Every IUD Question I Wish I Asked My Gyno
11.14.17

You’re either the type of person who loves to research before you make life decisions or you’re not. My dad, for example, spent an entire year researching digital cameras before finally making a purchase. I’m quite the opposite. I accepted my college’s offer without visiting. I put in a rental application for my new apartment within moments of walking in the door. And I signed up for an IUD insertion without knowing much about it.

To my credit, I was fueled by the fury of the 2016 election. It was the push I needed after enough women in my life told me they loved their IUDs and wish they hadn’t waited. I even had a proper consultation with my trusted nurse practitioner…

But I didn’t pay attention. I zoned out the entire time and wondered a whole slew of unrelated things instead. Still, a date was set, I arrived on time and went through an awful insertion process (that part I was prepared for: the pain varies depending on your personal tolerance; I am on the Dramatic Low end of the spectrum). I was so foggy from the contraction-like cramps that followed, I didn’t pay attention to anything the doctor said — a fun and helpful pattern! I left with a pamphlet in hand that I shoved in a drawer and promptly lost.

A month later with a million questions worth of anxiety that WebMD made worse, I realized there was this little plastic device inside me that I didn’t know much about. Then I did my research.

There’s a lot of information out there. It’s overwhelming. On top of that, the “well-my-friend-said” compilations and hyperbolized anecdotes can further complicate matters and cause confusion. Knowing that, on the anniversary of getting my IUD (just in case anyone reading this may be considering getting one, or may not have a full grasp of what’s going on up/down there, either) I spoke to Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and asked her all of the questions I should have asked my gyno a year ago.

Pretend I didn’t have an IUD: Why should I get one?

We are living in the golden age of birth control because there are so many options, and birth control is not one size fits all. That said, the IUD is one of best forms of birth control available. IUDs are recommended by many in the medical community as first in line contraceptives for women of all ages, from adolescents to women about to start menopause, or women who have had menopause and are seeking them for non-contraceptive benefits.

+They are more than 99% effective.
+They’re extremely safe.
+There are few side effects.
+IUDs provide non contraceptive benefits: Hormonal IUDs can make your period lighter (some people stop getting their period altogether*), they cut down on cramps, and they can help treat those who suffer from anemia. +Both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDS also reduce the rate of endometrial cancer and ectopic pregnancy and hormonal IUDs also reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
+People with uteruses who identify as men can use the hormonal IUD to not get a period and for contraception if they are at risk of unwanted pregnancy.
+They’re convenient in that they’re easy to forget: once an IUD is in your body, you’re good to go.
+They don’t affect future fertility. You can become pregnant the day your IUD is taken out.
+Depending on the type, IUDs have either no or low hormones.
+IUDs are a completely confidential form of birth control. No one needs to know what you’re using when you opt for this method.
+If you don’t like your IUD, it’s easy to take out so that you can try something new.

*If you are on a method of contraception that reduces your period, this is not unhealthy. Your period will come back when you stop this method.

What would be a reason not to get an IUD?

Very few people cannot use IUDs.

Someone with an anatomic distortion of the uterus may make IUD placement impossible, but that person would be in the minority.

If you have active Chlamydia or gonorrhea you can’t get an IUD until treated.

Women who are pregnant or who may be pregnant should wait until the pregnancy has been resolved before they seek IUD insertion.

Hormonal IUDs are not a good option for someone who’s had breast cancer in the past five years, but after five years of being breast cancer-free, she’d be able to use this method.

Finally, copper IUDs are not recommended for women who have really heavy or painful periods, or who have a copper allergy, but they’re encouraged to seek out other forms of IUDs.

How are you supposed to know which kind of IUD to choose, or which kind of IUD to ask about?

I encourage people to gather as much information as they can: do their research and talk to healthcare providers in order to find out which method is right for them.

There are great ways to get information online before a face-to-face consultation with your health care provider, such as a trusted website with unbiased, evidence-based info. Planned Parenthood’s website, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Bedsider.org are all great resources.

There are also online platforms that let you interact with healthcare providers remotely to seek out more information about your options. The Planned Parenthood Care™ app (available in Minnesota, Washington, Hawaii, Alaska and Idaho) allows people to talk to a Planned Parenthood provider online and face-to-face through a secure video consultation system.

What about questions to ask yourself before you begin seeking consultation?

When talking to your health care provider about which method is right for you, I recommend choosing an IUD based on how it will impact your period as opposed to the length of time you’ll be able to use it effectively. You can always put a new one in when your old one “expires” if you’d like to continue this method.

A great place to start is to ask yourself what your periods are like. Are they extremely painful? Heavy? How do you feel about your period? How would you feel about having a period so light it could go away? How do you feel about light to heavy spotting?

Hormonal IUDs cause light bleeding and spotting for most women in initial months. This goes away with time, but for those who can’t handle unpredictable light spotting, this might not be for them. You can always try and switch.

Copper IUDs can make periods heavier and more crampy in initial months of use. For most people, periods return to normal, but this may not be a great option if you already experience painful cramps. It could make them worse.

I get that the hormonal IUD has less hormones than the Pill, but it still has hormones in it. So does it feel any different than the pill?

The hormones in birth control are synthetic versions of the same ones your body makes: estrogen and progestin. Hormonal IUDs contain only progestin – they have no estrogen. There are very very few women for whom progestin is dangerous. And most women don’t have bothersome side effects from the hormone in hormonal IUDs. If you’re having bothersome side effects related to the hormone in the IUD, and don’t want to use it any more, you can have it removed and try a different form of birth control. This goes back to “there’s no no one size fits all” kind of birth control.

The amount of hormones circulating in the body while using IUD are overall less than the pill, patch, ring, implant and depo shot. There are fewer hormonal side effects with IUDs than with these methods, too. And the copper IUD has no hormones at all.

My IUD insertion really hurt. Is it a guarantee it will hurt everyone? What can a patient do to reduce how much it hurts?

For most people there is some discomfort having it placed. Some people feel discomfort for a few seconds during placement, others experience cramping for three to five days after. Pain varies from individual and with the IUD placement itself. Talk to your provider about concerns with pain and the ways you might be able to reduce it.

Once the IUD is inserted, you’re supposed to “check for the strings” attached to the IUD that stick out of your cervix, right? What do you do if they’re not there?

Some providers recommend that all of their patients check for strings once a month; others do not. There’s no harm in checking for strings so long as you’re not grabbing or tugging at them. The benefit of doing this: being reassured your IUD is in place. But if you don’t want to check or can’t find the strings, that doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where it should be. That doesn’t mean it’s fallen out; it could mean the strings are twisted in your cervix or difficult to feel. To be sure, if you can’t feel your strings, and you’re checking for the first time or you could feel them previously, contact your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider can prescribe an ultrasound. If the ultrasound shows the IUD is in place, there is no reason for further worry. Less than 5% of women will have an IUD that falls out of the uterus. Because it’s such an unusual occurrence, some providers will not stress the importance of checking the strings.

Okay. And just to confirm: there’s no way I can get pregnant with an up-to-date IUD that’s confirmed in its proper place by my health care provider? [Ed note: I asked Dr. Gillian Dean this question at least three times and my own nurse practitioner at least 1,000 times, and received the same answer, which is…]

Fewer than 1 out of 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant each year.

For more information, check out the IUD page on Planned Parenthood’s website. They also have a quiz to find out which birth control is right for you.

To learn about how your birth control coverage may be affected (and what you can do), read this.

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; Creative Direction by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Abbie

    I LOVE my IUD. I had it inserted at my 6 week postpartum appointment after my second child was born and didn’t feel a thing. I had hyped myself up expecting a lot of pain but there was basically nothing beyond a short cramp. My OBGYN said for most second time moms, she can “throw it in from across the room” at the postpartum appointment because the cervix is still flexible and open from birth. I would highly recommend getting it inserted at that appointment if your OBGYN will do it.

    • That’s really good advice!

    • Jen

      “Throw it in from across the room” omg 😂

      • Amelia Diamond

        i read that out loud to the office we died

    • Love what your OBGYN said. Also, for others looking at postpartum IUDs, there is currently a lot of research around inserting an IUD into your uterus during a c-section. So no separate procedure! I work in an academic medical center, so they might be more “cutting edge” on this- but ask your provider about it if you’re interested!

    • Engels_Beard

      I love my IUD now but this was not my experience postpartum. The pain made me so sick I couldn’t drive myself home. After bleeding for about five weeks after giving birth, I had my IUD inserted at my six week postpartum appointment and then bled for the following two months before finally settling back into a regular hormonal cycle and it reduced my milk supply to the point that I had to begin to supplement with formula almost immediately and then gave up entirely another two months later. That said, I’m now on my fourth year and will definitely have it replaced. I just wished I waited six months or so before having it done.

  • starryhye

    Great stuff here, Amelia! I’m a huge fan of my IUD. I got my first one after I had my second kid in 2012. I like it so much that even after my husband got snipped, I kept it! I have raging, 10 day long periods but with the IUD, I get nothing. Total game changer. My doctor said that I could basically continue to get a new IUD until I start menopause, which I may very well do!

  • Bmo

    Yes I love my IUD! I also had a very painful insertion (definitely the worst pain I’ve ever experienced, and I don’t have a low pain tolerance) but I consider it worth it. My periods have completely stopped and I’ve only had very occasional cramps, plus an annoying bout of bacne.
    Also one thing I recently learned – even if your period “goes away” you still have an ovulation cycle every month, so I can blame my crying during movie trailers on that.

    • alex

      I had a really similar experience and feelings as you. The insertion was the WORST pain I’ve ever felt. On the bright side, besides the things you mentioned, I now think other things are less painful, like tattooing my sternum. That had nothing on my IUD insertion.

      • Bmo

        omg I also have a tattoo on my sternum, and yes the pain didn’t even compare!!

    • 808kate

      I love my IUD too. I actually got it more for heavy and painful periods that had been getting worse every year. Insertion wasn’t too bad for me (monthly cramps were much much worse), but I did have pretty bad intermittent cramping for a couple weeks after. But now I haven’t had a period in about 4 months, and my anemia is getting better, and no cramping at all. I know there have been many different experiences with the IUD but mine has been really great and it improved my life a lot.

    • SL

      Couch at the moment it is inserted!!! Ask the doctor to give you a heads-up. Helps so much

  • Mareike Borkowski

    Oh, thank you so much for this article Amelia! Been thinking about getting an IUD for a couple of months now. I suffer from high blood pressure so had to come off the pill. This was really helpful!

  • Been really thinking about making the switch to an IUD- think I might make an appointment soon.. Thanks for the information!

  • Martha Pietruszewski

    I’ve had 2 IUDs and didn’t like them BUT that should not discourage you from thinking about getting one! I mainly came here to second the Planned Parenthood care app, it’s awesome if you’re in a pinch. Or, if you’re like me, usually prefer Planned Parenthood providers to regular OBGYNs because they are just genuinely very nice.

  • I’ve been considering getting an IUD since I got serious with my boyfriend. I haven’t taken any hormonal birth control in 3 years (it completely messed with my skin & mental health) and am not planning to either. There’s just one thing that worries me: I often get UTI’s (can be once a month) or at least the feeling that I’m getting one (I take precaution, pee after sex, drink a ton of water etc) . I heard that IUD’s increase the risk of possible infections. Do you thing it would worsen my UTI’s?

    • Rachel H

      Similar to the poster above, I had problems with chronic UTIs about a year after my first IUD. I read a paper that indicated that the same bacteria often associated with UTIs CAN form biofilms on plastic (e.g. IUD strings). I had mine replaced last spring and haven’t had a UTI since. Without direct evidence I do feel that there is a link, but for me the benefits outweigh UTI risk (for now).

      • Hi Rachel! Thanks for your comment. Could I ask what kind of IUD you had at the time when you had problems with chronic UTIs and what kind you switched to? Thanks : )

        • Rachel H

          I had a Mirena the first time, and replaced with a new Mirena. I previously had extremely painful cramps and irregular but sometimes heavy periods, and the Mirena has alleviated all of those symptoms and been a good choice for me in that regard. Here is the paper that describes IUD-linked UTIs. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291936/

          I wish I had asked to have my first IUD cultured when it was removed–but the lack of UTIs since removal suggests that there might be a relationship. There is also published evidence from an experiment that strongly suggests UTI risk with an IUD.

          Good luck!

    • Abbie

      This is really interesting–I never thought there could be a link since the strings are SO far away from your urethra, but it looks like it is a possibility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24154554 On a personal note, I had multiple UTIs a year before having babies, but since I got the IUD I’ve had none.

  • jackie

    I LOVE my IUD. I think it’s great to not have to worry about anything related to birth control. That being said, I have to say my period is just as painful as before I got the IUD. I didn’t even have the copper one! My cramps are just as bad during the period and I often have painful cramps mid cycle as well. I still get bloated the week before. That being said, I still love it. I just don’t think people should expect it to cure all their period problems!

  • Jessie

    I’m on my second Mirena IUD. I think they’re amazing, and they honestly changed my entire vibe about sex in general — removing the possibility of me screwing up my birth control has been so liberating. Insertion was really no big deal, either time. It’s uncomfortable, sure, but it’s over quickly. Plus, my savage week-long tidal periods have disappeared almost completely. The only negative side effect for me has been mood swings: Every few months, I’ll get a major case of the blues for a few days that I can’t shake, and no amount of exercise, fun outfits or ice-cream-and-Netflix will fix it. But I’ll take that forever over the alternative of pills, insane periods, stress and potential surprise babies.

    • Jen

      Omg could it be the IUD blues is what I’m experiencing right now????

      • Jessie

        Yesssssss so serious, it’s real. You’re not imagining it OR going nuts! I know everyone is different and has completely individual experiences with these things, but that’s been my one and only drawback. I hope it lifts for you soon!

  • Rebecca

    the pain during insertion for me was horrible, and I don’t have a low pain tolerance. after the fact i read that if you are prone to bad menstrual cramps then insertion will be more painful, not sure if that is true or not but it was def true for me! Four months later, I rarely get cramps, don’t get my period, and its great!!

    • Jen

      My doctor told me the same about painful cramps being linked to more painful insertion, except I have very mild cramps during my period so he was all “oh this will be a breeze!” LOL NO. It was awful. The pain thing seems hard to predict

      • Rebecca

        it really does! i have friends who have gotten an IUD with no pain during insertion. My pain was so intense all I could was laugh v hard, which was a weird mental response haha also after i got mine, the dr said “ok so for the next 6 months, anything goes!”. . . .like ok why did she say that after insertion?!

  • I love my Mirena IUD, with one caveat! I actually started with the copper IUD for a year, but my periods were so heavy and horrible and never got better, so I switched to the Mirena, which I’ve had for two years. Although my doctor refused to believe it was true, I started suffering from chronic UTIs around the same time I got an IUD. I totally think there’s a link there because there’s a foreign object in my body and it’s natural that bacteria would want to collect there?? That’s just my theory. But now I take D-Mannose every day and have been UTI-free for a year and a half! It was so bad previously that I was seriously considering going back on hormonal birth control pills if it meant no more UTIs, so I’m glad the D-Mannose has been working.

    • Madeline C

      AGREE! YES! ME TOO!!!!! I was lucky because my doctor said something of the lines to, “Well it’s not a proven side effect…yet”. She basically told me that what we know about side effects, especially in women’s health is constantly evolving. She left the room and went and spoke with a few other doctors at the clinic. When she came back she told me that no one has ever heard of any study proving it but most of them had anecdotal evidence about specific patients that had struggled as well.

      • I’m glad she wasn’t dismissive of it! Yeah, after going to the doctor multiple times, I finally found a random thread on a forum that offered that theory AND to try d-mannose!

    • Julia

      What is d-mannose? I faced two UTIs (one was horrendous and very serious) a few months after my IUD insertion, and now I’m just obsessive about avoiding bacteria exposure and haven’t had one since. I’m very interested in anything else that can help prevent them!

      • D-mannose is a sugar supplement that is a higher concentrate than what comes in cranberry juice or pills. So as far as I know it’s a pretty natural way to go about it. I know you can take it to help clear up UTIs, but I take them every day as a preventative measure. I used to take 2 a day and now only take 1. I buy mine on amazon, the Solaray brand d-mannose with cranactin in the pill form! I’ve heard the powder form tastes horrible!

    • Isabel

      Unlikely to be related because the IUD is not near your urinary tract, if the bacteria collected around your IUD you would have a very serious infection called pelvic inflammatory disease. Probably just an unfortunate coincidence! Glad they have settled down!

  • Madeline C

    I have experienced some real peaks and valleys with my IUD. Especially from year 1-2. I like it right now, and I am glad I did it, but I think most doctors tell you their are almost no side effects and I’m not sure if that is true. My hormonal acne went WILD on the IUD. I felt like I was in high school again and it was very terrible. If the pill helped with your acne, the Mirena will not.

    Also, Question for the masses – Has anyone else had trouble with yeast infections or UTIs since getting the IUD?

    Overall, I actually really like the IUD but sometimes I feel like the side effects are down played. Happy birth controlling everyone!

    • Jen

      I feel like I may be a little more susceptible (BV more so than yeast infections) but there are a billion more factors that could be involved in my case

    • additionalmayonnaise

      YES. My hormonal acne went wild for the first six months with the IUD (although my doctor said this was mostly because I switched from the pill, which was keeping my acne in check previously). About a year after getting the IUD, I got BV for the first time ever. I had never even had a yeast infection before. I took the antibiotics for BV, but it came back. I tried a second round of antibiotics and boric acid tablets but the BV STILL came back, so I got the IUD removed. The day I had it removed all BV symptoms went away and never came back. I’m now back on the pill and experiencing zero side effects — the IUD just wasn’t for me. FWIW I had mirena. I’m sharing this story because I did extensive research before getting the IUD and found nothing about the symptoms I experienced.

    • Tori Johnson

      OK YES to all of this! My acne has flared back up like a wild fire and I have gotten SO many yeast infections since getting my IUD. I thought maybe it was just me or I am just more susceptible to yeast infections and BV? I also feel like my hormones are more out of wack since getting IUD as well – I cry/get angry over anything these days. I hadn’t been on the pill for about a year before getting my IUD so I assume my body is just adjusting to the small amount of hormones in the Mirena? Who knows? My my doctor definitely didn’t elaborate on any of these side effects

    • Christina

      People treat IUDs as the birth control equivalent of a silver bullet and it seems really dishonest. Even with healthcare providers, it seems as though personal bias always interferes with advice I get regarding my options.

    • Leah

      YES so many yeast infections! literally once or twice a month and they never stopped while I had the IUD even though I was taking so many probiotics

  • CeeEm

    Threadjacking for a second: Does anyone have the arm implant and if so, how do you like it, how was insertion, etc.?

    • Kaitlin M

      I had two of them with very mixed results. My first was AMAZING! My period went away almost completely and I felt great. The second one was not great, my period came back and was wildly irregular. We’re talking two weeks on two weeks off for like a year. I still don’t have a clear answer as to why it was so different, but my impression is that my body just started reacting differently to progesterone
      Insertion is easy, it’s basically an injection with a larger needle, you’ll be fine. Removal is pretty easy too.

      • CeeEm

        thank you! the insertion freaks me out so that part is good to hear.

    • 26543

      I have Nexplanon, had it inserted for the first time a year and a half ago. I can’t even describe how much I love it. I have next to no periods, which is a blessing for me since my periods before Nexplanon were so irregular – not heavy or painful – just ruined a LOT of bedsheets and nice underwear. Insertion was a breeze – like a slightly more invasive injection, light bruising/tenderness for 2 days. A world of difference from when I was on the combined pill – which made my periods even more irregular, mood swings, bloating, etc.

  • Amanda Faerber

    I also love my IUD. I got the copper/non-hormonal one almost four years ago. The pill is evil for me – separate from the random weight gain while taking it, I have major depression when I stop taking it. So, copper was the right choice for me. Insertion was, as others have said, completely awful. But my LNP is amazing and the tech who was there held my hand the entire time. My periods have changed slightly – not for the worse, just changed – and I have had no other side effects from it. I attribute this to the lack of hormones …

  • Raquel SG

    I just wonder about the methods if men got pregnant. IUD and hormones free. That´s my choice.

  • Jen

    I’ve had my mirena IUD about a year and a half. The insertion was rough, the pain was INTENSE but manageable, until I passed out, but I’m prone to fainting, so. I’m kinda nervous about the drama of another insertion once this puppy expires, but not having to think about birth control for 5 years, plus no noticeable side effects (except almost no period) makes me think i’ll go for it. If I had to get a new one every 3 years I may reconsider, but 5 is long enough that I can amp myself up for it.

  • Liv

    Well, personally I cannot recommend this solution to anyone (at least if you havent given birth yet), as I’ve had the worst experience ever.
    Firstly, my IUD insertion was not a feeling of “slight discomfort” – it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt (and I have even fractured my spine once!). I fainted and was in intense pain for days after. I wasnt prepared for how bad this would be AT ALL. Got very sparse information from my doctor, and even though I read on the internet, it couldnt be so bad, could it?
    And so I proceeded to have insane menstrual cramps for the 3 years I had the IUD, which was the only reason I got it in the first place – to lessen these monthly pains. Sometimes I would almost black out having a cramp, really dangerous when driving etc.
    I finally had it removed a week ago then, I wanted to earlier, but out of pure anxiety I just couldnt pull myself together to get it done. I even got pregnant with the IUD; apparently the doctors see that a lot in the hospital (so, 99% safe – go home)
    Almost everyone at my age (Im 25) who I’ve talked to had a similar experience with their IUD, so I cannot state enough: please consider this very carefully!

  • shilpi

    Wow, this reads like an advertisement for IUDs! Maybe you can come back with a more balanced opinion from someone else (a scientist rather than a doctor perhaps?)

    There is another group that should think twice before inserting an IUD — those with fibroids have a high chance of just expelling it. Studies put it as high as 20% likelihood. One of my OBs was familiar with that study and cautioned against it, but another OB in the same practice was ready to insert it without any warning to me. I have found that many OBs push them unequivocally, but, as other commenters have noted, OBs do not keep track of side effects, scientists do. (and it can be hard to women to really connect a side effect — mood swings, acne, period strangeness — to the IUD). I know they are popular and the vast majority of my friends have one, but I am skeptical — i don’t have one friend who escaped with zero side effects. There are other options!

    • Amelia Diamond

      we’ll be doing other versions of “ask a gyno about [insert bc method]” in the near future, not just iud. there’s so much info on each kind that it’s helpful to break it up method by method, and since this is the most recc’d / prescribed, it was the place to start. speaking with a scientist is a great idea!

      • MO

        natural cycles app would be super interesting to cover 🙂

        • shilpi

          I second this! I started using it a few months ago and it is already a revelation to have a zero side effect contraceptive option (we don’t mind using condoms for 1.5ish weeks per month, and i don’t mind taking my temp every morning. But i can see how those things would be annoying to some people. To me it is worth it.)

    • Kristin

      I mean there are side effects to every medicine. They are less with iud’s. There is no birth control without side effects—even things like condoms, fertility monitoring…”rhythm method”…there the effect is not having sex when you want to/having to buy/use condoms/higher risk of pregnancy.
      Also to fully disclose, i am a doctor and moderately insulted by the idea that a “scientist” would know more about the side effects of an iud. True, medicine doesn’t have all the answers; but your doctor ideally reads the science articles (which tell you the risks, effectiveness and side effects on a population) and additionally have the benefit of the experience of having the one patient who thinks the mirena made them depressed and gain 30lb (not saying it didn’t but those are not the side effects reported in the scientific literature).

      • Aimee

        “The one patient who thinks the mirena made them depressed and gain 30lb” It actually sounds like you ARE saying it didn’t. My experience with all progestin-containing birth control was the same– it exacerbated my depression. There is evidence that progestins do this– I fortunately had a doctor who understood this and listened to me.

        • Kristin

          I think you misunderstood; that person was my patient and I took out her iud. All i am saying is overall my patients have been happy with iuds. And definitely more happy than with unwanted pregnancy. But everybody’s different. That doesn’t mean that these are not great devices. Not perfect.

          • Aimee

            That would have been helpful context, but I don’t think I misunderstood. It can feel very diminishing to hear that your concerns are “not reported in the scientific literature.”

          • Kristin

            I was being sincere. And that is my point—while I totally believe in science,

          • Aimee

            Thank you for following up, I do recognize your sincerity now. Depression is so variable in its symptoms from person to person and can be hard to recognize, it’s not a wonder that there are limitations in the literature connecting depression and HC. As a patient it’s hard to find advice that is not either “well that doesn’t show up in the literature” or “OMG HORMONES ARE BAD/BIRTH CONTROL IS THE DEVIL” IUDs are amazing contraception as are other HCs, and as you said an unwanted pregnancy is also a major bummer– but it would be really awesome to not have to choose between effective contraception and your mental health.

      • Madeline C

        Honest question, how do you feel about this recent study? I know that this would be a small percentage of women but it does seem to suggest using a large range of data that there is a connection between depression and hormonal contraception (specifically the IUD). I know their are limitations to what conclusions we can draw because we cannot know what is causation vs correlation. But this was just such a large amount of data it seems like it has significance. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-hormonal-birth-control-trigger-depression-2016101710514 Just wondering what a doctors thoughts would be, thanks for any insight!

        • Kristin

          I think it is difficult to say. It isn’t randomized. But it is definitely true for some people. As a doctor I think the benefits of being able to plan your family far outweigh the risks (and there are multiple options so if you do find a mirena makes you depressed maybe the copper wouldn’t). Almost would liken it to what Melinda Gates said about vaccines —

    • old_inside

      I know a number of women, myself included, who have had bad ruptured ovarian cysts (larger than those that are common and unnoticeable) caused by the Mierna IUD. I personally went to the ER on two counts for ruptured cysts.

      I have had two Mirenas, and to be honest the first seemed fine, 5 years with no issues. It was the second one that caused those cysts as well as extreme pain during sex. Suddenly, with the same partner I had for years, the IUD would randomly get “bumped” a bit and send my entire body into shock – vomit, diarrhea, POURING sweat. This would last a half hour and then I would slowly recover.

      My doctor said the IUD was placed correctly and she didn’t know what my problem was, basically. Another doctor said the same thing. I eventually went to a third doctor and had it removed. So fucking happy to be free of it. Never had a cyst or any pain since.

      Just sharing because I agree with the above comment and would encourage anyone who is struggling with the IUD to just take the damn thing out!! It feels hard to do when everyone acts like they are a flawless birth control solution. Like Shilpi said, there are other options 🙂

      • MO

        same thing happened to me with the cysts! i had to take it out after 4 months of cysts.

        • Can you help with th(cyst)

          How do you know you’re having a cyst issue? Like does it feel different than other cramps? Without my IUD I had sweating, crying, lying on the floor in a ball cramps for years so I’m just curious when the pain might be cyst pain. Thanks!

          • MO

            during a rupture, it feels like a sharp pain in your ovary! similar side effects in the sweating, crying, lying on the floor department. i also got crampy legs and hips.

            i went to the ER the first time because i thought it was appendicitis.

            what helped: warm tea, hot shower or bath, hot pad, ibuprofen. I’m also on a shit ton of herbal supplements and adaptogens to balance my hormones!

            and since i got the IUD out .. 0 cysts !!

          • jackie

            wait cramp legs???? i got the IUD and January and now I will randomly have INTENSE leg pain and I can never figure out what it is. it could be cysts???? this is a life changing revelation Mo!!!!

          • MO

            Could be! I’d ask your gyno for an ultrasound to know for sure. Good luck girlfriend!!

      • Alice C.A.

        Same thing with me and another friend with the Mirena! I had cysts twice – had to get a laproscopic surgery to remove them the first time then after I ended up in the ER a couple of months later when another burst, I had them take out the IUD. Only had it in for five months and it wreaked havoc on my body and my sex life. Doc swore there were no studies showing this type of side effect, and Mirena hasn’t admitted their IUDs can cause this.

    • Jade-Yue-Ryu

      I actually have a pretty severe horror story involving an IUD, 4.5 years of pain, and a gyno who kept insisting my decreasing health couldn’t possibly be from the IUD. I and my uterus call malarky. I have a Nexplanon implant now and it couldn’t be a more different experience.

    • Jac Young

      CAUTION: The hormone IUD rapidly caused me to grow fibroids around my ovaries. Didn’t have them before the insertion at ultrasound time. Less than one year later I had three. There’s not enough research for doctors to confirm it was the IUD’s fault. BUT was it just a coincidence? I THINK NOT. I had the doctor take my IUD out pronto. I don’t need to a doctor to hide from me what is so awfully obvious.

      Side notes (but not as important as the effect above):
      1: The insertion of the IUD was the most excruciating few seconds of pain. The pointed ends puncturing through a wall …. ouch.
      2: The IUD changed my period blood in a gross way. After insertion my blood turned to a dark brown thin layer of gunk. It took about three years after having it removed to get back to my healthy red blood.

      Those fibroids remain slowly growing in size.

      Lots of people never have a problem, but thought I’d share anyway.

  • Azlin Armstrong

    I really do love all the wonderful things my IUD does for me, but my experience with my little copper buddy has been anything but sunshine and rainbows. I swear at least once a month I’m curled up in a ball on the ground overwhelmed by nausea-inducing pain and vowing to call my OBGYN and have her take it out. Then the pain is over and I remember why I love it. I haven’t had kids and my uterus just barely fits the required measurements for the copper IUD, which is why my doctor says I probably experience so much “discomfort” (I would call it crippling stabby cramps but this is where we differ). A big part of me wants to switch to the hormonal but I just can’t bring myself to do the insertion all over again!

    • Abbie

      There’s a relatively new IUD called Skyla that’s smaller–designed for women who haven’t had babies. It is hormonal though.

    • doladex

      I had this same exact experience and finally had it removed after 1.5 years. After a few months of going without any BC except condoms (which my body loved, my mind did not), I went for the Skyla. The insertion wasn’t as bad for me the second time around, I think because I was expecting it to be worse. I’ve now had it for almost a year, and while the beginning was very spotty, I have had not one twinge of a cramp since I had it put in. I don’t think I’ve had any noticeable side effects, although I have been on the look out for mental health issues (I struggle with several) and weight gain. So far, so good (I think?). Of course every experience is different, but I would recommend thinking about it!

      Also for everyone else – I was struggling with spotting when I first got my Skyla put in, like it lasted months. So I finally went to an acupuncturist who specializes in hormone issues and it immediately stopped. Just saying…

  • Kat

    Ignoring the physical side effects for now, if you have ever had bad mental health side effects from other progesterone-only BC, PLEASE be careful about getting the hormonal coil.
    I react really badly to progesterone-only and my doctor told me that as the coil has such a small amount of hormone “it doesn’t get past the womb”. This was NOT true for me.

    I have tried just about every LARC –
    Combined pill (my fave although I regularly have to argue with docs to get it as I get migraines)
    Implant – cried a lot
    Progesterone only pill – made me suicidal. I’m not exaggerating. I had a tiny voice in the back of my head saying “this is just the pill. It will go away.” on repeat, or I would not have been able to cope. I took it for a week and a half, that was long enough.
    Copper coil – insane pain and waterfalls of blood
    Hormonal coil – pretty sad a lot, felt much better when I had it taken out

    Just to highlight that your mental health is so important and you never know how you will react to these things. Please keep a mood diary when you change contraceptives. Also if what you’re currently using works for you, don’t change!! I wish I’d never come off the combined pill in the first place.

    (Side note I have endometriosis which only flared up for the first time a year ago, I can’t help but wonder if all the messing about with contraceptives didn’t help…)

    • Emily

      The reason your doctor said it doesn’t get past the womb is that it literally does not enter your bloodstream and get to your brain or other parts of your body the way it would with a pill. I did experience intense mood swings on the mini pill but personally have had none with the IUD. I think it probably depends on your own body! I wouldn’t recommend taking the combined pill if you get migraines with aura though as that can be pretty dangerous.

    • Aimee

      I’m sorry this happened to you! I can confirm from my own experience that progestins were not great for my mental health– every form of progestin-containing birth control I have tried exacerbated my depression. Normal, physiologic progesterone is an entirely different compound than any synthetic progestin– and all progestins are a little different in terms of their side effect profile. It can be SO hard to be heard by your doctor because many will chalk up complaints of side effects to the “reverse-placebo effect”– basically that it’s all in your head! At the same time it’s hard to get truthful information about side effects because there is so much biased, anti-birth control crap out there. Fortunately I had a GYN who listened to me when I wanted to get my Mirena out– I’m now doing a combo of barriers & fertility awareness while I ponder getting the copper IUD. I can’t deny that the Mirena was more convenient but not at all worth feeling awful all the time.

      Also– the line about the hormones not “getting past the womb” is not true: see http://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(12)00046-7/abstract and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15705381. The uterus is a vascular organ and the levonorgestrel doesn’t just sit there! But there can be a lot of variation in the amount you absorb and how that affects you.

      • Kat

        Thanks for sharing! It sucks, right?! When it is in your head it’s hard to be told you’re imagining how you feel. But you gotta trust your gut (oops) on this one I think. If something feels off, it probably is.
        I’m lucky I’m some ways that I have to take medicine daily anyway (asthma) so one more pill makes no difference!
        Also I tried coming off BC but I was so terrified of getting pregnant my mental health was suffering anyway!

  • Jessica Downing

    I love mine! I got the copper one despite having horrible periods (in HS I would have to go home, heavy bleeding, throwing up, etc) and it actually has made my periods lighter and I never get bad cramps anymore. It just goes to show that everyone is different and will react differently to things!

  • Emily

    I love my Skyla IUD! I definitely really recommend going for a visit with your gynecologist before insertion to make sure you choose the right one for you and to have all of your questions answered. I stretched my 15 minute consultation to 30 plus and felt really sure when I went for the insertion. I have a few tips not mentioned here from my doctor: take 4 advil with food before you go for the insertion, and have it inserted during your period (this is common practice). It hurt some for me, and they actually had to start over part way through, but it was so worth it. My period HAS gotten heavier with worse cramps, but to me that’s a very worthwhile pay off. The one thing I wish someone told me: the strings feel more like a thin metal cord than an actual string!

    • Emily

      The other thing, re the hormonal difference between the skyla and the pill: I was already taking a mini pill, which is another synthetic form of progesterone like in the hormonal IUDs, due to having migraines with aura. I asked my doctor a million questions and finally did the math to figure out that even with the mini pill, the hormone levels are 775 to 22 or so with the IUD. Even the IUD with the most hormones was way, way less than just the MINI pill. I was always heavily impacted by the hormones on the mini pill and found that this way lower dose, plus the way that it’s localized and not in the bloodstream, helped me to feel normal and like myself!

  • MO

    “What would be a reason not to get an IUD?” << this section needs so much more consideration !! There are so many side effects that gynecologists don't speak about.

    Personally, I was never told about the TERRIBLE hormonal acne, rupturing ovarian cysts (that can damage your fertility) and the mental mood swings…until after I had them. Then my gyno admitted they were caused by the IUD.

    I'd recommend writing about natural hormonal balance – it's a MAJOR women's health issues that flies under the radar. Check out Women Code by Alissa Vitti. She's the hormone balance wizard!

    • Thamsa

      Did you get the hormonal IUD?

      • MO

        the mirena!

    • shilpi

      I agree that that section is lacking. Another component is future fertility… I don’t know if it has been studied, but anecdotally, every friend I had who used an IUD in her twenties had trouble conceiving in her thirties (IVF, miscarriages etc.) It is a small group, since I’m old and in my day, the vast majority of us birth control pills.

  • Addison

    I got the Skyla two months ago.. and I am still bleeding. It ranges from spotting to actual bleeding, and I had consistent moderate to severe cramps for the 3 weeks following the insertion. I’m talking wake me up in the middle of the night and lay on the floor for hours cramps. I have not noticed any other effects, such as acne, mood swings, etc. My cramps were so painful during and after the insertion I had to take two days off from work, and I am someone who naturally has severely painful cramps that I’ve been able to deal with since high school. As someone else said, make sure you get it inserted while on your period and take 4 ibprofen beforehand. I got the IUD to help me with my heavy periods and severe cramps, but so far it hasn’t helped. Though, I don’t regret getting it and I am still hopeful that my body starts to relax after month 3! Not posting this to scare people, just to share that clearly everyone has a different experience with IUDs.

    • Rebecca

      I haven’t experienced bleeding, but I had the exact same cramps that you describe for the first three months. The first month was awful, so much ibuprofen every day, heating pad always with me, waking up in the middle of the night, sharp sharp pains out of nowhere. Then a few days ago I realized I hadn’t experienced this in almost a month. I’ve had mine for four months. I hope the same happens for you!! It really is great once the cramps stop. I have mirena which is similar to skyla but lasts longer!

  • I know of clinics that offer nitrous oxide (laughing gas) during the insertion procedure. If you’re afraid of the pain, ask your provider if that’s an option.

  • elpug

    Had the copper one and got horrible cramps that I put up with for a couple years. Now I have the mirena which is hormonal and in for five years max. My fear was that I would be depressed on hormones as I was with the pill but this one is like a lil magician that I don’t even have to think about! Also the switch between IUDs was nearly painless and took less than 15 minutes.

  • Renee

    “But will it give me adult acne?!?”
    That’s basically the only question I have because what can I say, I’m a vain bitch.

    • Rebecca

      I haven’t noticed a change in my skin! I’ve had the mirena for 4 months. I am not prone to acne or pimples in general.

    • Tom

      I thought you were an LA girl! What’s with this D.C. stuff?

  • Tigg

    Please, if any of you is considering Mirena, ask about migraines. My experience was awful until I had it removed, one year later, and I wish I had been warned before… 😢

  • Ma

    I was super excited about getting an IUD, had done all of the research and was really looking forward to stop taking the mini pill – for which I was getting all the side effects, but clotting disorder etc limited my options. My mom has an IUD, and so does my aunt, so I was sure it was the answer to my birth control quest. Long story short, my period arrived a couple of days later so my OBGYN told me to go to the hospital where she was having her appointments on that day (as opposed to the clinic where I usually see her). The insertion was painful but not much worse than some dental procedures I’d done before. Afterwards she told me to hang around the ward for 15min-ish just in case and thankgoodness: a couple of minutes later I entered into shock, passed out and had to be resuscitated. After a few hours of excruciating pain, contractions and a lot of throwing up despite of all the intravenous meds they set me up with it was decided that I wasn’t compatible with an IUD and so I had it removed. The removal was so much more painful than the insertion, but I think it might be related to my state of mind at that point. Once it was over, though, so was the pain.

    I’m telling my story because in all of my research I never came across any mentions of that possibility: I don’t have any physical conditions that would cause that, as far as testing and examinations have concluded. Afterwards I went to a specialist who said that in 40 years of career I was maybe the fifth patient he’d seen with such a reaction (which is why he only performs IUD insertions in hospitals), so it is incredibly rare but also a real possibility for some of us, and I wish my OBGYN (and the internet, frankly) had been more forthcoming about that possibility.

  • Jessica Hodgson

    mine escaped my uterus and went on a journey through my body magic school bus style. had to get surgery to get it out. i reason that since it happened to me it wont happen to anyone i know!

    • TinySoprano

      Sounds like Ms Frizzle should’ve been charged with a DUI for that IUD…

  • Ilona

    I tried out the Mirena IUD for about 8 months and just couldn’t deal with the worst side effect of all: my acne went insane and I felt like a teenager. I searched so many forums and couldnt find any information about this side effect, but I just truly couldn’t deal with the consistent cystic acne on my jawline. I am 26, not 13! Another side effect was my breast size definitely decreased, they felt “deflated”. It’s tough to tell if this was side effects from being ON the iud or being OFF the pill (which i have been for 10 years). I finally got sick of the acne and went back on the pill, zits disappeared in 2 weeks!

  • Jessica Williams

    I did the same. Signed up because it sounded awesome, but didn’t do any research beforehand. Probably a good thing because it HURT (“you have a really tiny cervix, I’m going to have to manually dilate you”). I would have amped myself up with anxiety if I’d looked too much into it beforehand. It’s in there now though and I <3 it.

    https://stores.saks.com/jessicawilliams

  • Selena Delgado

    I loved my IUD; it lasted 10 solid years with my only complaint being heavier than normal bleeding. My problems began when my GYN attempted to retrieve it. When he pulled on the cords, they broke. His assistant handed him an instrument that looked like a foot long crochet hook, and after what seemed like an eternity of tugging (my uterus cramped, but I tried to be brave and accept the pain) he then gave up. He explained that my IUD had become fused with the walls of my uterus. I was scheduled thereafter for a DNC-like surgery 2 weeks later at the hospital so that I could be put to sleep. The experience of removal was physically and emotionally difficult, but not traumatizing. I’d considered momentarily never getting one again. After 2 months of healing, my GYN finally gave me the clearance to place a new Paraguard in.

  • icecream hangover

    I had both types of IUD and had to have them taken out because they absolutely killed my libido. Dead. I’m so sad they didn’t work for me. The copper one was a total nightmare – a period like someone had been murdered, terrible cramps and serious pain within the first few weeks of getting it in. The Mirena was ace (besides the sex drive killing bit) and I’d highly recommend!

  • Marion Yelle

    I had a pretty great experience with my IUD. I got the copper kind, because I didn’t want to mess with the hormones. Though, my periods were pretty light to begin with they got a little heavier when I had the IUD, but other than that I really had no complaints at all.

  • Ciccollina

    I really want to get an IUD but the thought of it makes me feel dizzy and nauseous. I don’t know what it is but I become the biggest sissy when I think about people poking around in my lady-areas. It’s such a shame because I hate the pill and love the idea of the hormonal IUD. I wonder if they would give me some kind of happy gas?!

    • Kiks

      Your doctor should be able to prescribe you an anxiolytic like lorazepam or alprazolam to take prior to insertion, if that would help. You’d just probably need someone to drive you home. Also they can prescribe a pill to soften the cervix so insertion is easier. Talk to your doctor about your concerns, they should be willing to work with you on an insertion plan you can handle.

      • Ciccollina

        Thank you! So helpful x

  • Jayne

    I’ve always wondered the details of how IUD’s with progesterone effect the 4 phases of your ovulatory cycle…does anyone know?

  • Beasliee

    Sorry to read so many women have had negative experiences but I LOVE my Mirena IUD.
    I had my first for 4 years and I’m 1 year into my second.
    The insertion hurt but no more than a smear test and although I suffered with nausea and cramps that night, by morning I was fine. (And these were much ‘nicer’ than my standard period experience.)
    I have experienced no side effects – only sheer joy!
    After 10 years of painful, irregular, heavy, emotional periods whilst on various types of pill, the Mirena has been a miracle and I suggest women who are struggling at least give it a go as it’s very likely to work for you.
    (Can we have a period horror story discussion one day?!)

  • Elif Nimet

    A natural, medicinal remedy helped me a LOT during those first-day cramps. Literally saved me. That’s the best advice I can give heh. For real though, I am obsessed with my Skyla. I’ve had no crazy side-effects, but never did with my BC, either. Really depends on your body.

  • Ruthy

    Amelia, great topic! I’m sure this article will help many women. Thank you.

    As a pharmaceutical rep that represents an IUD I would say that to my knowledge the ONLY IUD that can be removed and women can start conceiving right away with is the NON-HORMONAL version. With the hormonal versions there is usually a time frame before woman is able to become pregnant.

    • Kiks

      Thanks for confirming this. I’m a pharmacist (hi, drug buddy!) and still have had a hard time finding a straight answer on the subject. I had a Mirena IUD removed last year and it took a good 5-6 months for my period to start up again. This is information women should be aware of if they want to start a family. I would’ve had it removed much sooner if I’d known there was even a chance it would take so long for my body to reset. My doctor just kept telling me the return to fertility was immediate.

  • Lorange E

    I love my Mirena IUD. Mostly because I no longer have to remember to take a pill and I no longer get periods. I did have about six months of acne as my body acclimated to the hormonal change, but it wasn’t horrible cystic acne, just annoying acne.

    Insertion was NOT FUN at all. I haven’t had children, so I knew it was probably going to be tough. I resent that doctors describe it as “discomfort.” Sorry it was more like I could feel someone probing deep inside my organs, moving them around and I had to do everything not to leap away from it. My doctor told me to just take some advil before I came in. I’ve since learned that other people are given serious drugs and numbing stuff. How do I get a doctor to take my pain seriously and help me avoid it?? It really felt like this is one of those “oh well it’s woman pain so tough” sort of situations.

  • SChase

    I got the Skyla over a year ago and am very happy. it’s the 3-year one, and physically smaller than the Mirena. The “installation” was uncomfortable and that day I kinda felt crampy, but it wasn’t bad enough to even call it “pain”. I have had 0 problems ever since and my period is basically disappearing, which is cool, but it’s mentally confusing because normally when you don’t get your period it’s a bad thing. But I’m all about it.

  • SL

    IMPORTANT TIP: cough at the moment it’s inserted!! Then it doesn’t hurt. It really was not bad at all. For me it really helped that the doctor talked and explained me all the way through. Also she have me an odd compliment, apparently I have a beautiful cervix :P.

    I had a copper IUD for four years. You should know there are different kinds of copper IUD’s. I got mine taken out recently and only now realized I had the biggest copper IUD around. I am sad I didn’t know there were different kinds, I would have opted for a smaller one with less side effects instead. For four years I experienced bad PMS and terrible periods, which I didn’t have before. I thought it was worth it, because of the safety and because I had a boyfriend, but oh man it was so hard to pull myself up from my moods after every cycle. Because of the lack of hormones the copper IUD should not effect moods so much, but I am pretty sure it did to me… Other people similar experiences? I really hope it improves now I am off it. Maybe I will get a gynefix, the smallest copper IUD. Or a hormonal one, but I’d rather not.

    • Bek

      I didn’t know this. Is there any other besides Paragard and gynefix?

      • SL

        I am from the Netherlands and here we have four kinds… They are called differently than in the US I think. Mine was called T-safe 🙂

        • Yes- I just got a copper iud in and my moods are crazy- like teenager going through first periods crazy- hard to tell if it’s just a real bummer to bleed for that long or if it’s actually the iud affecting my mood. I think mine is pretty small for what it’s worth, and the effect on my period has been insane- not worth it in my opinion. I just got mine because we’re waiting for my husband to have a vasectomy, I’d honestly rather just abstain- and I think he would rather do that too- the ability to have unprotected sex for two weeks each month (because you’re bleeding for the rest of it) is greatly hampered by the fact that my moods are so insane that even I don’t want to have sex with me! lol!

  • Bo

    This article did not include a section of how to prepare for the insertion. One should try to do this while on their period and take an anti-inflammatory pill 2 hours ahead of time.

  • ApocalypsoFacto

    I’m on my third IUD. My reason for getting one was that I had developed endometrial hyperplasia at one point in my early 20s, and my GYN was concerned about future risk for uterine and endometrial cancer. If you’ve had hyperplasia, having a hormonal IUD cuts your risk of future cancer drastically, and the risk drops lower the longer you’ve had an IUD in. I had always had terrible periods – flooding bleeding and bad, bad cramps – so going to no or extremely light periods has been awesome for me. I got my first IUD inserted after I had my son and will keep going with them until I hit 45. I suffered for a long, long time – many years – before getting the IUD and now I wish I had gotten one years earlier. I don’t have any of the side effects (like awful migraines) I had on BCP, and none of the period problems either. It’s not the right solution for everyone, but if you have problem periods, talk to your doctor. Having an IUD has literally changed my life.

  • Leah

    My IUD gave me repeat thrush and BV. I also had recurrent water infections during the time I had it that promptly stopped once it was removed. They provide an area for bacteria to cling to, so if you suffer with any sensitivity in your PH balance down there, don’t get one!

  • Thamsa

    I had tried the pill for a few years before deciding on the IUD. I first went to the sexual health clinic because those ladies were so helpful and gave me so much research before I could make my decision. In addition to what the doctor gave me, I asked my mother ( as I do for all of my health/medical concerns). And then returned to the clinic a couple of weeks later. The insertion was uncomfortable but not painful and I had heavy and painful periods for at least six months. Then for at least a year the periods were very heavy. I’m at the two and a half year mark and the biggest change is that my periods are longer,went from 5 to 7 days. I’ve some friends who have had very different sides effects though. You just never really know how your body will react. But it’s good to have a sound understanding of your current health before deciding to insert it.

  • Laurence

    this article being trans and queer inclusive just made my day.

  • Okay- okay okay okay…. just this- “Copper IUDs can make periods heavier and more crampy in initial months of use. For most people, periods return to normal, but this may not be a great option if you already experience painful cramps. It could make them worse.” is exactly what my dr said to me too, it seemed like a reasonable side effect, something I could put up with. But let me deconstruct this for you- firstly “initial months of use”- makes me think like maybe first two-three months, and “heavier flow” sounds like you’re going to bleed a bit more during your regular length period- but folks- no- NO! when they say Initial months- they mean 6 months to A YEAR!!!!! and when they say heavier and more crampy they mean over twice as long and with increased flow- like if your period is usually five days with two days of heavy flow, and you have manageable cramps- you will now have a period that lasts 12 days- and has at least 5 days of flow so bad you will soak an overnight pad in three hours. You also will probably end up anemic or light headed by day 8. It angers me so much that these side effects are seen as reasonable, and acceptable, and normal- especially when I think of the male contraceptive pill that was quashed due to the side effects being too harsh- but we’ve been putting up with hemorrhagic period flows in the name of hormone free contraception for years- UGH! patriarchy!

  • Lauren Carlson

    I know some people mentioned this in the comments already, but the only slightly odd side-effect for me was that my boyfriend could feel the strings and they poked him. However, this was an easy fix! I went back into my gyno for the 1-month sonogram to make sure everything was kosher, and she just went back up in there and clipped the strings. Additionally, she said they are stiff at first but soften after time.

  • Isabelle Plan

    Not to sound overly dramatic or anything but, this article might be (IS) a little bit too positive.

    I had a UID 2 times, and 2 times it moved due to too intense menstrual cramps.
    No one told me about the fact that i can happen. Neither the first nor the second time.

    And let me tell you a bit more about the whole story :
    I had the first one after I tried the pill and it wasn’t for me for so many reasons (I kept forgetting, hormones where driving me nuts and creating problems in my body and don’t wih upon anyone), my gynecologist said a copper UID was the best and pretty much only option I had (because well …hormones).
    I had it for a year and some months, when one day I had a terrible cramp, that I quickly dismissed for some reason because I was told that sometimes it can be painful.

    You guessed it, it moved, making it useless (and potentially harmful too, hello uteral perforation !) and I fell pregnant. At 19. When I thought I was ok for at least 4 years.
    Words cannot begin to describe the shock I was in, believing I was completely safe from this, because my doctor told me so, and never bothered to talk to me about the risks.

    The rest of this story felt like a complete blur, in which every medical person I saw made me feel usafe and somehow lied to.

    And if that wasn’t enough, they proposed me to put aother one as I was still asleep on the table “to avoid the painful contractions”. No need to say, I said yes to it but without really thinking about it.

    That one moved aswell. Thnakfully, that time, I wasn’t having sex for months. I took it out, and never looked back.
    It was traumatic in many ways, because people don’t take the time to fully educate on the subject when it is their fucking job. and I won’t even start on medical staff that were rude or incriminating me for being imprudent (lol fuck you).

    Not only is this article ridiculously biased, it is also very dangerous, because many people won’t take much time to do their own research after reading it.

    I am so sorry Amelia, I absolutely adore you and your articles, but this one is missing the point.

  • Lizz D

    I had constant cysts from my IUD and also it expelled itself from my uterus and had to be surgically removed! There’s more people aren’t saying!! Most of my female friends have had theirs removed too for extreme cramping, bad waves of uncontrollable depression, and losing the strings.