An IUD is an intrauterine device. It is placed into the uterus to prevent a pregnancy. It is a reversible form of birth control, extremely effective, and a long-term solution for women who may not wish to take a pill-based birth control product.
The IUD is a small and flexible piece of plastic which is shaped like the letter “T.” There are currently five different brands which are approved for use within the U.S. right now: Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, ParaGard, and Skyla. They are available in hormone-based applications or as a copper IUD.
Choosing the right birth control option is a personal decision that should be made with your doctor. If you’re thinking about this option, then here are the IUD pros and cons that you’ll want to think about.
List of the Pros of an IUD
1. Almost any woman can use an IUD as an effective form of birth control.
Virtually any woman, including teens, can use an IUD as a form of birth control. Women who have never had a pregnancy or experienced a delivery experience the same results as women who have. The only difference is that women who have not yet had a child may receive a recommendation for a smaller device. Many women find that the procedure isn’t painful, and some barely feel anything. It can be completed in as little as 5 minutes.
2. It can be used by women who are sensitive to hormones.
Some women may not be taking a birth control product because they are extremely sensitive to the hormones contained in the product. A copper-based IUD eliminates this concern. A copper-based IUD can be effective without the use of hormones because it makes conditions in hospitable for a pregnancy to set. It also eliminates the need to perform an activity before engaging in sexual intercourse, such as the placement of a diaphragm.
3. It offers a long-term form of birth control.
When using a hormone-based IUD, women receive up to 6 years of viable birth control that doesn’t require periodic shots or daily pills. If a copper-based IUD is chosen, women can receive up to 12 years of viable birth control with minimal maintenance.
4. Menstrual cycles can be lighter or less painful.
When taking hormone-based birth control, some women may experience an interruption of their menstrual cycle, changes in its speed of onset, or flow changes that can be bothersome. Hormone-based IUDs still cause these issues to a minor extent, though not to the severity that a pill or shots typically cause. Women taking a copper-based IUD may experience lighter periods, less cramping, and less overall discomfort.
For women who suffer from anemia, severe cramping, or very heavy periods, a hormone-based IUD is an effective treatment solution.
5. Some IUDs are rated to work as an emergency contraception device.
The ions which are released by copper-based IUDs create an inflammatory response which creates sterility. When this response occurs, any sperm become disabled by the copper ions. This prevents a pregnancy because it dramatically reduces the chances of fertilization. Women can use a copper-based IUD up to 5 days after having unprotected intercourse as a measure to guard against a pregnancy.
6. IUDs are a proven resource.
About 2 out of every 5 women who work in a medical profession choose IUDs as their primary form of birth control. That is because it is a proven option to protect against pregnancies with a number of benefits. If a copper-based IUD is being used, its removal allows a woman to become pregnant in as little as 1-3 months. Most couples can conceive within 4-6 months after having a copper-based or hormone-based IUD removed. Couples attempting to conceive after removal of an IUD are 85% successful after 12 months.
7. With insurance, the cost of an IUD is affordable for most women.
Many IUD placement procedures have some form of coverage which reduces the cost of the item and care received. When compared to the cost of birth control pills that are not subsidized by insurance, the average woman can save about $180 per year. Some birth control pill options can cost over $600 annually, which is around the cost of an IUD and insertion procedure.
8. You can’t really make a mistake when using an IUD.
The reason why IUDs are one of the most effective forms of birth control is because they are virtually impossible to mess up. It’s not a form of birth control that you can forget to use, like the ring or the pill. You’re not going to use it incorrectly, like a condom or a diaphragm. Once the doctor places the IUD where it is supposed to be, you really don’t need to think about it again until it needs to be replaced or taken out for some other reason.
9. IUDs are incredibly safe.
Old IUD models had some problems with them, just like older birth control pills used to cause more side effects. Although pelvic infections and inflammation are possible with a small number of women with current IUD versions, the risks are extremely low. The American Medical Association and the World Health Organization both rate IUDs as one of the safest forms of reversible birth control available right now.
10. Most partners won’t realize it is there.
Most men will not know that you have an IUD placed. The only way to have it detectable during intercourse is to have the IUD improperly placed. If your partner says they can feel the IUD, then you know it’s time to have a chat about the qualifications of your medical provider.
List of the Cons of an IUD
1. IUDs are known to cause some side effects during placement.
Many women respond well to the placement of an IUD. There may be some common side effects, however, that could be bothersome during the placement process. They include bleeding, cramping, sweating, dizziness, pale skin, and a faster heartbeat. If the symptoms are very bothersome or last for more than 30 minutes, then you should speak with your doctor right away about your IUD.
2. There can be long-term complications with IUDs as well.
Both copper-based and hormone-based IUDs are known to cause complications in a small percentage of women. The most common complications are frequent headaches, acne development, pain during menstruation, and a decreased libido. Some women may experience hair loss after their IUD is placed, while others may experience unwanted hair growth. Increased levels of anxiety, bloating, and tenderness in the breast may occur.
3. It may cause weight-gain issues for some women.
About 5% of women who receive an IUD will experience unwanted weight gain while their device is implanted. Many contraceptives use estrogen as one of the hormones, which can encourage weight gain. Even if estrogen is not part of the IUD package offered, the psychological effect of having a long-term birth control product simulates the effect of estrogen-based birth control items. With regular exercise and good eating habits, this negative can often be countered in time.For women concerned about gaining weight with a birth control option, the copper-based IUD is a better solution. Some women may have heavier periods, longer periods, or both after insertion. Every woman reacts a little differently to every type of birth control, which is why a professional consultation is necessary. It may require a few different options before you find the one that works best for you.
4. IUDs may still interact with certain medications.
If you are taking certain medications, such as Rifampin or Topiramate, or certain supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, then you may experience an interaction with your IUD. For this reason, you may be asked by your doctor to consider the benefits of a copper-based IUD instead of a hormone-based IUD. If you take any medication which interferes with hormone-based birth control, it raises the risk of a pregnancy occurring.
5. It is not a 100% successful form of birth control.
Within the first year of receiving an IUD, there is a 1% chance that a woman will become pregnant unintentionally with this form of birth control. When compared to some hormone shots or birth control pills, however, an IUD is up to 9 times more successful. Although the risks of pregnancy are much lower, they are still present. Becoming pregnant with an IUD in place creates unique health risks as well, which means the device must be taken out almost immediately.
6. An IUD may perforate the uterus.
It happens in fewer than 1% of all cases. An IUD can perforate the uterus while it is being inserted. This may trigger inflammation or unwanted side effects that may take several weeks to resolve. A perforation also requires a woman to seek out other forms of birth control until the procedure can be attempting once again.
7. The costs of an IUD are not always covered by health insurance.
Many health insurance policies fully cover the costs of a birth control series or shots. They do not always cover the costs of an IUD. If the procedure is not covered, the initial cost of the IUD device may be over $1,000. The cost to remove the device may be around $500, depending upon the provider. For some women, if it is a long-term solution for birth control, an IUD may be cheaper than birth control pills. For others, however, it may be priced at a level which is simply not affordable.
8. IUDs do not prevent STIs or STDS.
Like virtually any form of birth control, an IUD will not provide women with any protection against sexually-transmitted infections or diseases. All forms of prevention, including the use of a condom, is highly recommended while using the IUD as a form of birth control. For women who has an STD or an active bacterial infection, an alternative form of birth control is often recommended. For that reason, your doctor may request blood tests to ensure you do not have an STI or STD before implanting the device.
9. An IUD could slip out of place after placement.
Even with the overall reliability of an IUD, there is a possibility that it could move out of placement. Movement may occur even after the IUD is properly placed by a qualified medical provider. A complete, honest medical history given to your doctor involving any pregnancies, miscarriages, and other reproductive health concerns is the best way to avoid this potential issue.
10. Women must see a medical provider for placement.
Most women have access to local reproductive care. Not all women do, however, especially in rural areas. A qualified medical provider must perform the placement procedure. For those without this access, it may be a trip of 100+ miles to have the procedure performed. Even with the many benefits an IUD provides, lack of access creates difficulties for some women to choose this option.
The University of Minnesota School of Public Health reports that in 2014, 54% of rural counties in the U.S. did not have a hospital which provided obstetrics services.
These IUD pros and cons are a safe, effective birth control option for women who want a long-term solution. Although there are some risks involved, and some side effects to consider, most women prefer an IUD over other forms of birth control. An IUD is more convenient, competitively priced, an eliminates the need to remember a daily pill. With more birth control options available, it means more women have access to the reproductive control they deserve.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.