An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small contraceptive device that your doctor can insert into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. IUDs are one of the most effective forms of contraception.

Over the course of a year, less than 1% of people who use an IUD have an unintended pregnancy.

Some IUDs contain the hormone levonorgestrel, a synthetic form of progestogen. Other IUDs contain copper but no hormones. Both types provide highly effective protection against unintended pregnancy.

Depending on the specific brand, IUDs last for 3­ to 10 years or more before they need to be removed or replaced. You can ask your doctor to remove the device at any time.

Common myths about IUDs may stop some people from considering this birth control option.

Read on to get the facts behind 10 IUD myths.

Fact: IUDs are safe for teens, as well as adults. They’re highly effective in preventing teenage pregnancy.

Fact: An IUD provides fully reversible protection against pregnancy and won’t affect your fertility after it’s removed. You can have an IUD removed at any time if you want to try to get pregnant.

Fact: Although IUDs may affect your menstrual periods, the changes aren’t generally harmful. Copper IUDs tend to cause heavier and longer periods, and hormonal IUDs often cause lighter and less frequent periods.

Fact: Overall, the risk of PID in IUD users is low. If you have chlamydia or gonorrhea, your risk of PID increases in the month following IUD insertion. It’s important to get screened and treated for these conditions.

Fact: If you become pregnant while having an IUD, it raises your risk of ectopic pregnancy. But overall, IUDs lower your risk of ectopic pregnancy by helping prevent pregnancy in the first place.

Fact: Some IUDs may be too wide for people who’ve never been pregnant, but smaller IUDs can provide a suitable alternative.

Fact: If you’ve ever had progestin-sensitive breast cancer, you should avoid hormonal IUDs. But hormone-free copper IUDs can provide a safe alternative.

Fact: IUDs help prevent pregnancy in monogamous and non-monogamous relationships. To prevent sexually transmitted infections, it’s important to also use condoms.

Fact: Your sexual partner may be able to feel your IUD strings during sex, but this rarely causes discomfort. Your doctor may adjust the length of the strings if needed.

Fact: An IUD won’t travel to other parts of your body. It can push through your uterine wall or fall out, but this is rare. Let your doctor know if you develop symptoms such as pain or can’t feel your IUD strings when you insert your fingers into your vagina.