How effective are IUDs at preventing pregnancy? 7 questions with April Rosalez, D.O.
By Kristy Bleizeffer Aug 30, 2016
An IUD, or Intrauterine Device, is a contraceptive that is in inserted into a woman’s uterus, typically during a short outpatient office visit.
They are becoming more popular with women for their convenience, longevity and reversibility. There are no birth-control pills to forget to take; depending on the type and other factors, IUDs can prevent pregnancies for between 3 to 10 years; and they are typically easily removed with a short office visit. (While insertion is typically a short procedure, you do need to get pre-approval from your insurance company.)
April Rosalez, D.O., now offers IUD insertion and removal at Mesa Primary Care. Below, she answers seven common questions about the contraceptive.
1. How to IUDs work?
There are currently two types of IUDs: hormonal and copper.
Hormonal IUDs, such as Mirena and Skyla, work by slowly releasing Levonorgestrel – a progestin hormone used in many birth controls – locally into the uterus. It then prevents pregnancy in what is believed to be three collaborative ways:
- Thickening the mucus to prevent sperm entering the uterus.
- Inhibiting sperm from reaching or fertilizing the egg.
- Lastly, thinning the lining of the uterus.
The copper IUD, known as Paragard, has a different mechanism. This produces an inflammatory reaction within the uterus that is toxic to sperm and prevents fertilization.
2. How effective are IUDs at preventing pregnancies?
IUDs are greater than 99 percent effective and can prevent pregnancies for up to 10 years, depending on a variety of factors. IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
3. Who is a good candidate for an IUD?
As with most birth control, this is something that you and your healthcare provider will need to determine together. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation and ask questions.
4. What can I expect during the procedure?
There will be a pre-procedure visit to make sure that you are a good candidate for this type of birth control and to start the pre-approval process with your insurance company. Once this has been determined, we will walk through the procedure step by step.
The device itself is small, typically T-shaped and made of plastic or metal. It has strings for removal.
Generally speaking, you will take ibuprofen or a medication similar before the procedure to help with discomfort. Your provider will measure the size of the uterus, then insert the IUD through your cervical opening. The IUDs strings are then cut to a length you are able to check. Your provider will also give post-care instructions at that time.
5. Are there any side effects?
Side effects vary with each individual but can include: Abnormal bleeding patterns, lack of a period, increase in discharge, swelling of the genitalia, breast pain, benign ovarian cyst complications, abdominal/pelvic pain, headaches/migraines, back pain, acne and mood swings.
Less common side effects can include expulsion (your body kicks the IUD out), alopecia (hair loss), hirsutism (male pattern hair growth), nausea and pelvic inflammation/endometriosis.
6. Can I have it removed if I decide I want children or more children?
Yes, absolutely. That is what makes IUDs such a great option. They can be inserted and left in until you are ready to have children.
Most of the time, IUDs are easily removed by your healthcare provider by simply applying pressure to the strings and the IUD follows. It usually takes just a few minutes.
7. Does insurance cover this procedure?
Yes, many insurance companies cover IUDs. You will need to get pre-approval process before insertion.
Dr. April Rosalez is board certified in family medicine, and specializes in pediatrics. She sees patients of all ages at Mesa Primary Care.
Dr. Rosalez grew up in Shelby, Mich., and became interested in medicine when her sister contracted Lyme disease and was very sick for several years.
“Between the naturopathic and the medical doctor approach, she is doing great today. When it was time to go to medical school, I wanted to pick something that incorporated both approaches. I picked osteopathy because it seemed to consider the whole patient along with the medical training,” she said.
A D.O., or a doctor of osteopathic medicine, is a fully-licensed physician who focuses on whole-body wellness and lifestyle education rather than focusing on particular set of symptoms. Along with managing disease with traditional medicine, they teach prevention, believe that all systems of the body work together and use a hands-on approach to treating patients.
“We use our hands for healing,” she said. “I always tell people to think of me as your doctor, but I’m also your chiropractor, your massage therapist and your kinesiologist as well.”
Dr. Rosalez trained at Wyoming Medical Center for two years and completed her residency at the University of Wyoming Family Medicine Residency in Casper.
“To be in family medicine, you have to love your community. You are your patients’ doctor, but you’re also their support system and sometimes there is a little bit of social work thrown in there as well,” she said. “I like when I run into one of my patients in the grocery store, because it makes Casper feel like a small community and that I was able to help someone.”