The IUD Spectrum
With the wealth of contraceptive options available on the market, it can be hard to choose what’s right for you. Should you go hormonal or skip the hormones? Do you want to take a pill or have something you can get and forget about? For some people, it’s easier to have a contraceptive option that they don’t have to worry about actively. IUDs have become an easy option for those who don’t want to remember a pill every day or replace a patch. They are an intrauterine device shaped like a T and are 99% effective in protecting against pregnancy.
Surprisingly, when we talk about IUDs, most people don’t know that there isn’t just one type. The varied spectrum of IUDs has developed to suit the needs of just about anyone. Just like with all birth control types, it isn’t a one size fits all situation. You should feel free to explore your options so you can get down and dirty without worrying about the aftermath. There are currently five different types of IUDs on the market that the FDA approves.
These IUD brands separate into two distinct categories: hormonal IUDs and non-hormonal copper IUDs. But what do each of these brands bring to the party, and which one is right for you?
Non-Hormonal Copper IUD (Paragard)
Paragard is a Copper IUD with longevity of up to twelve years, so you can essentially set it and forget it. The plastic of the IUD is wrapped in thin copper and does not contain hormones. The copper actually repels sperm.
So, the copper essentially prevents sperm from reaching the egg, making it incredibly effective as an emergency contraceptive option. If you get it placed within five days of contact, your chances of getting pregnant drop to less than 0.01%. It is currently the most effective emergency contraceptive and keeps up its effectiveness for up to twelve years of use.
While your menstrual cycle may change a little for the first six months of insertion, you’re unlikely to have other common birth control side effects like weight gain or headaches as it doesn’t impact your hormones. Your period may get a bit heavier at first, but this will subside after a half year of use. Due to the lack of hormones, you don’t have to worry about potential blood clots, issues while breastfeeding, and the copper IUD can be removed whenever you want.
Hormonal IUD (Kyleena, Liletta, Mirena, & Skyla)
Much like other hormonal birth control options, hormonal IUDs operate using progestin to prevent pregnancy. One major difference between hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs, hormonal IUDs don’t work like Paragard and do not function as emergency contraception.
Hormonal IUDs have over a 99% effectivity rate, but the different brands vary in longevity. Mirena and Liletta last up to seven years, whereas Kyleena lasts five, and Skyla, the smallest IUD, only gives you three.
Hormonal forms of birth control essentially alter the environment to make it impossible for sperm to thrive. The mucus in the cervix thickens to trap sperm, while your hormones change to prevent an egg from being released in the first place.
Overall, your period may lighten or stop when using one of these IUDs, which is one of the reasons many opt for this form of birth control. The downside of using any hormonal form of birth control is it does carry the risk of weight gain, headaches, and even blood clots, though those side effects are not guaranteed.
Which One Is Right For Me?
Talk to your doctor to see which form of IUD is best for your specific needs. If you’re looking for something that will prevent pregnancy and be long-lasting, you might want to opt for the Copper IUD. Though your doctor may advise against it if you have:
- Pelvic Disease
- Endometriosis or Adenomyosis
- Wilson’s Disease
The same goes for hormonal IUDs, and your doctor may advise against them if you have:
- Breast Cancer
- Liver Disease
- Pelvic Disease
- Cervical Cancer
Talk with your doctor about your medical history and ask about the risks for each option. Your doctor knows what elements of these IUDs may interfere with issues you already have and can help you find the right option for your body. Neither of these options is permanent, so you don’t have to worry if you’re looking to become pregnant down the line.