Sexual Health

What You Need to Know Before Getting an IUD

Alexis Bryan11 Jan 2022

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are an effective form of reversible birth control. They are effective for three to 10 years, depending on which one you choose to get, and are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Before getting an IUD, it is important to be informed on the types, risks, and potential side effects.

Now with Mira, you can make an appointment with a virtual care provider to discuss getting an IUD. Mira offers $5 virtual care appointments in addition to low-cost lab testing and discounted prescription medication.

What is an IUD

IUDs are small devices placed into the uterus through the cervix that work to prevent pregnancy by preventing fertilization. They are known as long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs) because they can be used to prevent pregnancy for several years.

There are two types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal. Once inserted, hormonal IUDs release a synthetic form of progesterone which thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg. Hormonal IUDs can also prevent eggs from leaving the ovaries in the first place.

Non-hormonal IUDs essentially do the same thing but by releasing copper and a natural spermicide. Currently, there is only one FDA-approved non-hormonal IUD and four FDA-approved hormonal IUDs.

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Types of IUDs

 Years EffectivePossible Side Effects
Hormonal
Mirena5 years
  • Inter-menstrual spotting in the early months
  • Reduces menstrual blood loss significantly
  • Hormone-related: headaches, nausea, breast tenderness, depression, cyst formation
Liletta6 years
Kyleena5 years
Skyla3 years
Non-hormonal
Paragard (copper IUD)10 years
  • Abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • Higher frequency or intensity of cramps/ pain

Cost of Getting an IUD

Without health insurance, the cost of getting an IUD can range between $500-$1,300 plus the cost of the visit for insertion and removal. Fortunately, many Planned Parenthood health centers offer programs to make it more affordable for people who don’t have health insurance. Community health centers (CHCs) provide reproductive health care, including IUDs, as part of their family planning services.

Private Health Insurance

For people with private health insurance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires plans to cover the copper IUD and at least one hormonal IUD without cost-sharing. Two-thirds of women pay $0 out-of-pocket for an IUD.

Medicaid

While federal law requires Medicaid programs to cover family planning services and supplies, coverage of IUDs varies by state. In the 39 states with the Medicaid expansion, women receive coverage for both the copper and at least one hormonal IUD, similarly to those with private health insurance.

IUD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Before getting an IUD it’s important to consider the types, risks, and potential side effects. Below you can learn more about IUDs as a LARC and if it’s right for you. 

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Does getting an IUD hurt?

The most common side effect of getting an IUD is cramping. Generally, women report minimal discomfort from getting an IUD, but it depends on the person. Even if the procedure was uncomfortable, 83% say the IUD was worth any discomfort. Patients can feel mild pain up to a week after IUD insertion.

On the day of your IUD insertion appointment, you can take pain relievers to help prevent cramps. You might want to ask someone to come with you to the appointment to drive you home afterward in case you feel a bit dizzy.

Can IUDs be used as emergency contraception?

The copper IUD can be used as emergency contraception if inserted within five days of unprotected sex. It begins working immediately after insertion.

When can I get an IUD?

As long as you’re not pregnant, you can get an IUD. There’s no minimum age for IUD insertion. Some women choose to get an IUD immediately after giving birth, or early postpartum (up to four weeks after delivery).

There is a 3 to 4 times increased risk of IUD expulsion postpartum compared to at other times. This means the IUD shifted from the correct position or left the uterus entirely. Signs your IUD has been expelled includes:

  • If you can feel the device itself
  • Severe pain and/or bleeding

Bottom Line

Getting an IUD is an increasingly common choice for women looking for long-term birth control. There are many factors to consider, but the decision ultimately comes down to patient preferences.

If you are unsure about getting an IUD, make a virtual care appointment with a provider today! For $25 per month, Mira allows you to make unlimited $5 virtual care appointments and provides access to exclusive prescription discounts and affordable urgent care appointments.