July 22, 2024

Exploring IUDs: Understanding the Side Effects for Informed Decision-Making

6 min read

Intrauterine devices, or IUDs, are quite popular contraception amongst women all over the world due to their suitability and efficiency. While IUDs are a great option for many women, they aren’t perfect. Just like other birth control methods, there’s a chance of experiencing some side effects. Talking to a doctor about these beforehand is important. 

According to CDC, 10.4% of American females aged between 15-49 use IUDs as an effective method of reversible contraception. The failure rate is extremely low, from 0.02% to 0.08%. It is also one of the chief reasons for using IUDs by Mothers Day Gifts.

In this article, we aim to explore the various types of IUDs, their mechanisms, and the rare side effects associated with them. 

What Are IUDs?

IUDs are T-shaped devices that are small-sized and inserted within the uterus to avoid unplanned pregnancy. There are two major kinds of IUDs: non-hormonal and hormonal. Hormonal IUDs release a progestin hormone known as levonorgestrel, which thickens the mucus around the cervix to stop the sperm from reaching the egg. They also thin the uterus lining, making it less receptive to implantation. 

Alternatively, the non-hormonal IUDs are made of copper, which produces an inflammatory reaction that is poisonous to sperm, averting fertilization. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, both types of IUDs have rates of preventing unplanned pregnancy. These devices are more than 99% effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. Hormonal IUDs last up to 3-6 years, depending on the brand, and non-hormonal copper IUDs last up to 10-12 years.

Severe Side Effects of IUDs 

While IUDs are usually safe and efficient, they can sometimes cause severe side effects. One of the most serious complications is the risk of perforation, where the IUD punctures the lining of the uterus wall. It can lead to pain, bleeding, and in fewer cases, damage to nearby organs like the intestines or the bladder. 

Another potential severe side effect is expulsion, where the IUD completely or partially comes out of the uterus. Expulsion can result in decreased effectiveness of the IUD and may require reinsertion. It’s important to pursue medical consideration if you undergo any serious side effects after getting an IUD.

According to TorHoerman Law, a very common instance when IUDs have had serious side effects is the Paragard IUD. These IUD devices were reported to break or rupture while being removed, which caused severe injuries to the users. The injury, in some cases, was so severe that the users ended up filing a lawsuit against Teva Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Paragard IUDs. 

If you or someone you know has used a Paragard IUD and have suffered injuries, you are eligible to file a Paragard lawsuit. You can seek compensation for your sufferings and pain caused due to the use of a Paragard IUD. 

Common Side Effects of IUDs

Common side effects of IUDs may include irregular bleeding. The body adjusts to the device, which may take a few months, and so the bleeding may occur during that time. It can manifest as spotting between periods or heavier periods. Cramping is another side effect, especially in the early days after insertion. Changes in menstrual flow are also possible, with some individuals experiencing lighter periods while others may have heavier bleeding. 

Vaginal discharge may increase temporarily. There is also a small risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), especially in the first few weeks after insertion, causing pelvic pain and fever. Pain during sex may occur, especially if the IUD’s strings are not properly trimmed. Infections, although rare, can also occur, with symptoms like chills, fever, and pelvic pain. 

According to WebMD, another common side effect of using IUDs is the development of ovarian cysts. Approximately 10% of women using IUDs may develop these cysts in their ovaries within the first year of installation. However, these fluid-filled sacs are generally harmless, and they disappear within three months on their own. 

Less Common Side Effects

Less common side effects of intrauterine devices (IUDs) may include acne, which can occur due to hormonal changes caused by IUDs containing progestin. Mood changes are also possible, with some individuals experiencing mood swings or changes in their emotional state. Weight gain is another less common side effect that has been reported by some users of hormonal IUDs. You can consult your gynae if you find something very unusual and concerning after getting an IUD.

Managing Side Effects

Managing the side effects of intrauterine devices (IUDs) involves a combination of strategies to alleviate symptoms and ensure the IUD’s continued effectiveness. For irregular bleeding, using menstrual products like pads or liners can help manage the changes in flow. Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can be effective in reducing cramping. For pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or other infections, antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor. 

Acne related to hormonal IUDs may improve with proper skin care and, in some cases, switching to a non-hormonal IUD. Mood changes and weight gain can be addressed through lifestyle changes like regular workouts and a balanced diet. You must communicate any side effects with your doctor to obtain the best course of action.

When to Seek Medical Attention

When using an intrauterine device (IUD), it’s important to be aware of signs that may indicate a need for medical attention. If you experience severe or prolonged abdominal pain accompanied by fever, chills, or abnormal vaginal discharge, you should seek medical help immediately. These could be signs of a serious complication such as perforation, infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

If you notice the IUD strings are missing or longer, or you can feel the IUD itself, you must contact your healthcare provider. The IUD has probably been moved from its original location. You must ensure that it returns to its place and be effective again. If you experience heavy or prolonged bleeding, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider for guidance and appropriate management.

Making an Informed Decision

Discuss your contraceptive needs and medical history with a healthcare provider to check if an IUD will be good for you or not. 

Understanding the potential benefits and risks, as well as the different types of IUDs available, can help you make a decision. The decision must align with your reproductive health goals. Discussing the potential side effects of their management and knowing when to seek medical attention can empower you to make an informed choice.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do side effects typically last after getting an IUD inserted?

Side effects typically last for a few days to a few weeks after insertion as your body adjusts to the device. Common side effects like irregular bleeding, cramps, and unusual menstrual flow usually improve over time. If side effects persist or deteriorate, get in touch with your gynecologist.

Are there any differences in side effects between hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs?

Yes, there are differences in side effects between hormonal and non-hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs). Hormonal IUDs may cause side effects, unusual menstrual flow, acne and pimples, and mood swings, which are related to the hormones they release. Non-hormonal copper IUDs may lead to increased menstrual bleeding and cramping for some individuals due to the device’s effect on the uterine lining.

When should I seek medical attention for side effects related to my IUD?

You should seek medical attention for side effects like severe or prolonged abdominal pain, fever, chills, or abnormal vaginal discharge. There might be some serious complications inside. Additionally, if you cannot feel the IUD strings or if you experience heavy or prolonged bleeding, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider.

In conclusion, intrauterine devices are highly efficient and convenient contraceptive options with various benefits and potential side effects. Understanding the different types of IUDs, their mechanisms of action, and their side effects is crucial for making an informed decision. 

While IUDs are generally safe, you must be aware of the possible risks and seek medical attention when required. Ultimately, discussing your contraceptive needs and concerns with a healthcare provider can help you determine if an IUD is the right choice for you.