The IUD is a highly effective, low-maintenance birth control option. Get informed about the IUD and other methods and then choose the option that works best for you. Are you an NYC health care provider? Review our provider resources.

The IUD is a small, T-shaped birth control device that a health care provider inserts into a woman's uterus. There are two types - one contains hormones, the other does not.

Maybe the IUD

What are the benefits of the IUD?

  • You can 'get it and forget it.' Once you have the IUD, there is no daily pill or action that you need to take to prevent pregnancy.
  • It is more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
  • It can work for a long time, so if you know you don't want a pregnancy within the next several years, it may be a great option for you.
  • It is safe for most women and teens, whether you've had a baby or not.
  • No one will know you have an IUD, unless you tell them.
  • You can become pregnant quickly once it's removed. That's good if you want to try to get pregnant right away, but if you don't, you'll need to start another birth control method.

What are possible side effects of the IUD?

  • Some women may have spotting in between periods. This usually goes away within the first 3-6 months.
  • Some women with the non-hormonal IUD experience heavier periods.
  • Some women with the hormonal IUD may stop having periods while using it. This is a common side effect and is totally safe. For many women, this is an advantage!
  • Some women may experience cramps and backaches.

How does the IUD prevent pregnancy?

The IUD works primarily by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg.

What are my IUD options?

Releases a small amount of progestin hormone Hormone-free, contains copper
Effective between 3-5 years Effective ten years
Brands: Mirena®, Skyla®, and Liletta™ Brands: ParaGard® Copper T

How is the IUD inserted?

Your health care provider inserts the IUD into the uterus (womb). While you can get the IUD inserted any time of the month, scheduling the insertion when your cervix is naturally a little open (during your period and during ovulation) may reduce discomfort. You'll likely feel some cramping during insertion, but it should be minimal by the time you head home. If you have cramping over the next few days, ibuprofen or other pain relievers and a heating pad can help. If you still have pain after a few weeks, or if you have fever, unusual bleeding or discharge, check in with your provider.

What do I need to do after insertion?

Not much. There are little strings that hang down into the vagina (but not outside the vagina like a tampon, though) that you'll be able to feel. From time to time, you should check that the IUD strings are in place. You can check this yourself by using your finger to feel for the strings near your cervix, or you can get your provider to do it. Some partners say they can feel the strings during sex. If this happens, you can ask your provider to shorten the strings. And, with time, the strings become softer. If, however, you feel the IUD while checking the strings or if you or your partner experiences discomfort during intercourse, check with your provider.

What if I want to have the IUD removed?

The IUD can be removed at any time by a provider if you're ready to get pregnant, want to change birth control methods, or no longer want it. The removal process is similar to the insertion process. Before having the IUD inserted, ask your provider about removal as well.

How much will I have to pay for the IUD?

Many health care providers offer birth control for free or low-cost. Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance plans are required to cover birth control with no copay - check with your insurance to see what's covered for both insertion and removal of the IUD. You may also be eligible for the Medicaid Family Planning Benefit Program, a public health insurance program for New Yorkers that pays for family planning services. Call 1-800-541-2831 to find a place to enroll.

Does the IUD protect against HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

No, the IUD does not protect against HIV or other STIs, so always use a condom. If you are at risk for exposure to HIV, learn about PrEP.

Can I get an IUD if I once had an STI?

Yes, you can get an IUD if you previously had an STI. On the day of the IUD insertion, your provider will test you for STIs to make sure you don't have a current infection. If you do, insertion may be delayed until you are treated. If you get an STI after your IUD has been inserted, you can usually be treated without removing the IUD.

Where can I get an IUD?

There are lots of providers in NYC who can talk with you about whether the IUD may be right for you — use the NYC Health Map or review our provider list (PDF) to find a provider near you.

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