IUD: Intrauterine Device

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1. What is it?
An IUD is a plastic “T” shaped device (about an inch and a half tall) that is placed inside a woman’s uterus. There are 2 types available—one with copper metal and one with progestin hormone. It is inserted during an office visit by a medical provider. The copper IUD lasts up to 10 years, and the hormone IUD lasts up to 5 years.

2. How does it work to prevent pregnancy?
The devices affect sperm so that the egg is not fertilized. The hormone IUD usually changes a female’s “periods”, with less bleeding over time.

3. How effective is it in preventing pregnancy?
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are extremely effective. Typically, none or 1 of 100 couples will become pregnant in the first year.

4. How effective is it in preventing STDs?
This method is NOT AT ALL effective in preventing STDs or HIV. If a person has sex, condoms must also be used to reduce the risk of STDs and HIV.

5. Other Things to Know about IUDs:

  • The couple does not have to remember to do something to prevent pregnancy 
  • The copper IUD lasts 10 years, and the hormone IUD lasts 5 years, unless they are removed sooner 


  • The woman must go to a doctor or clinic to receive an IUD 
  • The IUD must be inserted (and removed) by a health provider 
  • With the copper IUD, periods may be heavier or have more cramps 
  • With the hormone IUD, most females do not have regular monthly periods, but there is usually less bleeding 


Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was adapted from PlannedParenthood.org, and BigDecisions.org, websites that provide education about reproductive and sexual health. 

Special Thanks:
Melissa A. Habel, MPH
Health Scientist

Division of STD Prevention Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Dear Auntie, I have never had sex before so I know I do not have an std, but when I put 1 finger in my vagina it feels smooth but when I put the 2nd finger in the texture feels different it feels rough and hard kind of like a bone but it doesn’t hurt. Is this normal?

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