The IUD is fucking’s best-kept secret.
A whopping 99% of women with IUDs, or intrauterine devices, are happy with them. The tiny plastic T, just over an inch long, is almost 100% effective. Once a doctor inserts it waaaay up at the top of your uterus, where nary a dick can tread, an IUD basically puts up a sign that says “STAY OUT, SPERM.”
(For you science nerds, it makes the mucus in your cervix thicker, which stops sperm from getting to your eggs or fertilizing them. And it makes the lining of your uterus thinner, so even if there were a fertilized egg, it wouldn’t be able to stick to your uterine wall and turn into a kid.) Here’s a map:
With all this awesomeness, why do only about 10% of U.S. women have one? You can thank plain ol’ ignorance, misinformation, and ’70s health scares. (Real talk: They’re safe. “Women using an IUD have no increased risk of pelvic infection or infertility,” says Bedsider.)
So to spread the word, here are 10 reasons why IUDs are amazing, as illustrated by Broad City gifs. (Note: I’m not a doctor. Talk to your gyno first, obvs.)
There are 3 IUDs on the market right now: the Skyla, the Mirena, and the Paragard. The first two have a teeny amount of hormones (progestin) and the Paragard has zero hormones (it’s made of copper). The Skyla is the newest and lasts three years. The Mirena lasts for five, and the Paragard lasts for 10. That’s right: up to a decade of not having to worry about getting knocked up.
Forget to take the pill? Or take it several hours late and then worry that it won’t work? NO MORE. You don’t even have to think about your IUD. It just sits up in there, doing its thing. No phone alarm needed. As Time notes, about half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, which is way too high. “If you can eliminate a lot of [unwanted pregnancies] by taking out the human ability to screw up, you’ve done fabulous stuff,” Yale professor Dr. Mary Jane Minkin told Time.
With the Skyla and the Mirena, the two IUDs with hormones, your period is either lighter or goes away. (The Paragard can actually make it heavier.) The Hairpin’s super-thorough IUD guide says 90% of women with a Mirena have lighter periods after a year, and 20% don’t have a period at all. Think of all that money you’ll save on tampons, pads, or the DivaCup…plus the ability to fearlessly wear white pants.
IUDs are 99% effective! As one doctor told The New York Times, “When women say to me that they want to use the pill, I say, ‘That’s fine, but it’s 20 times less effective than an IUD.’” The only contraception that’s more effective than IUDs is the birth control implant. No babies unless you want ’em, folks.
In the 1970s, Americans were freaked out by the Dalkon Shield; not only because it sounded like a Star Trek villian, but because this IUD accidentally caused infections, miscarriages, and sometimes death. Aaaa! Thankfully, today’s IUDs have been reengineered (they look like a T instead of a spider) and are much safer. But most Americans and even many doctors don’t know this, which is why IUD use in the U.S. is much lower than Europe’s. (One-fourth of Norwegian women using birth control have an IUD!)
IUDs are only about an inch long. Whoever you’re sexing won’t be able to feel it, because it’s way up in your uterus. You don’t have to put anything in (like the Nuva Ring) or slap anything on your arm, like the patch. Nope. It’s just there, and nobody can tell! Pretty dope, right?
If you didn’t like the hormones in the pill, or they messed you up, good news. The Paragard has zero hormones in it. And the Mirena and Skyla release about one-tenth as much hormones a day as the typical Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo pill. Neither the Mirena nor the Skyla contain estrogen. Plus, IUDs don’t create a false menstrual cycle like the pill does. (Learn more about the hormones in various types of birth control here.)
Without insurance, an IUD can run you up to $1,200. Yikes. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, though, your insurance or Medicaid should completely cover it. (Thanks, Obama, for serious!) “All [insurance] plans are required to cover contraceptive methods and related services, including counseling, insertion, and removal, without copays or deductibles,” says RH Reality Check.
Your insurance might need a doctor’s note explaining why you need an IUD instead of cheaper birth control, like the pill, but they legally can’t deny it to you. If they do, RH Reality Check says to get in touch with the National Women’s Law Center hotline for help (1-866-PILL-4-US or [email protected]). Free IUDs? Hell yeah!
IUDs do not make you infertile. As soon as your gyno takes out your IUD, you can get pregnant. So if you just want to avoid babies until the time is right, you have nothing to worry about! Easier than getting your tubes tied and then having to reverse it.
It only takes about five minutes to get an IUD inserted. This IS pretty painful for most women, though; not gonna lie. Ask your OB-GYN what dosage of painkillers to take beforehand. You can definitely drive home after, and you can go back to work even, but I’d use it as an excuse to lie on the couch with a milkshake and some Netflix.
Remember, an IUD doesn’t protect you against herpes or any other STI. And during the first few months, as your body adjusts to it, sometimes you get crazy, dizzying cramps. Some people get depressed or bad acne. And in really rare cases, you could have an ectopic pregnancy, which is when an embryo ends up in one of your Fallopian tubes instead of your uterus. Your OB GYN will explain all of this stuff.
But mostly, in my experience, IUDs are right up there with cupcakes and unicorns. Get one and enjoy years of baby-free boning!
Do you have an IUD? Do you love it?