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Did you know that nearly 10 percent of people using birth control opt for Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)? These tiny T-shaped devices are nearly 99 percent effective and can last up to 3 to 7 years, depending on the device. IUDs are a safe and reliable way to prevent pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean they’re risk-free.
In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about IUDs, from how they work to their potential risks and the different types of IUDs.
What are hormonal IUDs and how it works?
Hormonal IUDs are a type of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) T-shaped devices. These IUDs release a small amount of a synthetic hormone called levonorgestrel (a type of progestin) directly into the uterus–they’re also referred to as progesterone-only IUDs.
The hormone works in two ways: by thickening the cervical mucus so sperm can’t reach the uterus and thinning the uterine lining, which prevents a fertilized egg from implanting there.
Note: While hormonal IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, they don't protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
What are the types of hormonal IUDs?
There are four hormonal IUD options approved by the FDA in the United States:
Mirena contains 52mg of levonorgestrel and releases the hormone directly into the uterus, and can prevent pregnancy for up to five years. Apart from preventing pregnancy, it’s often used to treat heavy menstrual bleeding.
Skyla is the smallest and the lowest hormone IUD 13.5mg of levonorgestrel, which can prevent pregnancy for up to three years.
Kyleena is slightly larger than Skyla and contains 19.5mg of levonorgestrel, which can prevent pregnancy for up to six years.
Liletta, like Mirena, is the largest IUD and contains 52mg of levonorgestrel, which can prevent pregnancy for up to five years.
What are some hormonal IUD benefits?
- Hormonal IUDs are more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy
- Since they result in minimal systemic exposure, they can lead to fewer hormonal side effects for some people
- Hormonal IUDs can last between 3 and 7 years, depending on the specific type
- Since the contraceptive effects are quickly reversible, you can easily change to a different method, like switching from a hormonal IUD to a copper (non-hormonal) IUD
Disadvantages of a hormonal IUD
While they are generally safe and highly effective, there are a few potential hormonal IUD side effects:
- Cramping – especially during or shortly after insertion
- Spotting or bleeding between periods
- Weight gain
- Mood swings or depression
- There is also a risk of expulsion when the IUD falls out of the uterus
Using IUD as emergency contraception can be a great option if you’re looking for an effective and long-lasting birth control method. Choosing the best hormonal IUD depends on your health, lifestyle, and future reproductive plans.
But, as with any medical decision, it’s important to do your research. Talk to your healthcare provider about the hormonal IUD mechanism of action, potential side effects, and whether it’s the right choice.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does hormonal IUD cause weight gain?
Weight gain is a commonly reported concern among people considering hormonal birth control methods, including hormonal IUDs. However, according to the National Centre of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), there’s no clear link between hormonal IUDs and significant weight gain.
Is the hormonal IUD better?
Whether a hormonal IUD is “better” depends on individual health needs, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Both hormonal and non-hormonal (copper) IUDs are very effective forms of birth control. While Hormonal IUDs like Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla, release a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel, the copper IUD (Paragard) is hormone-free and works by releasing copper into the uterus.
What does a hormonal IUD do to your body?
The hormonal IUD, when inserted into the uterus, gradually releases a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel into the body. This hormone primarily thickens the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg. It also thins the uterus lining, making it less likely for a fertilized egg to implant and develop. It’s important to note that hormonal IUDs don’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).