Intrauterine device: benefits and drawbacks

The female intrauterine device is one of the methods of contraception which has a T-shape and is made of plastic or copper. The action principle of a device is to stop the movement of the sperm cells to the uterus and reduction of the activity of the ovary. The device creates an obstacle for the implantation of the fertilized ovum.

The intrauterine device is an advanced and effective type of a birth control method .

The intrauterine device became widely spread in the gynecology and it has both benefits and some drawbacks . Among the benefits of this method of contraception are:

  • Effective protection (85-98%);
  • Its action begins shortly after its insertion;
  • A long-term period of use (3-5 years);
  • Examination at a gynecologist is once in 6 months;
  • Female birth control device does not create any uncomfortable sensation in women or men;
  • After the extraction of the device, a woman’s fertility is easily restored;
  • Reversibility of this method of contraception;
  • The use of an intrauterine device is not a contraindication to surgical interference or to the use of any medications.

However despite all the benefits, an intrauterine device has some side effects :

  • Bleeding and traumas to the cervix. These may be caused by a wrong insertion of the device or by the actions of a doctor without any good qualification;
  • Lower abdominal pain. This sensation may occur if the uterus is hypersensitive or due to a wrong insertion of the device;
  • Longer menstruation period and more copious discharge;
  • Intrauterine devices do not protect from the sexually transmitted disease or infections;
  • A greater risk of ectopic pregnancy;
  • During the first year, there is a risk of falling the device out of place.

Contraindications for intrauterine device use

Before inserting an intrauterine device , be made aware of the contraindications:

  1. Pregnancy;
  2. Vaginal spotting of unknown etiology;
  3. Pelvic inflammations;
  4. Uterine or cervical cancer;
  5. Fibromyoma deforming the uterine contour;
  6. Previous ectopic pregnancy, traumas to the uterus and the cervix.
  7. Blood disorders.


Today there are several types of intrauterine devices:

  • Devices made of copper. They have a T-shape and a plastic frame and a copper wire looped around it. Copper wire creates a mechanical influence, stimulating the uterine contractions. Additionally, due to the copper oxidation products, special conditions are created to prevent implantation of the fertilized ovum.
  • Hormonal intrauterine device is one of the advanced hormonal birth control methods. Such devices contain progestin or levonorgestrel. Under the influence of these hormones, some changes occur in the endometrial cells which prevent the implementation of the ovum. “Mirena” is one of the intrauterine devices of this type. It is the most popular device which contains levonorgestrel. Hormonal devices are more effective than the metal ones, they have an extended period of action (5 years) but are more expensive.

Insertion and extraction

The problem of an intrauterine device insertion is better to solve with your gynecologist. Before the insertion, you should have the following examinations and tests:

  • Pap and vaginal smear;
  • HIV and hepatitis blood test;
  • Clinical and biochemical blood tests;
  • Common urine test;
  • Colposcopy;
  • Ultra-sound pelvic examination;
  • Screening for sexually transmitted disease.

When the absence of contraindications and pregnancy is confirmed by laboratory tests, an intrauterine device may be inserted. A doctor applies some gel anesthetic to the cervix. The insertion is performed on an obstetric chair. External sex organs and the cervix are treated with some antiseptic. After measuring the depth of the cervix, a doctor inserts a device.

Extraction of an intrauterine device is painless (provided that a woman is healthy) and does not require any anesthesia. The vagina and the cervix are treated with an antiseptic and then with a special instrument the cervix is expanded and with graspers a doctor extracts the device. Usually this procedure is performed during the menstruation.

It is not possible to identify which intrauterine device is better without the consultation of a qualified specialist.

The choice of the intrauterine device depends on the individual characteristic of a woman’s body. Today in the Internet one may find a lot of information on how to choose an intrauterine device . However, be aware that the most reliable information you will obtain only at a qualified gynecologist.