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Understanding How the Nonhormonal IUD Works

Understanding How the Nonhormonal IUD Works

Most women are familiar with the concept of an IUD: The intrauterine device is implanted in the uterus to slowly release birth control hormones. For women who don’t tolerate hormonal birth control well, there’s another option: the nonhormonal IUD.

At The Women’s Center at Life Point Medical in Clayton, Georgia, Monique Petteys, FNP-C, provides a range of women’s health care services, including birth control options like IUDs. 

IUD basics

An IUD is a small intrauterine device implanted into the uterus. It delivers consistent, long-lasting birth control and can stay in place for many years. IUDs can be removed anytime if you want to try a different birth control method or want to get pregnant.

IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, but they don’t provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Most women who use IUDs are urged to also use a form of barrier control like a condom when having penetrative sex.

How hormonal IUDs work

Hormonal IUDs are usually made of long-lasting, flexible plastic shaped like a “T” and treated with the hormone progestin. The IUD releases the progestin slowly and consistently over time. 

Progestin thickens cervical mucus, providing a barrier that keeps sperm from getting through and fertilizing an egg.

How nonhormonal IUDs work

Some women don’t like or can’t use progestin-based IUDs. If you have certain cancers or uterine conditions, for example, you might not be a good candidate for a hormonal IUD.

Another option, hormone-free ParaGard®, involves the same type of plastic “T” wrapped in copper instead of treated with progestin.

The copper causes a small inflammatory reaction that creates a toxic environment for sperm. Any sperm entering the uterus typically dies before it can fertilize an egg.

Benefits of nonhormonal IUDs

One of the top benefits of IUDs is that you don’t have to take a birth control pill every day (or get quarterly hormone injections.) With oral contraceptives, missing a day can mean running the risk of pregnancy. Having an IUD removes that risk.

Another worry with birth control pills, injections, and hormonal IUDs is that certain medications can interact with hormone levels, making these forms of birth control less effective. 

The good news is that common antibiotics and medications won’t disrupt the effectiveness of your nonhormonal IUD.

Are you looking for a birth control option that doesn’t require hormones, a daily pill, or repeated injections? A nonhormonal IUD could be right for you.

For more information on all types of birth control or to see if you’re a good candidate for an IUD, call our office or request an appointment online today.

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