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IUD Birth Control 101

Having an abundance of options may seem great, but when it comes to birth control it can be overwhelming to find the right option for you. Inside of each method are more choices from materials to brands. The right birth control method for you can change over time depending on your reason to be on it and how your body reacts. A method that is rising in popularity is an intrauterine device (IUD) birth control. 

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IUD Birth Control – Your Options at a Glance 

Hormone releasing vs. Non-hormone based 

Planned Parenthood describes an IUD as a T-shaped device placed into your uterus to prevent pregnancy by changing the way sperm cells move so they can’t get to an egg. There are five different, FDA approved IUDs for use in the United States. These are divided into two types: Copper IUDs and Hormonal IUDs. 

Copper IUDs


  • Lasts: up to 10 years for pregnancy prevention 
  • Hormones: None
  • Will not prevent your natural menstrual cycle 
  • Can be removed at anytime if you choose you want to become pregnant  

Copper IUDs contain no hormones and have copper wire coiled around the device. The Paragard IUD can last up to 10 years but can be removed at any time if you decide you want to get pregnant. If you’ve struggled with hormonal birth control in the past, want a hormone-free option or prefer a method that won’t prevent your natural menstrual cycle, talk to your OB healthcare provider about Paragard. Some common side effects of Paragard include: anemia, spotting, prolonged periods, vaginal irritation, pain during sex and backache. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information and potential ways you could react to Paragard. 

Hormonal IUDs 


  • Lasts: Up to six years for pregnancy prevention and up to five years for heavy menstrual bleeding treatment (HMB). 
  • Hormones: Yes, contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic steroid hormone which has a similar effect to progesterone. 
  • Effective: Over 99 percent 
  • The first and only IUD used to treat HMB along with prevent pregnancy 
  • Thickens your cervical mucus and thins the lining of your uterus. 
  • Can be used whether you’ve had a baby or not. 


  • Lasts: Up to five years for pregnancy prevention 
  • Hormones: Yes, contains a hormone commonly used in birth control pills and slowly releases a continuous dose into your uterus 
  • Effective: Over 99 percent up to five years, 98.6 percent over five years 
  • Lowest-hormone IUD 
  • Thickens your cervical mucus and thins the lining of your uterus. 


  • Lasts: Up to six years for pregnancy prevention 
  • Hormones: Yes 
  • Effective: Over 99 percent 
  • Can be used by women who have had children and women who have never been pregnant 
  • Reversible form of birth control and can be removed at any time 


  • Lasts: Up to three years for pregnancy prevention 
  • Hormones: Yes, releases a progestin hormone locally into your uterus at a slow and continuous rate
  • Effective: Over 99 percent 
  • Estrogen-free 
  • Thickens cervical mucus, inhibits sperm movement, reduces sperm survival and thins the uterine lining 

How do I choose? 

Properly choosing the right birth control method for you requires one thing: a conversation with your Gyn healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can listen to your reason to go on birth control, explain the possible side effects of each method and walk you through the process of starting birth control. At Southdale ObGyn, our providers are here to help women of all ages feel confident and comfortable about their birth control choices. Set a time to speak with one of our experienced providers and get support for your choice.


IUD birth control device