In the world of birth control options, it’s hard to beat the IUD. Intrauterine devices, or “IUDs,” are small “T” shaped devices placed inside your uterus that can prevent you from becoming pregnant.
With an IUD, you don’t need to take a birth control pill everyday, and you don’t need to use a condom for preventing pregnancy. In fact, IUDs are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
IUDs are a great option for women who are not ready to have children anytime soon. They’re also great for women who are done having children. They can last anywhere from three to ten years, depending on the type you have.
However, IUDs can have some negative side effects on your vaginal health after they’ve been placed.
If you’re considering taking the guesswork out of your birth control, an IUD may be the perfect fit for you. It’s just important to know about placement and possible side effects afterwards.
First, let’s get some basic info on IUDs so you can decide which is right for you.
What Kind of IUDs Are Available?
IUDs are available in two different types, hormonal and copper. Each one is still inserted into your uterus and stays there until you’re ready to have it removed. The way each option works is different, and the side effects of each are different, so one may be a better option for you than the other.
Both types of IUDs are placed by a doctor in your gynecologist’s office. The pain from IUD placement is no joke. The pain can take your breath away, especially if you’ve never delivered a child. Typically, pain only lasts a few moments while the IUD is being placed, but you can still experience cramping after you leave the office.
Here are some of the key differences between the two different kinds of IUDs:
– Copper: A copper IUD is just what it sounds like; an IUD coated in copper. The copper on the IUD prevents sperm from fertilizing an egg. If a sperm does fertilize an egg, the copper IUD makes the lining of the uterus very thin, so implantation of the fertilized egg is virtually impossible.
– Hormonal: A hormonal IUD is a device that slowly releases the hormone progestin. The hormone progestin works similarly to a copper IUD, in that it makes the lining of the uterus very thin so that a fertilized egg cannot attach.
A hormonal IUD also causes cervical mucus to become thick and sticky, so that sperm aren’t able to pass through the cervix to fertilize an egg. A hormonal IUD may also prevent an egg from being released by the ovaries each month.
What Are the Benefits of Getting an IUD?
Maybe you’re a pill girl considering making the switch, but wondering what the attraction is with IUDs. Or maybe you’re considering changing to a different form of birth control because you’re experiencing harsh side effects from other methods.
Getting an IUD has some great benefits, but you’ll need to discuss with your doctor whether or not you’re a good candidate for one.
For instance, you may not be a candidate for an IUD if:
- – You suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease
- – You’re experiencing side effects from an active, untreated STI.
- – You have other uterine health issues that could be affected.
Also, it (almost) goes without saying, if you are currently pregnant, you will not be able to get an IUD. You also won’t want to get any type of birth control if you’re hoping to get pregnant.
Benefits of having an IUD can include:
– It’s easy. In terms of birth control, nothing much is easier than an IUD. You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day and you don’t have to pause in the middle of foreplay for your partner to put on a condom.
– It’s long lasting. Hormonal IUDs last for about three to five years, while a copper IUD can last up to a decade. This means you don’t have to worry about your birth control, or about possibly getting pregnant, for a long time.
– They’re affordable. Generally, your insurance will include an IUD as a preferred method of birth control. Check with your policy to see how much you would have to pay to have one placed.
– IUDs are incredibly effective. As previously mentioned, IUDs are 99% effective. That’s the same effectiveness rating as a vasectomy, but without the incision (or the balls for that matter)! Not bad considering if you’d like to eventually get pregnant, you can simply have it removed.
– IUDs may decrease period cramping. If you opt for the hormonal IUD, you may experience less cramping, bloating, and bleeding during your monthly cycle.
We know IUDs can almost sound too good to be true, so we’re going to level with you. There are some side effects associated with having an IUD placed, including types of vaginal infections that can be really uncomfortable.
If you know what to expect, you can be better prepared in case you experience any of these issues.
What Are the Side Effects After Getting an IUD?
The side effects from an IUD differ depending on whether you get a hormonal IUD or a copper IUD.
You will experience pain on insertion with both; neither seems to be less painful than the other. Additionally, there’s always a risk your IUD could come out in whole or just partially. If that happens, you are at risk of getting pregnant.
You may also experience spotting and irregular periods with either IUD. However, in most cases your body will regulate back to a normal cycle in about three to six months.
If you decide to use a hormonal IUD, side effects may include:
– Irregular periods and spotting. Some women stop having their period after a year of hormonal IUD placement. This is because the hormonal IUD may prevent ovulation from occurring in the first place, so when your body doesn’t get pregnant, there’s no thickened uterine lining or egg to shed.
– Cramping. Most IUD related cramping should stop within three to six months of having your IUD placed. If it doesn’t, talk to your doctor. There could be a chance your IUD isn’t placed properly.
– Infection. Any IUD, including hormonal IUDs include a risk of developing a vaginal infection. Especially when your IUD is placed, there’s a risk for bacteria to transfer to your vagina and cause an infection.
Planning to go with a copper IUD instead? Here are some possible side effects:
– Heavier, more painful periods. This time of “heavier and worser” periods usually only lasts between three to six months after having your IUD placed.
– Infection. Just like the other option, copper IUDs place you at risk of infection. The copper one in particular has been linked to changes in vaginal pH level. Changes in your vaginal pH can result in vaginal odors, discharge, and infection.
The side effects may look unpleasant, but an it’s still a great consideration for birth control for some women.
What Can I Do If I Get An Infection?
If your IUD placement has given you an infection the first thing you’ll want to do is contact your doctor. They can advise you on what’s safest based on how long it’s been since it was placed. Keep an eye out for symptoms of vaginal infections so you can deal with them quickly.
Vaginal infections can give you symptoms like:
- – Burning, itching, and irritation inside your vagina and on your vulva.
- – Pain and burning when you pee.
- – Pain during sex.
- – Discharge ranging from thin and watery, to white and chunky, and even yellowish green.
- – Foul odor (think fish-like, musty, or coppery).
You don’t have to just learn to live with recurrent vaginal infections. As long as your doctor has given you the all clear, you can treat infections like BV or a yeast infection from home. You have options like Boric Acid suppositories to help you out.
The great news about suppositories like VeeCleanse is that they’re easy to use and effective. They aren’t messy like creams or inconvenient like getting a prescription.
Should I Get An IUD?
The decision is ultimately yours to make. It’s important to talk with your doctor and your partner. As long as everyone is on the same page, it’s a great option for birth control.
Keep in mind what you’ve read here about infections and side effects. As long as you’re aware of everything involved, enjoy this birth control option and the ease of use that comes with it!
Sarah Nelson is a nurse with 15 years of experience working with a variety of patients. She has a Masters of Science in Nursing and has spent a large portion of her career working exclusively with women in an OB/GYN setting.
Nursing is a passion for Sarah but she also enjoys writing and sharing her expertise online with people who need helpful information. Treating patients well and helping them learn more about their own bodies is a key essential to a healthy lifestyle that Sarah truly believes in.