An IUD is an intrauterine device used for birth control. IUDs use copper, sometimes combined with spermicides, to prevent sperm from fertilizing the eggs so you do not become pregnant. Many women prefer IUDs over birth control pills and diaphragms because the IUD remains in place and provides continual birth control, while pills must be taken every day without forgetting and diaphragms must be inserted before sex and worn for several hours afterward.
IUDs are placed during a simple in-office procedure that takes just a few minutes to perform. The procedure begins the same way as a routine pelvic exam. A lubricated speculum is used to gently widen the vaginal canal so the IUD can be inserted through the cervical opening. In some cases, a local anesthetic may be used to numb the cervix before insertion, but most women experience very little discomfort. Once the position of the IUD is confirmed, the speculum is removed and the procedure is complete.
Your IUD comes “equipped” with a long tail that extends into your vagina. Following insertion, you'll be asked to feel for the tail so you know how to find it. Before having sex, you always should feel for the tail to ensure the IUD is still in the proper place.
Although it happens rarely, an IUD can fall out. That's why it's extremely important to check for the IUD tail before engaging in sex. If you cannot locate the tail, contact the office right away to schedule an appointment. In some cases, you may need a simple in-office procedure to determine if the IUD is inside your uterus or if it has fallen out completely.
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