Intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD): Contraceptive device, intrauterine (IUD): A device inserted into the uterus (womb) to prevent conception (pregnancy). The IUD can be a coil, loop, triangle, or T in shape made of plastic or metal. An IUD is inserted into the uterus by a health care professional. How IUDs prevent pregnancy is not entirely clear. They seem to prevent sperm and eggs from meeting by either immobilizing the sperm on their way to the fallopian tubes or by changing the uterine lining so the fertilized egg cannot implant in it. IUDs have one of the lowest failure rates of any contraceptive method. In the population for which the IUD is appropriate -- for those in a mutually monogamous, stable relationship who are not at a high risk of infection -- the IUD is considered a safe and effective contraception method. Today, serious complication from IUDs are rare, although IUD users may be at increased risk of developing pelvic inflammatory disease. Other side effects can include perforation of the uterus, abnormal bleeding, and cramps. Complications occur most often during and immediately after insertion.
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