I love you, IUD
What the hell is an IUD???
—Cervically Challenged Chad
Do I know you? Are you every male in my life? Do you think an IUD is synonymous to a UTI? How old are you? Apologies for the incredulity, but it’s 2018, guys. And if you want to go have a bunch of intercourse with females, you should be educated about birth control. Just because you wouldn’t necessarily have the baby doesn’t mean it’s not still half of you. Like, that’s a little half-you running around because you mistook her saying she has a UTI for a type of birth control (Side note: Please don’t have sex with someone who has a UTI, that’s cruel). Or maybe you think an IUD also prevents STDs? WRONG. Where do you think this IUD resides? In the vagina? In her arm? In the stomach? Once again, I’m sorry for patronizing you for asking a valid question, I just wish individuals with little knowledge about women’s health could the take the time to learn about—or even study it—instead of being happy that they’re lucky enough for it to not concern them. Trust me, you should want to know these things.
IUD stands for Intrauterine Device. So, to answer the previous question, IUDs reside in the uterus. The IUD is a small T-shaped object, inserted through the cervix, where it rests in the uterus. There are many different types of IUDs, hormonal and non-hormonal. Hormonal IUDs release progesterone, which is a hormone that will prevent pregnancy. The non-hormonal IUD, the Paragard, is a copper IUD and releases a little bit of copper into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy as long as they’re in place and properly inserted. They also conveniently last from 3-10 years depending on the type of IUD you choose to get. IUDs do not protect from STDs and STIs and should be used along with condoms.
Let’s get into the minutia of getting an IUD and what to expect. The process of insertion requires a doctor’s visit along with a pregnancy test and an STD screening. Obviously, it’d be counterproductive to get contraception inserted after conception. The more interesting story is why you have to be screened for STDs. By getting an IUD you increase your chance of getting Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID), which is a disease usually caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia passing through your vagina and cervix and invading your uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries. PID can cause infertility and ectopic pregnancies if left untreated, and since the IUD insertion process involves opening up the cervix to access the uterus it makes sense that they would need to confirm that you’re disease- and infection-free.
After you’re tested and everything comes back normal, you are free to have the insertion. It’s a pretty quick process and has been described as feeling like intense period cramps. Your cervix is opened, the IUD is pushed inside using something that looks like a straw, and then the straw is removed and the strings hanging off the IUD are measured and cut. Boom, bang, done. But what about these mysterious strings? Many people are afraid these strings will be felt during intercourse or that they’ll hang out like a tampon string, but that is not the case. IUD strings hang one to two inches in the vagina and are used to ensure the IUD stays in place. They are a way for the individual to check that everything’s still where it’s supposed to be. When you have your IUD removed by a professional, these strings aid in that process. There’s been some supposition that they soften over time, but upon insertion, they’re around the same consistency and thinness of fishing line. Not a big deal at all—which might be why heterosexual men are so befuddled by them, since they don’t feel or see them.
As of now, the copper IUD is having a moment, as it doesn’t mess with hormones that could have annoying physical effects, and it lasts up to 10 years! This bad boy can even be used as emergency contraception. The actual process of how the copper IUD decapitates sperm is a small mystery but decapitate it does. One of the only unique side effects from the copper IUD is that your periods may be more heavy and your cramps more painful—a small price to pay for no babies AND no hormones AND 10 years of protection.
Chad—you got this. This is great for you. Get excited about birth control, a lack of babies and medical devices that make women’s lives easier and safer. Join the fight for improvement, research and destigmatization of women’s health. I promise you that knowing the difference between an IUD and a UTI will make you more attractive, mainly because the girl won’t have to explain why having sex with you would be really uncomfortable, and you wouldn’t try not to wear a condom because you really held onto that 99 percent effective tidbit. Moral of the story: IUDs are cool, women’s health is cool, teen pregnancy is not cool and Chads that know what IUDs are become more attractive and decrease the chance of being unwilling fathers.