Birth Control Basics: The Intrauterine Device (IUD)

By marthe

What is it?

The IUD or intrauterine device is a little T-shaped plastic object that is placed into your uterus by a provider. In the US, there are five different types you can choose from.  There is both a hormonal and non hormonal option that prevents pregnancy from three to twelve (!) years. 


The hormonal IUDs are Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena and Liletta. They are all the same shape – tiny, plastic and T-shaped and each release a small dose of the synthetic hormone progestin called levonorgestrel. This thickens the cervical mucus, making it very difficult for sperm to reach the uterus (similar to the implant and mini-pill). The differences between each brand vary slightly in size, the level of hormones released and how long they last against pregnancy.


There is one IUD that’s  non-hormonal and that is ParaGuard. It has small pieces of copper on it, which safely interferes with the sperm’s activity.

How do you use it?

The IUD is placed into your uterus by a doctor and is left for up to 12 years depending on the IUD. The hormonal ones can last from three to six years, while the non-hormonal can last as long as 12 years.

How much does it cost?

The price differs between the different IUDs, here are the different range of prices for the different IUDs:


Hormonal Non-Hormonal
Type Mirena Kyleena Liletta Skyla ParaGard
Total price out of pocket $500 – $858 $500 – $858 $50-$684 $650 – $714 $500 – $739
Price per month over 1 year $41 – $72 $41 – $72 $4 – $57 $54 – $60 $41 – $62
Price per month over 3 years $14 – $24 $14 – $24 $1 – $19 $18 – $20 $14 – $21
Price per month over 5 years $8 – $14 $8 – $14 $4 – $6
Price per month 10 years $8 – $12
With insurance Free under most plans

What are the side effects?

The most common side effects are spotting, increased period flow (for the users of ParaGard), cramps and backaches. That being said, give your body time to adjust before becoming concerned. Usually, it just takes some time for your body to get used to the IUD. However, if you do experience long-term side effects or more severe ones, you should contact your doctor.

 Is this right for you?

IUD is a long term contraception that works well with most types of people, including people who breastfeed, are over 35 years old and smoke. As stated by several experts, “If you’re a healthy woman, you’re probably a good candidate for the IUD”. The hormonal IUDs can also lighten your periods and reduce cramps. Moreover, it is low maintenance and there is no day-to-day remembering to avoid getting pregnant, the only thing to remember is a check up after insertion no later than three months, and also the date it has to be removed.

Want the Pill, Patch or Ring?