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IUD: Intrauterine Device

An IUD is a plastic “T” shaped device (about an inch and a half tall) that is placed inside a woman’s uterus. There are 2 types available—one with copper metal and one with progestin hormone. It is inserted during an office visit by a medical provider. The copper IUD lasts up to 10 years, and the hormone IUD lasts up to 5 years.

How does it work to prevent pregnancy?
The devices affect sperm so that the egg is not fertilized. The hormone IUD usually changes a female’s “periods”, with less bleeding over time.

How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are extremely effective. Typically, none or 1 of 100 couples will become pregnant in the first year.

How effective is it in preventing STDs?
This method is NOT AT ALL effective in preventing STDs or HIV. If a person has sex, condoms must also be used to reduce the risk of STDs and HIV.

Other Things to Know about IUDs:
Advantages:

  • The couple does not have to remember to do something to prevent pregnancy
  • The copper IUD lasts 10 years, and the hormone IUD lasts 5 years, unless they are removed sooner

Disadvantages:

  • The woman must go to a doctor or clinic to receive an IUD
  • The IUD must be inserted (and removed) by a health provider
  • With the copper IUD, periods may be heavier or have more cramps
  • With the hormone IUD, most females do not have regular monthly periods, but there is usually less bleeding

Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was adapted from PlannedParenthood.org, and BigDecisions.org, websites that provide education about reproductive and sexual health. 

Special Thanks: Melissa A. Habel, MPH, Health Scientist
Division of STD Prevention Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

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