How does an IUD work?
The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic device containing a copper wire or a hormone capsule.
Normally, it doesn’t affect ovulation. In most cases, it prevents egg fertilization and implantation.
The main IUD effect comes from its interaction with the uterine wall.
As the birth control device is inserted into the uterus, the body reacts to the foreign object instantaneously with an aseptic inflammation, which doesn’t require treatment.
It is accompanied by the release of active substances having a spermicidal effect (i.e., destroying or damaging sperm) making it difficult for the sperm to meet the egg.
Additionally, the active substances can damage a fertilized egg.
However, this is not always sufficient for adequate contraception, which is why the IUD contains additional substances (copper or hormones), making it one of the most effective methods against unwanted pregnancy.
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IUD insertion pain: why might you feel it?
Most women feel lower abdominal cramping or back pain after the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD). This is the body’s normal reaction to a foreign object in the uterus.
The IUD irritates the uterine wall and triggers increased production of prostaglandins (substances causing uterine contractions during menstruation).
One might say that this is the way the uterus tries to get rid of the foreign object and push it out, which is why you can feel cramps and pain.
Doctors recommend taking painkillers to relieve the unpleasant symptoms.
Typically, the discomfort goes away in a few days, but some women may require more time to adapt.
If you are experiencing severe pain, be sure to see a doctor.
Who invented the IUD?
The history of the IUD began in 1909 when German physician Richard Richter proposed to put a few silk and bronze strands twisted into a ring into the womb.
The idea was great, but its execution was poor. The first designs were hard and hurt the uterus, causing pain and bleeding.
With the invention of flexible plastic in 1960, the prototype of the modern T-shaped spiral appeared. This material was comfortable, but not efficient enough to fulfill its contraception functions.
Nine years later, a Chilean doctor, Jamie Zipper, discovered the unexpected property of copper ions as perfect sperm killers.
Finally, the ideal form and content came together! That’s how the IUD effectiveness reached its peak.
The first months of using the IUD: what to expect during your periods
In the first months after an intrauterine device (IUD) has been inserted, the body will adapt to the foreign object in the uterus, which will affect your periods and general well-being.
Menstrual IUD bleeding can become more prolonged and abundant, pain can intensify, and spotting may sometimes occur mid-cycle.
This is due to aseptic inflammation and defective endometrium rejection.
The unpleasant symptoms tend to disappear after 3–6 months and are not a cause for IUD removal.
If you are experiencing severe pain and having too much discharge, you should consult a gynecologist.
The doctor can prescribe special medications to minimize the symptoms, as well as iron supplements for the IUD period of adaptation.
If the condition doesn’t get better, this may mean that the IUD doesn’t work for you. The doctor may consider removing it.
All in all, an intrauterine device is just one of the birth control methods you can choose from. Stay tuned for more IUD articles by Flo!