Women's Health

All About IUDs: Basics of IUD Insertion and Placement

Using 3D ultrasound can make IUD insertion and placement quick and easy. Here's how to educate your patients on the procedure.

Despite the incredible number of advantages that intrauterine devices (IUDs) offer, this long-acting but reversible contraceptive is still shrouded in some myth and doubt. Eliminating the mystery around IUD insertion and placement will benefit women, the doctors who provide information and services to them, and the entities that must cover the costs of unplanned pregnancies.

The rate of unintended pregnancies in the U.S. is one of the highest in the developed world, and the costs are significant for both families and the government. Spreading the word about how IUDs are safe, effective and reversible can bring about a positive change in women's lives and help build a strong business foundation for your practice. To do that, you must be able to tell your patient what she wants to know about IUDs and the procedure as a whole.

What Is an IUD?

An IUD is a small, flexible device that, when inserted into the uterus, provides long-term, hassle-free contraception. Research has shown that IUDs are superior to other contraceptive methods, such as birth control pills, patches and rings. With no daily reminders or refills needed, patients can simply forget about IUDs after insertion.

The IUD works by preventing sperm from fertilizing eggs within the uterus. This is accomplished by either immobilizing the sperm or thickening the mucus in the cervix to block its entry.

There are two different types of IUDs: copper and hormonal. Copper IUDs are T-shaped and wrapped in a tiny bit of copper. They can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years. Hormonal IUDs are also T-shaped, but they are coated in plastic and contain a hormone that prevents pregnancy for three to six years, depending on the brand used.

Where Is the IUD Placed?

As for the IUD insertion procedure, the device is inserted during a short exam using a vaginal speculum and a special tool that slides the IUD through the opening of the cervix. It can be inserted at any time of the month and even right after giving birth.

A quick post-insertion ultrasound can accurately verify whether the IUD is in the correct position within the uterus. Ultrasounds are an efficient way to check placement and can be done right in the doctor's office, with results available immediately. To avoid any concern about displacement later on, annual exams can be conducted for surveillance.

Is IUD Insertion Painful?

While cramping and spotting are normal during the first three months after an IUD has been inserted, sometimes an IUD can become malpositioned, descend into the cervix or become embedded in the wall of the uterus, causing pain for the patient.

A malpositioned IUD can be identified with a pelvic ultrasound. 3D ultrasound is the most accurate way to assess IUD placement, and the evaluation can be conducted directly in the physician's office. If necessary, the IUD can be removed and a new one inserted within the same day.

Making IUD Placement Quick and Easy

Not only can you provide invaluable contraceptive information to your patient, but you can also become a dependable one-stop-shop for all of their IUD-related needs. 3D ultrasound allows you to conduct a quick and easy IUD insertion and assessment, even if you're not an ultrasound expert.

Research from Elsevier Health Sciences reported that, due to dramatic improvements in technology in recent years, ultrasound is safer and more cost-effective than other modalities for imaging the female pelvis. For this reason, it is also the best method to investigate pelvic pain caused by a malpositioned IUD.

3D ultrasound is the best way to determine whether an IUD is correctly positioned because it uses 3D volume views of the uterus. Providing access to the coronal plane shows the position of the IUD in relation to the endometrium and surrounding myometrium. This allows for efficient evaluation of the IUD position without radiation, discomfort or follow-up appointments.

With the help of 3D ultrasound systems, physicians have the tools they need to confidently answer all their patients' questions about IUD insertion and placement.