IUD Contraception

Gentle Insertion and the Wide Variety of IUDs: A Comprehensive Guide to IUD Insertions at Mint

When it comes to contraception, intrauterine devices (IUDs) have gained immense popularity due to their effectiveness, convenience, and long-term use. With advancements in medical technology, the process of IUD insertion has become increasingly less uncomfortable, and the variety of available options has expanded significantly.

Who Should Consider an IUD? 

IUDs are an excellent option for patients/couples who are looking for long term and highly effective birth control (>99%).  They are ideal because they prevent pregnancy without needing to remember to take a pill every day or use a barrier method each time (ex. condoms).  They also are suitable for those who do not tolerate hormones well and have very few side effects.  Once an IUD is removed, fertility resumes immediately making them a good choice even for couples who desire a pregnancy in the near future.  

The other major use for IUDs is in people who experience heavy or painful bleeding with their periods.  IUDs are commonly used during the perimenopausal transition to help manage these bothersome symptoms.  IUDs can drastically improve quality of life for some people.  

IUDs can also be used as emergency contraception when used after unprotected intercourse or potential contraceptive failure and before implantation

Gentle IUD insertions and removals: A Revolutionary Approach

One of the primary concerns associated with IUDs has traditionally been the perceived discomfort during the insertion procedure. However, modern advancements have revolutionized the process, making it far more comfortable for patients. We use the following techniques at Mint to reduce discomfort with IUD insertions:

Education: Studies show that when patients are fully informed and prepared for an IUD insertion, it minimizes their anxiety and discomfort.  At Mint, we pride ourselves in taking the time to walk you through the process and what you can expect on the day of, and after the insertion.  Our warm, stress free environment helps to make the overall experience as smooth and relaxed as possible.

Local Anesthesia: We use a local anesthetic on all patients to freeze the cervix and minimize pain with procedure.

Cervical Dilation: Prior to IUD insertion, the cervix can be softened and dilated using medication.  This allows for an easier insertion in select patients.

Proper Timing: We are very careful to schedule the IUD insertion during or right after a menstrual period.  During this time, the cervix is naturally more open and allows for a smoother process.

Ultrasound – Guided IUD Insertion: In all cases, Mint healthcare providers opt for ultrasound guidance during IUD insertion.  This allows us to visualize and measure the uterus before and after the insertion to enhance safety and precision.

Ultrasound-guided IUD Insertion: Enhanced Precision And Safety

In all cases, Mint healthcare providers opt for ultrasound guidance during IUD insertion.  This allows us to visualize and measure the uterus before and after the insertion to enhance safety and precision.

Enhanced Precision: By visualizing the uterus prior to insertion, ultrasound guidance allows for an easier insertion and more precise placement.  This reduces the risk of improper positioning and increases the overall effectiveness of the contraception.  

Safety Assurance: Ultrasound guidance helps us avoid potential complications and provides visual confirmation of the IUDs correct placement.  It also allows us to rule out patients for whom an IUD is not indicated based on structural anomalies of the uterus.

Increased Patient Comfort: Knowing the size, contour and shape of the uterus prior to IUD insertion allows us to accurately navigate the insertion process, minimizing discomfort and reducing the need for additional attempt

Types of IUDs

Copper IUD: Also known as the non-hormonal IUD, it is made of plastic with a copper coil wrapped around the stem or arms. It works by releasing copper ions into the uterus, which are toxic to sperm and eggs, preventing fertilization. Copper IUDs can provide contraception for up to 10 years.

Hormonal IUDs: These IUDs release progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone, into the uterus. They work by thickening cervical mucus, thinning the uterine lining, and sometimes inhibiting ovulation. Hormonal IUDs have the advantage of lighter periods and reduced menstrual cramps. The available brands and durations of hormonal IUDs differ. Some common examples include:

Mirena 14 mcg of hormone released per day: Effective for up to 5 years.
Kyleena 9 mcg of hormone released per day: Effective for up to 5 years.
It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the most suitable option for your specific needs.

IUD Safety Considerations

While IUDs are generally safe and well-tolerated, they do carry some risks. It’s important to note that these risks are relatively rare, but it’s crucial to be aware of them. Here are some potential risks associated with IUDs:

Expulsion: In some cases, the IUD may come out of the uterus on its own. This typically happens within the first few months after insertion. If you suspect your IUD has been expelled, it’s important to check with a healthcare professional. This will happen in 3-5% of women post insertion. Risk factors for expulsion are being <20 years of age, having heavy periods, and past expulsions.

Perforation: Rarely, during the insertion process, the IUD may perforate the uterus, meaning it goes through the uterine wall. This risk is higher during insertion in women who have recently given birth or have abnormal uterine anatomy. Uterine perforation occurs <1 in 1000 insertions.

Infection: Although the risk is low, there is a small chance of developing an infection after IUD insertion. This risk is slightly higher during the first 20 days after insertion. Signs of infection may include severe pain, fever, abnormal discharge, or a foul odor. At Mint, we also do an in house screen for all patients to minimize the risk of infection. Uterine infections occur < 1 in 200 insertions.

Irregular Bleeding and Cramping: Some patients experience changes to their menstrual bleeding patterns after getting an IUD.  This may mean heavier or longer periods, irregular bleeding, spotting or increased cramping.  These side effects usually improve over time, especially with hormonal IUDS.  By 12 months, 20-50% of women have very light or no bleeding with the hormonal IUDs.

Hormonal Side Effects: 1-10% of women with Mirena IUD will experience some progestin-related side effects. These may include acne, oily skin, breast pain, nausea, headaches, hair loss, ovarian cyst, vaginal discharge, and/or mood changes. It is rare for people with the Kyleena to experience progestin-related side effects, as the dose is much lower than the Mirena. There are no hormonal side effects with a copper IUD.

Allergic Reactions: While uncommon, some people may have an allergic reaction to the materials used in the IUD, particularly copper or the hormone-releasing component of hormonal IUDs. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include rash, itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Seek medical help if you experience these symptoms.

It’s important to discuss these risks, as well as the benefits of using an IUD, with your healthcare provider. They can provide personalized information based on your medical history and help you make an informed decision about contraception.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) provide an effective and convenient contraceptive option for women. With advancements in pain management techniques and the wide range of IUD options available, the procedure has become increasingly pain-free. Furthermore, the use of ultrasound guidance during IUD insertion offers enhanced precision, safety, and patient comfort, particularly in challenging cases.

IUD Doctor Referral Form

Download here

IUD Cost

Beginning April 1, 2023, PharmaCare will pay for many prescription contraceptives for any B.C. resident. You can get them at most community pharmacies, with a prescription and your BC Services Card.

Hormonal intrauterine device (IUD)
Copper intrauterine devices (IUD)

As always, it is crucial to consult with your Mint healthcare provider who can guide you through the process, discuss the benefits and potential risks, and determine the most suitable IUD and insertion technique for your individual circumstances. By staying informed and working closely with your healthcare provider, you can confidently choose IUD contraception, knowing that the procedure can be painless and safe, with ultrasound guidance providing an additional level of precision and assurance.

Our highly trained naturopathic physicians are proud to offer IUD insertion services at Mint.

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