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The Evolution of IUDs

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Reproductive System related image Photo: Getty Images

The intrauterine device (IUD) and intrauterine contraception has been around more than 50 years. Over the years, size and shape of the IUD has changed dramatically. IUDs of the past resembled prehistoric bugs on steroids.

It is believed a German doctor first began experimenting with different types of IUDs in the 1920s. Internationally, IUDs are very popular in China and Europe. It is believed the Chinese account for more 100 million IUDs used today out of the 130 million used internationally.

Today intrauterine contraception is considered to be one of the safest forms of birth control. Also, IUDs are-cost effective and offer less risk when compared to previous years. Today’s woman is also more informed about her birth control choices and thankfully the stigma of birth control has lessened.

According to Planned Parenthood, overall most women who get an IUD are satisfied with their choice and ninety-nine percent of IUD users are pleased with them.

Currently on the market are two types of IUD, Mirena and Paragard. Both are made of plastic and are very small.

The Planned Parenthood website stated, ʺ[Mirena] releases a small amount of progestin, which thickens cervical mucus, on a regular schedule and works by preventing sperm from joining an egg. This device is considered 99.8% effective in preventing pregnancy. The copper IUD (Paragard) contains no hormones and also works by preventing sperm from joining an egg. Paragard is soft, flexible plastic, with copper wrapped around the ends of the T bar and the base of the T. This device is considered 99.2% effective.ʺ

According to Planned Parenthood and American Pregnancy, here are some of the benefits of using an IUD:

• They are convenient and highly effective
• The ability to become pregnant returns quickly once the IUD is removed.
• IUDs can be used during breastfeeding.
• They're easy - you do not have to do anything once it is placed inside.
• They last up to 5 years (progesterone IUD) and 10 years (copper IUD).
• The ParaGard IUD does not change a woman's hormone levels.
• The Mirena IUD may reduce period cramps and make your period lighter. On average, menstrual flow is reduced by 90 percent. For some women, periods stop altogether.
• IUDs may improve your sex life. There is nothing to put in place before intercourse to prevent pregnancy. Some women say that they feel free to be more spontaneous because they do not have to worry about becoming pregnant.

The Planned Parenthood website revealed that there are also several disadvantages of using IUDs. These include:

• Spotting between periods in the first 3–6 months
• Heavier periods and worse menstrual cramps — with ParaGard
• Mild to moderate pain when the IUD is put in
• Irregular periods in the first 3–6 months — with Mirena
• Cramping or backache for a few days

Today, the IUD has become the most cost-effective reversible form of birth control.


IUD Birth Control - Mirena IUD - ParaGard IUD. Sexual & Reproductive Health - Sex Education - Planned Parenthood. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/birth-control/iud-4245.htm

IUDs: We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby | Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona | Blog. Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona | Blog. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from

Intrauterine Devices: IUD : American Pregnancy Association. Promoting Pregnancy Wellness : American Pregnancy Association. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from http://www.americanpregnancy.org/preventingpregnancy/iud.html

Sex in the 1960s: Lippes Loop FREE Sex in the 1960s: Lippes Loop information | Encyclopedia.com: Find Sex in the 1960s: Lippes Loop research Encyclopedia.com | Free Online Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3468302423.html

The history of intrauterine contraception. Introductiepagina. Retrieved February 13, 2012, from

Reviewed February 13, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.