IUD (Intrauterine Device for Birth Control)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Will an IUD affect my periods?

The woman must check her IUD every month to be sure that it is still in place. The woman with an IUD in place will still have normal menstrual periods, although some women notice that flow is heavier. Other women, especially those with a hormone-releasing IUD, may have a lighter menstrual flow. Sometimes, the uterus expels (pushes out) the IUD. Expulsions may not cause any specific symptoms and can be overlooked. In addition to the woman checking the IUD, the device must also be checked periodically by a health-care professional.

Will my partner feel my IUD?

You and your partner should not be able to feel the IUD itself. However, you may feel the strings of the IUD at the upper end of the vagina.

What are the risks and complications of IUDs?

  • An IUD may not be appropriate for women who have heavy menstrual bleeding, had previous pelvic infections, have more than one sexual partner, or plan on getting pregnant. This is because IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STDs) and should not be in place if a woman intends to become pregnant.
  • If women become pregnant with their IUDs in place, 50% of the pregnancies end in miscarriage. Any woman with an IUD who develops signs or symptoms of pregnancy, or has a positive pregnancy test, should see a health-care professional soon.
  • Women who use non-progesterone types of IUDs are less likely to have an ectopic pregnancy compared to women using no contraception. When a woman using an IUD does become pregnant, the pregnancy is more likely to be ectopic. Nevertheless, ectopic pregnancy in a user of an IUD is a rare occurrence.
  • Serious complications due to infection (pelvic inflammatory disease) associated with an IUD may prevent a woman from being able to become pregnant in the future.
  • Also, with the progesterone-releasing IUDs (levonorgestrel IUDs), a reduction in menstrual flow and a decrease in painful menstrual cramping are often observed with continued use. This is because the progesterone hormone can cause thinning of the lining of the uterus. These menstrual changes are not dangerous in any way and do not mean that the contraceptive action of the IUD is diminished.

Does an IUD protect a woman from sexually transmitted infections (STDs)?

No, the IUD does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

REFERENCE:

Samra-Latif, O.M. et al. "Contraception." Medscape. May 02, 2014.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/25/2016
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