Women’s health experts consider intrauterine devices, or IUDs, to be among the most effective forms of birth control, in part because people who use them don’t need to remember to take or apply them, like a pill or patch. A doctor inserts one of the T-shaped devices into the uterus, a procedure that typically takes five minutes. Depending on the type, the IUD can stay in place for three to 12 years. .
There are two types of IUDs currently available:
hormonal, which secretes progestin. “Very little” of the hormone is absorbed into the bloodstream, compared to oral contraceptive pills, says Dr. Rosen said, so patients tend to experience fewer mood-related side effects. People who receive hormonal IUDs may have abnormal bleeding or spotting during the first three to six months after insertion. So the bleeding typically becomes lighter and more regular or disappears completely.
Copper, which does not contain hormones. However, people with heavy or painful periods may want to avoid copper IUDs, says Dr. Rosen said, because for some they can cause longer periods and heavier flows.
Nexplanon is a type of implant that is placed under the skin of the upper arm and lasts for about three years. It also has the lowest failure rate of all birth control methods, according to Dr. Nippita.
A doctor or nurse inserts the small wand, which is about the length of a matchstick, and the process takes only a few minutes. No pelvic exam is required.
Side effects can vary from person to person. About one-third of patients will experience “daily, abnormal, annoying” spotting, said Dr. Rose; another third will experience no bleeding at all; and the other third will simply have lighter and rarer sightings. Some people with the implant also report mood swings, headaches, weight gain, and acne.
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Depo-Provera is an injection that contains progestin and protects against pregnancy for three months. A healthcare professional typically administers it, in an arm or buttocks, every 12-14 weeks.