Some options need to be ingested daily – in pill form – at the same time of day. Others can be worn on or underneath the skin – in patch or implant form. Some are temporary, some provide long-term protection. Some protect against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and others only protect against pregnancy.
With so many options, it may feel overwhelming when it comes time to decide what’s best for you. But, if you’re looking for a safe, convenient, and long-term protection against pregnancy, an intrauterine device (or IUD) just might be the right choice for you.
- Hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Kyleena, Skyla and Liletta) release a daily amount of progestin into your uterus. The probability of getting pregnant using this method ranges between 0.1 and 0.2 percent.
- A non-hormonal/copper IUD prevents pregnancy by creating an inflammatory response in the uterus making it impossible for sperm or ova to survive. The probability of pregnancy using this method ranges between 0.5 and 0.8 percent.
As with any method of birth control, IUDs come with their own set of pros and cons. And there are different risks and benefits for both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs.
- Can lighten, shorten, and lead to less painful periods.
- May reduce the risk of endometrial cancer.
- Can last for three to five years without having to be removed or replaced.
- Blood clots are a possible risk/side effect.
- Can cause headache, acne, breast tenderness and irregular bleeding.
- May not be an option if you are at risk for breast, uterine, or cervical cancer.
- Can last up to 10 years without having to be removed or replaced.
- Can be used as emergency contraception if inserted no longer than five days after unprotected sex.
- May increase menstrual flow and menstrual cramps.
- Possible bleeding between periods.
- Is not an option for women with certain health issues.
No matter the type of IUD you choose, this birth control method carries many benefits, including:
- An IUD is extremely effective at preventing pregnancy. IUDs are 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Depending on the type of IUD, only 0.1 to 0.8 percent of women become pregnant while using this birth control method.
- It’s reversible. You will immediately return to fertility as soon as you have your IUD removed, no matter how long it has been inserted in your uterus.
- No maintenance required. An IUD is a long-term, low-maintenance option for women who don’t want to have to remember to take a pill every day. Depending on the type of IUD, once inserted, it can remain in place for three to 10 years.
Like any birth control method, there are risks associated with IUDs.
- IUDs do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- IUD insertion can be uncomfortable.
- Both types – hormonal or non-hormonal/copper – can cause irregular bleeding and cramping for the first few months after insertion.
In rare cases, patients with IUDs have experienced a perforation of the uterine wall.
An IUD can be a great option for you at any time of your life. They are a convenient, long-term, and reversible form of birth control. Just as with any birth control method, it’s important to consider your personal circumstances before you decide.
Consider the following factors when deciding if the time is right for an IUD:
- What is your timeframe for wanting to get pregnant?
- Are you done having children?
- Do you prefer non-hormonal birth control methods?
- Do you need protection against sexually transmitted diseases or just pregnancy?
As always, talk to your partner and consult with your doctor about your options.
Although IUDs are a safe and effective form of birth control, there are still many myths and misconceptions. Here are answers to some common myths about IUDs:
Myth #1: IUDs prevent pregnancy by causing abortions.
Fact: IUDs don’t work by causing abortions. In most cases, they simply prevent fertilization from ever occurring in the first place. The copper in non-hormonal/copper IUDs works as a spermicide by killing/damaging sperm before it can fertilize the egg. IUDs containing the hormone progestin thicken the cervical mucus, and this prevents the sperm from entering the uterus.
Myth #2: IUDs are not highly effective
Fact: IUDs are more than 99% effective. The probability of getting pregnant while using an IUD ranges from 0.1 to 0.8 percent, depending upon the type of IUD (hormonal vs. non-hormonal/copper).
Myth #3: IUDs aren’t safe.
Fact: IUDs are safe! IUDs don’t cause birth defects, don’t cause cancer, and don’t lower your ability to become pregnant after removal. As with any birth control method or medical device, there are potential risks and side effects. However, the more serious side effects are rare.
If you’re interested in an IUD as your birth control method, talk with your healthcare provider. Intermountain Healthcare provides comprehensive, personalized care for women at every stage of life. To ensure you’re in competent and capable hands, click here to find a provider or clinic near you.