Thinking of Getting an IUD? A Doctor Explains Why You Should — and Why You Shouldn't
If you've been considering the IUD as an option for birth control or hormonal therapy, there are definitely some pros and cons to think about before you schedule your appointment. We're weighing the options with One Medical's women's health doctor (and IUD insertion specialist) Dr. Stephanie Long, MD. She shared all the reasons you should get an IUD, as well as a few things that may deter you. Because everyone's body is different, you'll absolutely want to consult your healthcare provider about your procedure and needs — but let these pros and cons help you come prepared with questions for your appointment!
- Low, LOW pregnancy risk. Less than 1 percent of sexually active women with an IUD get pregnant
- Longevity. "It lasts for many, many years," said Dr. Long.
- Low maintenance. "The IUD is a secure, portable method that doesn't require maintenance," she told POPSUGAR. No remembering to take a pill, no tracking, no thinking — the IUD just does it for you.
- Lighter — or no more — periods (on hormonal IUDs). With "progesterone-based IUDs, periods get lighter or they stop," she said. "For some women it's really convenient to not have a period or to have a lighter period."
- No side effects with copper. If you don't need the hormonal IUD, the ParaGard is a great option. "It's hormone-free, doesn't give you side effects, and doesn't interfere with medications," said Dr. Long. This is something to consider if you're already on prescriptions for preexisting medical issues.
- Can protect the uterine lining if you have PCOS. Speaking of preexisting medical issues, if you've got polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the hormonal IUD can "help create regular signaling," in your body, and "protect against uterine changes that could lead to cancer later."
- No permanent damage. Once you remove the IUD, your body returns to its "normal state," said Dr. Long.
- Requires an office visit. An office can be a barrier to getting this specific kind of medical help if a woman does not have access to healthcare, or cannot get to a doctor's office.
- Insertion varies. "It's hard to know in advance what someone's insertion experience will be like," Dr. Long told POPSUGAR. For some it's painless and stress-free, and for others it can be slightly more traumatic and painful.
- Cramping. At the time of insertion and up to a month later, a woman can experience mild to intense cramping. Check in with your doctor frequently if your cramping is severe or lasts a long time.
- Maybe you want a period! While skipping a period can be a major pro for some women, other women feel more comfortable with their monthly flow. It's definitely something to consider in advance.
- Worse periods (with nonhormonal). "With the ParaGard, periods can get heavier and crampier," said Dr. Long.
- Personal preference. Dr. Long explained that some women are not comfortable with having "something that lives inside them." It comes down to your own experience, feelings, and preference!
- Spotting. Irregular bleeding and spotting can take place for a few months after insertion, so get your black underwear ready.
- Side effects vary with hormones. As with adding anything hormonal into the mix, your side effects from a hormonal IUD will be unique and different based on your body. Keep a close eye on physical and mental changes, and stay on top of doctor visits and communication.