Does An IUD Affect Your Period? It All Depends On Which Type You Get
With a 99 percent effectiveness rate, more women are using IUDs for birth control. Health providers prefer IUDs more than any other birth control, and right after the 2016 election, Planned Parenthood reported a 900 percent increase in IUD demand — especially since it's free under the Affordable Care Act and could outlast Trump's pregnancy.
To be able to get up every day and go about your life without having to think about popping a pill or replacing a ring once a month is definitely a relief. But while the IUD definitely makes life easier, it's not without its downsides, of course. For starters, some women report pain or discomfort when it's inserted, while others report an increase in yeast infections because of the IUD. Then there are those who have complications, as my sister did, and have to have it taken out and re-inserted. However, an IUD is a saving grace for plenty of women who want to have control over their body and be in charge of the decision as to when they'll have kids, if they even want to have kids at all.
Having an IUD also affects your period; sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Here's what to expect in regards to the effects an IUD could possibly have on your period.
1. Your Period Could Stop All Together
If you're someone who would like to kiss your period adieu, then you may be in luck. An IUD just might be able to let you do that, so breathe a sigh of relief and start planning that goodbye party now.
"There are several types of IUDs currently available," Dr. Prudence Hall, M.D, Founder And Medical Director of The Hall Center and author of Radiant Again & Forever, tells Bustle. "The first type are 'medicated’ IUDs, named the Mirena and Skyla. Both contain synthetic progesterone, just like the birth control pill does. With time, the Mirena, which has more progesterone than the Skyla, will frequently stop periods completely or at least drastically reduce the amount of the period."
2. Your Period Could Get Lighter
But if you think you might miss your period, then you can get a toned-down version of it, so to speak.
"The Skyla has less progesterone which allows most women to have menstrual cycles," says Dr. Hall, "although they are usually very light. Both of [Mirena and Skyla] interrupt a woman's natural hormone cycle, but less than the birth control pill, which completely shuts down a woman's natural hormone production. Between both of these IUDs, I prefer the Skyla as it interferes less with a woman's hormones and her cycles."
3. Your Period Could Get Heavier
But should you choose the copper IUD, which doesn't have any hormones, then your dreams of a life sans period just aren't meant to be. You could actually find yourself walking into a monthly blood bath, to put it dramatically.
"The other type of IUD is the Paraguard, which does not contain hormones and does not interfere with a woman's natural hormone production," says Dr. Hall. "However, women may experience heavier cycles."
4. Your Menstrual Cramps Might Get Worse
And, because a heavier flow isn't annoying enough, choosing Paraguard can even take your cramps to a whole new level; a level for which there might not even be enough ibuprofen in the world. I can feel my insides aching at just the thought.
"[Women may experience] more menstrual cramping than prior to the Paraguard placement," says Dr. Hall.
5. Your Period Is Likely To Be A Little Messed Up At First
No matter which IUD you choose, don't expect it to be a completely smooth-sailing transition, in regards to your period, after it's been inserted.
"With both types of IUDs," says Dr. Hall, "women can experience spotting or irregular menses for the first 3-6 months after IUD placement." So definitely stock up on pantyliners to protect your favorite underwear.
Talk To Your Doctor And Choose The Right IUD For You
Because the type of IUD you have has everything to do with how it will affect your period, it's important to be aware of how your body works and what's going to be the right IUD choice for you (if it's even the best birth control for you). For example, if you already have heavy bleeding and cramps from hell, you probably don't want to even consider Paraguard as an IUD option.
"If a woman already has very heavy menses and cramps, the Skyla IUD is perhaps a better option," says Dr. Hall. "If a woman has normal cycles, I prefer recommending the Paraguard, because maintaining our healthy natural hormones has great benefits."
As with all methods of birth control, it's crucial to do your IUD research, be honest with your doctor about what you need and want, and proceed from there.