If you're sexually active or considering starting to have sex, one of the first things you should do is speak to your doctor about your birth control options. Birth control comes in many forms, all with different effectiveness, side effects, and benefits. One of the most popular forms of birth control besides abstinence is the intrauterine device (IUD). Although it's 99 percent effective, there's still a possibility that you can get pregnant with an IUD inserted. POPSUGAR spoke with Dr. Jennifer Wider, MD, women's health specialist and author, about IUDs and why some women have gotten pregnant with an IUD.
What's an IUD?
An IUD is a small device shaped like a "T" that is surgically placed into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. It's a long-term method of birth-control that's reversible — you can get pregnant right after it's removed. There are currently five different FDA approved brands of IUDs in the United States: ParaGard, Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla.
How Does an IUD Work?
IUDs work by changing the way sperm cells move so that they can't reach the egg. The copper in the ParaGard prevents pregnancy since sperm doesn't like copper. Progestin found in the hormonal IUD thickens the mucus on the cervix, which blocks and traps sperm. The hormones can also stop eggs from leaving the ovaries, which is known as ovulation.
How Effective Are They?
Dr. Wider told POPSUGAR that an IUD is extremely effective, having a 99 percent effectiveness rate. When getting an IUD, you can either get a nonhormonal IUD (ParaGard) that lasts for up to 12 years or a hormonal IUD (Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla), which work for six, five, four, and three years respectively. "IUDs do not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections, so it's very important to use a latex condom to prevent transmission of disease," said Dr. Wider.
Can You Get Pregnant With an IUD?
While it is possible to get pregnant with an IUD, Dr. Wider says it's extremely rare. "If the IUD isn't functioning properly or hasn't been put into place properly, the chances can go up," Dr. Wider told POPSUGAR.
How Do You Check Your IUD?
Your IUD has strings attached to it that will help you ensure it's in the proper place. The strings are one to two inches from your cervix. With clean hands, place your finger into your vagina until you've found your cervix. Once you've found your cervix, move your finger around until you've feel your strings. Your doctor can also provide you with a tutorial during an exam. If the strings are too long, too short, or can't be felt, your IUD is more than likely in the wrong place, and you should immediately contact your healthcare provider.