How Long Can I Have An IUD?

How Long Can I Have An IUD?

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are an increasingly popular birth control method for women in the United States, particularly among younger women. Once implanted, the IUD “works” on its own, eliminating the need to remember to take a pill, use a messy gel, or visit the doctor for frequent injections. 

Slim and T-shaped IUDs are also available in two types: hormonal IUDs and non-hormonal IUDs that use copper instead of hormones. That makes IUDs an especially popular choice for women who want or need reliable birth control that doesn’t rely on hormones.

And, of course, IUDs are extremely reliable — in fact, they’re one of the most reliable forms of birth control available, preventing more than 99% of pregnancies. Better still, IUDs can stay in place for a long time, with the specific amount of time dependent on the type of IUD you choose.

At Desert Star Institute for Family Planning, DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, offers hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs, helping women weigh the pros and cons of each. Here, learn the differences between these two types and how long each type of IUD remains effective before it needs to be replaced.

Hormonal vs. copper IUDs

The length of time an IUD lasts depends in part on whether it uses hormones or copper to prevent pregnancy.

Hormonal IUDs

These IUDs are designed to release a steady, predictable “dose” of hormones that thicken the cervical mucus, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Hormonal IUDs also help prevent the egg from leaving the ovary.

Copper IUDs

This type of IUD uses a copper coating instead of hormones. Copper creates an environment that’s inhospitable to sperm. The copper prevents sperm from reaching the egg without harming you.

Both types of IUDs look similar and are inserted and removed during a simple office visit. IUDs are a reversible type of birth control, which means if you decide to get pregnant in the future, you can begin trying to conceive right after the IUD is removed.

How long an IUD “lasts”

One primary reason why IUDs are so popular is their longevity. Once in place, an IUD can continue to work for years, providing women with reliable, “hands-off” contraception that supports their lifestyle goals.

Hormonal IUDs can last anywhere from 3-8 years, depending on the brand. Copper IUDs can last up to 10 years. When the IUD reaches its “expiration date,” Dr. Taylor can remove it and replace it with a new one at the same office visit.

While IUDs are convenient, it’s important to note that — like many other forms of contraception — they don’t protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). It’s still important to practice safe sex and use a condom for added (although not 100% complete) protection against germs.

Find out if an IUD is right for you

IUDs are a safe, reliable birth control method for many women, but they’re not always an ideal choice. To learn more about IUDs and whether they’re right for you, request an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Taylor and the Desert Star Family Planning team in Phoenix, Arizona, today.

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