A Guide to Types of IUDs

Medically Reviewed By Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Was this helpful?
1

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small pieces of plastic that work as contraceptives to prevent pregnancy when a doctor inserts them into your uterus. Two common types of IUDs are hormonal and copper. This article will discuss the differences between the two types of IUDs. It will also talk about the different brands you can get and how IUDs work.

Hormonal IUDs

Image of an IUD device against a cream background
Martí Sans/Stocksy United

Hormonal IUDs are T-shaped devices made of flexible plastic. Once inserted, they release a small amount of the hormone progestin over the course of several years. Progestin is a humanmade chemical, similar to the hormone progesterone that your body makes naturally.

A hormonal IUD can prevent pregnancy. It can also help with heavy or painful periods.

Hormonal IUDs prevent pregnancy as follows:

  1. The hormones in the IUD thicken the mucus in your cervix to keep the sperm from reaching the egg.
  2. These hormones can also stop your body from ovulating.
  3. This prevents pregnancy because you cannot become pregnant if your ovaries do not release an egg.

Read about what to expect during IUD insertion.

Copper IUDs

Copper IUDs are made from the same flexible, T-shaped plastic as hormonal IUDs. They are also wrapped in copper.

These IUDs do not contain hormones. Instead, the copper helps prevent pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood. This is because sperm do not like copper.

The copper changes the way the sperm moves and keeps it from being able to reach the egg. If the sperm cannot reach the egg, you cannot become pregnant.

Copper IUDs help prevent pregnancy without releasing any hormones into your body.

What are the different brands of IUDs?

You can discuss several brands of IUDs with a healthcare professional, and they can help you select the right one for you. Here are the different brands of IUDs:

BrandTypeEffective timeframe
Paragardcopperup to 12 years
Mirenahormonalup to 7 years
Kyleenahormonalup to 5 years
Lilettahormonalup to 7 years
Skylahormonalup to 3 years

The most common side effect of hormonal IUDs is they can help manage your period.

Hormonal IUDs can help reduce cramping during your period and lessen the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). They can also lighten your periods or stop them altogether.

Other side effects of hormonal IUDs may include:

Most of these side effects go away between 3 and 6 months after insertion.

Copper IUDs can cause more cramping and bleeding during your period for the first 3–6 months after insertion. This typically lessens over time.

Other side effects of copper IUDs include:

  • spotting between periods
  • heavier periods
  • irregular periods
  • worse cramping during your periods
  • pain during insertion or discomfort for a few days afterward

What are the advantages and disadvantages of IUDs?

IUDs are a highly effective method of birth control. When they are inserted properly, they are up to 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. You may want to consider a few factors when discussing this type of birth control with your doctor, including the following advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of IUDs

The advantages of IUDs include:

  • They can prevent pregnancy for many years.
  • Once inserted, they are effective right away.
  • Almost anyone with a uterus can use them.
  • There are typically no hormonal side effects like acne, breast tenderness, and headaches.
  • They do not interrupt sexual activity.
  • They are safe to use when nursing.
  • Your fertility typically returns as soon as they are removed.
  • They are not affected by other medications.
  • They do not typically affect your weight or increase your risk of certain cancers.

Learn about what to expect after an IUD removal.

Disadvantages of IUDs

The disadvantages of IUDs include:

  • They may cause your periods to become heavier or more painful.
  • They do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), so you still need to use a condom.
  • If you develop an infection during insertion, it can lead to a pelvic infection if left untreated.
  • There is a risk of perforation, or tearing, of the uterus and migration of the IUD.
  • There is a risk of expulsion of the IUD out of the uterus.

Many people who choose to stop using an IUD do so because of pain or vaginal bleeding. These side effects are not common, though.

Summary

IUDs are a highly effective form of birth control. There are two types of IUD, hormonal and copper.

They are effective for many years and typically do cause many side effects. Most of the side effects you may experience directly after insertion clear up after a few months.

There are many advantages of IUDs, but there are disadvantages as well. Discuss these with your doctor before deciding which type and brand is right for you.

Was this helpful?
1
Medical Reviewer: Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 9
View All Birth Control Articles
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.