Choosing a birth control method is a highly personal decision based on lots of factors. Obviously, it’s important to have a method that’s effective in preventing pregnancy. But it’s also important to select an option that’s easy to use, convenient and, of course, safe to use over a long period of time. Today, there are several options that fit the bill, but for many women, intrauterine devices or IUDs offer the most advantages.
What about the pill?
In the U.S., birth control pills are the most popular type of non-permanent contraception. About 25% of women who use birth control take pills — slightly more than twice the number of women who use IUDs, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization focused on reproductive health. Birth control pills gained widespread popularity in the 1970s, and since then, plenty of studies have demonstrated their effectiveness in preventing pregnancy.
But as popular as they are, pills aren’t all that convenient; you need to remember to take your pill every day at roughly the same time each day; forget to take a pill, and you could leave yourself open to an unplanned pregnancy. Plus, birth control pills can increase your risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks, especially if you’re older or you take pills for a prolonged period of time.
Benefits of IUDs
Pills aren’t the only other type of contraceptive; the ring, the patch, injectables, and condoms are other options, although not nearly as popular as pills. But for many women, IUDs offer some pretty substantial benefits over all these other options:
- IUDs are very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. In fact, IUDs are as effective as sterilization (tubal ligation) and even more effective than birth control pills (although both are more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly). The patch, ring, and diaphragm are significantly less effective. According to the CDC, anywhere from six to 12 women out of a hundred will get pregnant when using one of these methods.
- They’re super convenient to use. Once an IUD is in place, it’s working 24/7. There’s no need to remember to take a pill or insert a ring or diaphragm, and you don’t have to worry about using it incorrectly either. The only “maintenance” with an IUD is checking once a month to make sure it’s in place. During your office visit, Dr. Weyhrich can show you how to perform your monthly check, which takes just a few moments.
- They can help with your periods. IUDs that use hormones can reduce period cramping and make your flow lighter, and in some cases, they may eliminate your periods entirely. In fact, hormonal IUDs can be a really good choice for women who suffer from anemia as a result of very heavy periods.
- You can get pregnant as soon as your IUD is removed. IUDs won’t interfere with your fertility or make it more difficult to get pregnant. When you’re ready to get pregnant, just schedule an in-office visit to have the IUD removed.
- Copper IUDs don’t use hormones. Most types of birth control rely on hormones (estrogen, progesterone or both) to prevent pregnancy, and there are IUDs that use hormones as well. But copper IUDs don’t contain any hormones, which makes them ideal for women who want or need to avoid them.
- IUDs last a long time. Depending on the type of IUD you have, once it’s in place, it can remain effective for up to 12 years.
- Copper IUDs can be used for emergency contraception after unprotected sex. As long as it’s implanted within 120 hours of unprotected sex, a copper IUD is over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Rise in popularity
Although birth control pills have traditionally commanded the lion’s share of contraceptive usage in the U.S., IUDs have become increasingly popular during the past several years. One possible reason: Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare), insurance companies are required to cover the cost of birth control, including IUD insertion and follow-up visits.
Of course, with the healthcare debate raging on in Washington, there’s no guarantee insurance coverage will be available indefinitely. If you’re considering an IUD — or any other type of birth control — now is the time to talk to Dr. Weyhrich about all your options. To schedule your appointment, call the office of Dr. Darin L. Weyhrich, M.D., at 208-254-1661 or use our contact form to get in touch today.