Advantages & Disadvantages of an IUD

What are the advantages?

  • Long acting reversible contraception
  • Very effective contraception
  • Can stay in place for five or more years
  • Can be easily removed if you don’t like it or want to get pregnant
  • It is possible to get pregnant as soon as the IUD is removed
  • It does not affect breastfeeding
  • It does not interfere with sexual intercourse
  • No-one else needs know you are using it
  • There is no evidence of an increased risk of cancer
  • Copper IUDs do not contain any hormones
  • Copper IUDs can also be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse (emergency contraception).
  • Mirena IUDs have a very small dose of hormone and most women have no side effects from this
  • Mirena reduces period bleeding and pain so most women will have light bleeding or no periods at all.

What are the disadvantages?

  • You have to have the IUD inserted. This is usually a simple, safe procedure carried out by a doctor or nurse who is experienced at fitting IUDs. It takes about 5 – 10 minutes.
  • Most women have some period like cramping. Some women feel pain and occasionally feel faint when the IUD is put in or taken out.
  • There are some risks from having an IUD put in:
    • There may be a small chance of infection (about 1%) when an IUD is put in
    • There is a very small risk of damage or perforation of the womb (about 1 in 1,000)
  • You may (rarely) get pregnant with an IUD in place.
  • Any pregnancy can be ectopic (in the tubes). This risk is less than in women not using any contraception.
  • Copper IUD may cause more bleeding and cramping during periods.
  • Copper can very rarely cause an allergic reaction.
  • Mirena may initially cause irregular, light bleeding for more days than normal.
  • Mirena may cause acne, headaches, breast tenderness, nausea, mood changes, loss of libido or weight gain.

IUD can occasionally come out by itself (about 5%) – you can check the strings are still in place after each period or at the beginning of each month.

IUD’s are ideally suited to women in monogamous relationships, as exposure to different sexual partners increases the risk of infection and pelvic inflammatory disease.