How to Be a Candidate for Getting an IUD

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a great birth control choice if you're looking for effective, long-term, reversible contraception. Currently, there are three types of IUDs that you can get:

  • Mirena releases 52mg of the progestin levonorgestrel over a seven-year period.
  • Skyla releases 13.5mg of the progestin levonorgestrel over a three-year period.
  • Paragard is the copper IUD that is hormone-free.
Hand holding an IUD

All three of these IUDs must be inserted into your uterus by a qualified medical professional.

How to Get an IUD

Before getting an IUD, you will need to make an appointment with your healthcare provider to see if Mirena, Skyla or Paragard is the right contraceptive option for you. It is important that you honestly discuss your medical history and sexual lifestyle with your healthcare provider because an IUD isn't right for all women.

Your healthcare provider will most likely perform a pelvic exam to be sure that your cervix, vagina, and internal organs are healthy. You may be also be tested for sexually transmitted infections, vaginal infections, precancerous cervical cells, or any other condition that needs to be treated before an IUD can be safely inserted.

If it is determined that you are a good candidate for an IUD, your healthcare provider will most likely schedule you for a follow-up appointment to have your Mirena, Skyla or Paragard IUD inserted. IUDs can be inserted at any time during your menstrual cycle (your healthcare provider may conduct a pregnancy test to make sure that you're not pregnant) or immediately after a first-trimester abortion.

  • If you want immediate pregnancy protection (and not to have to use a backup birth control method), Mirena and Skyla should be inserted within seven days after your period begins. If inserted at any other time during your menstrual cycle, you will need to use another contraception method during the first seven days after insertion.
  • Paragard is immediately effective, so it does not matter where you are in your menstrual cycle when it is inserted.
  • Paragard can also be inserted up to five days after unprotected intercourse as a form of emergency contraception.

After your first period (or at least no longer than three months after your IUD insertion), you should have a checkup to make sure your IUD is still in place. After that, regular checkups can be done at the same time as your routine gynecological exam.

Reasons Why You Should Not Get an IUD 

You should not get an IUD if you:

  • Have had pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) (unless you have had a normal pregnancy after this infection went away)
  • May be pregnant
  • Have unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Get infections easily (due to immune system problems or intravenous drug use)
  • Have had a pelvic infection in the past three months following either childbirth or an abortion
  • Might have cancer of the cervix or uterus
  • Have more than one sexual partner or a sexual partner who has more than one sexual partner
  • Have an untreated pelvic infection or inflammation of the cervix
  • Have a condition that changes the shape of the uterus (such as a large fibroid or tumor)
  • Already have an IUD
  • Have had postpartum or post-abortion endometritis (inflammation of the uterine lining) in the past three months
  • Have had or are at risk of having an ectopic pregnancy
  • Are allergic to any of the components in Skyla or Mirena (such as levonorgestrel, silicone, polyethylene, silver) or Paragard (such as copper)

Additionally, you should not get a Skyla or Mirena IUD if you:

You should also not get a Paragard IUD if you:

Checking Your IUD Strings

After you get an IUD, you will need to periodically check your strings. Mirena, Skyla, and ParaGard all have strings attached to the device that hang down through the cervix into the vagina.

A healthcare provider uses these strings to remove the IUD. If the strings are cut long enough, you can make sure the IUD is in place by feeling for them. Some women may have strings cut shorter if they are felt by a sexual partner. When this is the case, the strings may be too short to be able to check.

You should feel for your IUD strings once a month, between periods. It is also a good idea to check every few days for the first few months after you get your IUD to make sure that it is still properly in place.

That being said, one of the greatest advantages of Mirena, Skyla, and ParaGard is that, for the most part, once you get an IUD, you really don’t have to think much about birth control.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nelson AL, Massoudi N. New developments in intrauterine device use: focus on the US. Open Access J Contracept. 2016;7:127-141. doi:10.2147/OAJC.S85755

  2. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. MIRENA (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) [packaging label].

  3. Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. SKYLA (levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) [packaging label].

  4. CooperSurgical, Inc. PARAGARD (intrauterine copper contraceptive) [packaging label].

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Classifications for Intrauterine Devices.

By Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC
Dawn Stacey, PhD, LMHC, is a published author, college professor, and mental health consultant with over 15 years of counseling experience.