An intrauterine device (IUD) is a method of birth control that is placed inside the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It is not clearly understood how the IUD prevents pregnancy, and different types of IUDs may prevent pregnancy in different ways.
All IUDs have a plastic string that extends through the opening of the cervix into the vagina. The string allows a woman to check that the IUD is in place. It also allows a health professional to remove the device at the woman's request or at the end of its effectiveness (3 to 5 years, depending on the type).
The IUD is very effective at preventing pregnancy.
Current as of: September 17, 2013
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Public health alerts include information about outbreaks, advisories and product recalls. Click on the links below to read the most recent alerts, or visit our Public Health Alerts web page.
If you are looking for health services in your community, you can use our directory to FIND hospitals, clinics, and other resources.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
If you or someone in your care has chest pains, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding, it could be life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number immediately. If you are concerned about a possible poisoning or exposure to a toxic substance, call Poison Control now at 1-800-567-8911.