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How does an IUD Prevent Pregnancy: Fascinating Facts

A Gynecologist holding an IUD

With the growing number of contraceptive methods, one can be confused easily as to which is the best to use. Today, we will be discussing how an IUD prevents pregnancy for your assistance.

How does an IUD Prevent Pregnancy?

An IUD (Intrauterine Device) is a T-shaped plastic frame which is inserted by a physician into the uterus via the vagina. This small device is mainly made up of plastic and is the size of a quarter.

These IUDs are available in two types, the one covered with copper ions and the other that releases the hormone progestin.

Photo by JPC PROD on Unlimphotos
Photo by JPC PROD on Unlimphotos

The IUD prevents pregnancy by interrupting the sperm cells, ovum, and fertilization. The IUDs work by interrupting the fertilization process of the female ovum in the fallopian tube, which prevents pregnancy.

1. Brands Of IUDs

Five FDA-approved brands prepare IUDs and are available in the United States of America. These brands prepare both types of IUDs, copper and hormonal IUDs. They are:

  1. Paragard
  2. Mirena
  3. Skyla
  4. Liletta
  5. Kyleena

2. Types Of IUDs

IUDs that are used as intrauterine devices come in two different varieties. These can be copper-covered, or progestin-releasing IUDs. Both IUDs have different mechanisms of action for preventing pregnancies.

 a) Hormonal IUD

  1. Four out of the five brands, including, Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla are hormonal IUDs that release hormones to prevent a woman from conceiving. All the brands use progestin which is similar to progesterone hormone produced naturally in the body.
  2. Mirena and Liletta work for 8 years, while Kyleena is effective for 5. Skyla can prevent conception for about three years.

b) Copper IUD

Copper IUDs are copper wire coiled with copper ions that prevent pregnancy. Paragard IUD is covered with copper bits that can prevent pregnancy for 12 years.

3. How Does An Intrauterine Device Work?

A woman gets pregnant when the male gamete or sperm fertilizes the female gamete or egg in the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg gets embedded into the uterine wall of the uterus, which results in pregnancies.

What if the sperm does not fuse with the ovum? It will not result in pregnancy. There are various methods to prevent the fusion of egg and sperm, and IUDs are one of them.

A Gynecologist holding IUD before procedure
By: Mariakray on Unlimphotos

Here are the different approaches to do so:

  1. Copper IUD does not let the sperm reach the egg by changing the uterine environment or changing the motion of the sperm.
  2. By blocking the implantation of the fertilized egg in the endometrium of the uterus, a Copper IUD may also prevent pregnancy.
  3. Copper IUD work by changing the movement of the fallopian tube and uterus, which affects the movement of both the ovum and sperm and hence preventing pregnancy.
  4. A hormonal IUD works by thickening the cervical mucus, making it unfavourable for sperm movement.
  5. Also, a hormonal IUD work thinning of the uterine wall so that the fertilized eggs do not get implanted.
  6. Sometimes, a hormonal IUD can also stop the ovulating process.

4. How Well are IUDs Effective as Birth Control Methods?

Both types are effective in preventing pregnancy . As per statistical records, only less than 1 out of 100 couples using IUDs end up having accidental pregnancies. This indicates that less than 1% of IUDs fail.

Copper IUDs are effective for about 10 to 12 years from the date of insertion into the womb. A hormonal IUD, on the other hand, stops conception for 3 to 5 years. The IUDs are a good choice for a couple who does not want to plan a family shortly.

However, an IUD can be inserted and removed anytime by the doctor or the nurse.

5. Are IUDs Advisable for Emergency Contraception?

Among various benefits, IUDs offer emergency contraception. If you get an IUD inserted within five days of unprotected sex, there is more than a 99% chance that the pregnancy will not occur.

Therefore, along with preventing unwanted pregnancy, IUDs offer great use in case of unprotected sex. These are more effective than the morning-after pills.

How does an IUD prevent pregnancy?
By: Creativepic on Unlimphotos

6. Can All Women Use IUDs?

With a low failure and high success rate, IUDs are preferred. Although IUDs are the most recommended birth control methods that are good for all in some cases, IUD insertion must be avoided.

The health care provider might recommend the removal of the IUD in the following conditions:

  1. Pelvic infection
  2. Pain during sex
  3. Severe Migraine
  4. Possible exposure to STD
  5. Significant increase in Blood Pressure

7. Who Should Not Use IUDs?

Women having any of the following medical conditions or complications should avoid the use of IUDs:

  1. History of uterine or cervical cancer
  2. History of breast cancer
  3. Liver disease
  4. Having Fibroids or other unusual uterine growths
  5. Having unexplained vaginal bleeding
  6. Pregnant
  7. History of Wilson’s disease
  8. History of ectopic pregnancy
  9. Suffering from Gonorrhea or Chlamydia
  10. Pelvic Inflammatory disease
  11. Active Sexually Transmitted infections

8. Side Effects Associated with IUDs

Along with several benefits, IUDs have various risks and side effects. Most of them are listed as follows:

  1. Mood Swings
  2. Acne
  3. Breast Tenderness
  4. Pelvic pain
  5. Cramps
  6. Increased menstrual bleeding
  7. Irregular menstrual cycle
  8. Unexplained fever
  9. Headache and Nausea

These were the common side effects associated with both Copper and hormonal IUDs. However, cramps and increased menstrual discharge are the side effects associated with Copper IUDs.

However, too much copper in the intrauterine system might lead to deterioration of health. Hence, a woman must consult a healthcare provider before inserting an IUD.

9. Benefits of Using IUDs

Although IUD prevents pregnancies, there are several other benefits of using IUD. Some of them are:

  1. There’s no need to stop having sex to use contraception
  2. No partner participation in contraception
  3. Stays in position for up to five years
  4. Removable whenever needed
  5. No side effects, as they are associated with birth control pills that contain estrogen for contraception
  6. Hormonal IUDs make period lighter and also less painful
  7. It can be used during breastfeeding (but you need to wait for 7 to 8 months after the birth of the baby so that the uterine lining does not get injured during insertion)

Along with the birth control benefits, IUDs are also recommended for the following medical conditions:

  1. Heavy bleeding during mensuration
  2. Irregular bleeding
  3. Period pain and cramps
  4. Endometriosis (growth of uterine tissue on the outer lining of the uterus)
  5. Adenomyosis (unusual growth in the uterus lining)
  6. Anemia
  7. Fibroids

Rare Problems Associated with the Use of IUDs

Most women opt for IUDs for long-term birth control options and the prevention of pregnancies.

All of us know the common side effects associated with the use of an Intrauterine device IUD but here are some rare complications that are not observed usually while using IUDs:

1. Expulsion

  1. Sometimes, an IUD comes out accidentally during heavy exercises, menstrual flow, or for no reason. Many women do not even realize that their IUD has been expelled.
  2. Hence, when a woman gets an IUD inserted, she needs to visit the doctor for a follow-up visit to check whether the IUD is in place.

2. Uterus Perforation

During the insertion of an IUD into the uterus, there is an extremely small risk that the device might perforate the uterine wall.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Sometimes during the insertion of IUDs, there is a low risk of getting a bacterial infection. Generally, the bacterial infection occurs within the first 20 days of inserting IUDs.

Cost of IUD

Depending on the type of IUD and health insurance, one can calculate the actual cost of an IUD. Most health insurance plans cover the IUD costs and planned parenthood.

Some clinics charge less for young adults and teenagers. Since an IUD provides you benefits for an extended period, the cost of the device would be according to that.

A Gynecologist preparing for IUD insertion
By: Mariakray on Unlimphotos

When to Insert an IUD?

Your healthcare provider will thoroughly evaluate your medical conditions and perform your pelvic exam before inserting IUDs.

An IUD can be inserted anytime:

  1. During the menstrual cycle, if the woman is not pregnant. She might need to take a pregnancy test to confirm the same.
  2. After the termination of the pregnancy.
  3. After the birth of the baby, however, it might lead to injury in the uterus during insertion.

The Procedure Of IUDs Insertion

Let us understand the procedure for the insertion of Intrauterine devices.

The following steps or procedure is followed for the successful insertion of IUDs into the womb of a woman:

  1. The healthcare provider will insert a speculum into the vagina. To avoid any infections, the vagina and cervix are cleaned with an antiseptic solution.
  2. Special instruments might be used to align the cervical canal and uterus, and to measure the depth of the uterus.
  3. Folding of horizontal arms of Copper IUD and placing it in the applicator tube.
  4. Now, the doctor will insert the tube into the cervix to place the device inside the uterus carefully.
  5. Many women feel cramping, dizziness, and a slower heart rate during insertion.
  6. Short strings from the IUD are clipped so they don’t stick out too far into the vagina.

After one month of the procedure, check whether the IUD strings protrude from the cervix but do not pull them. You may have follow-up visits to ensure the placement of the IUD and inflammatory reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How does an IUD stop you from getting pregnant?

By preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg, the copper-coated IUD prohibits conception. The implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus is also additionally hindered.

2. Where does sperm go with an IUD?

The way the IUD works is by making your uterus uninhabitable to sperm and fertilization. Your cervical mucus may thicken, your uterine lining may weaken, or you may stop ovulating according to the kind of IUD you have.

The IUD does not prevent sperm and semen from entering your uterus and vagina following ejaculation, though.

3. What is a major disadvantage of using an IUD?

They might be painful to implant and offer little protection against STIs (sexually transmitted diseases). If you don’t have insurance, the up-front expense can also be high.


Intrauterine Devices (IUDs) are placed in the uterus of a female for long-term birth control. These devices are available in several compositions used to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

If you want to take no chances with your health and future, then these are undoubtedly amazing options.

Read more health informative blogs on Canada Hustle:

What is Muscle Scraping: 1 Technique to Relieve Ricochieting Pain.




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