An IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device) is designed to fit into the uterine cavity and be worn continuously. It is a very safe and effective means of reversible contraception. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology practice guidelines, an IUD can be inserted any time after delivery, even in the delivery room, allowing 10 minutes between delivery of the placenta and insertion of the IUD. However, rates of spontaneous expulsion of the device may be higher when it’s inserted immediately after delivery, so the presence of the string attached to the device should be checked frequently by the woman herself in the first few weeks.
Some OBs prefer to wait four to six weeks after delivery to insert the device, but the patient must use another contraceptive method in the interim since women can ovulate and get pregnant in the first few weeks after delivery. IUDs are also safe to use while breastfeeding—even those that contain progestin hormones (e.g., Progestasert).
—Carolyn R. Givens, MD, Fertility specialist at Pacific Fertility Center in San Francisco