by doctors to remove it. This method is a long-acting reversible contraception, it is 20 times more effective than birth control pills, patch or the ring. The IUD works by preventing the sperm to fertilise the egg, and if the egg is fertilised it prevents the egg from implanting in the womb. There are two types of IUDs.
Copper IUD – copper wire is wound on the stem of the IUD. The copper is toxic to sperm, does not contain hormones and approved for use for up to 10 years.
Hormonal IUD releases the hormone progestin, it prevents fertilization by killing the sperm and keeping the uterine lining thin to prevent fertilized egg to implant and grow. It is approved for use for up to 3 to 5 years depending on the brand.
Benefits of IUD:
• The copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception. It works as soon as it’s fitted and last for 3-10 years depending on the type.
• It can be fitted any time as long as you’re not pregnant. You don’t have to use any contraception method once it is in place.
• It can be inserted immediately after childbirth, abortion or miscarriage and can even be used while breastfeeding.
• No one can tell that you are using contraceptive.
• IUD does not interfere with sex or daily activities. It doesn’t affect sex drive at all.
• Almost all women can use an IUD, it is safe for teens and women who have not had children
• It can last for 3–10 years depending on the type
• It’s a reversible method of contraception; it can be removed if you wish to become pregnant. The chance of getting pregnant will go back to normal as soon as the IUD has been removed.
• The hormonal IUD helps decrease menstrual pain and heavy menstrual bleeding.
Most women can use an IUD, including women who have never been pregnant and women who are HIV positive. Your doctor will ask questions about your health to make sure it is safe for you to be fitted. IUD is not recommended if you have undiagnosed, irregular vaginal bleeding and pelvic infection. IUD insertion is performed by a doctor; the procedure takes only about 10-15 minutes and can be done in a doctor’s office or sexual health clinic. It can be fitted any time provided you are not pregnant or you don’t have an untreated sexually transmitted infection or pelvic infection. IUD insertion may cause some discomfort, taking pain relief medication, local anaesthetics or IV sedation can help. Once IUD is inserted you no longer need to use other contraceptive. It’s a fit and forget method, you need not think of contraception every day. It does not interfere with sex or libido. It also does not increase your risk of having any type of cancer in the future.
You may have bleeding between periods or irregular bleeding in the first six month after IUD insertion. If you feel unwell and experience pain in your lower abdomen with a high temperature or if you have smelly discharge, go back to your doctor. You may have an infection. Some women may have heavier, longer and more painful periods but this will improve over time. Using tampons or towels during menstruation is safe if you have IUD. See your doctor 3 to 6 weeks after you are fitted to make sure it’s in place. Check your IUD by feeling the threads every month to make sure it hasn’t slipped out. If you feel the IUD slipped out or moved, don’t try to put it back on your own. Use other method of birth control like condom until you see your doctor.
IUDs are generally safe for most women, except for women who are pregnant, allergic to copper, with sexually transmitted infection or have breast or cervical cancer. Choosing which IUD would work best for you comes down to personal preference. I opted for the copper IUD and have it fitted after 2 months of baby birth as this method frees me from all the worries about pregnancy. The IUD insertion went well and not as painful as some online forums lead me to believe. I was out in the clinic before an hour. I have the copper IUD for four years now and I love it, it’s the best birth control ever and absolutely no side effects