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reviewed 8/19/2018

IUDs: True or false?

If you're considering going on birth control or trying a new option, you might have thought about using an intrauterine device (IUD). IUDs are small, T-shaped devices that are placed in the uterus by a healthcare provider. Learn the facts and test your knowledge with this short quiz.

True or false: All IUDs work the same way.

False. There are two types of IUDs: Copper and hormonal. Both types prevent sperm from reaching the egg, but they do so in different ways. Hormonal IUDs release progestin, which thickens the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Copper IUDs have no hormones. They work by releasing copper ions, which are toxic to sperm. Both types may also make it harder for an egg to implant.

True or false: IUDs are more effective than birth control pills.

True. IUDs are more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, compared to 92 to 97 percent for birth control pills. It's easy to forget to take a birth control pill once in a while. But when an IUD is inserted, you don't need to think about using birth control every day or before every time you have sex. It's a "set it and forget it" method.

True or false: An IUD can be removed any time you want to get pregnant.

True. Hormonal IUDs can be used for three to five years, depending on the brand of IUD. Copper IUDs can be used for up to 10 years. But they don't have to be used for that long. If you decide you want to get pregnant sooner, your doctor can easily remove your IUD. You'll become fertile again almost immediately.

True or false: IUDs make your period heavier.

False. Most women don't have heavier periods with IUDs. In fact, hormonal IUDs can actually decrease pain and heavy bleeding during your period. It's true that copper IUDs can cause cramping, spotting and heavier periods early on, but those side effects usually decrease after the first year.

True or false: You can only get an IUD if you've already had children.

Some people—even some doctors—have misconceptions about the safety of IUDs for women who have never had children. But IUDs are safe and effective for women of all ages. That's why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends IUDs as a first-line birth control option for most women—including teens and women who haven't had children.

Interested in learning the pros and cons of other forms of birth control? Find out more in our Sexual Health topic center.

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Sources: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Sexual Health Association; National Institutes of Health

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