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Many Women Hate the IUD. Here’s Why You Might, Too

May 7, 2024

The IUD, or intrauterine (birth control) device, is one birth control method that evokes mixed reactions among women.

In this post, let’s discuss 12 reasons women hate the IUD, gathered both from my experience as a GP and health educator on sexual health.

doctor about to fit an IUD - article explores why women hate Copper or Mirena IUD

The IUD has been among the most important tools in a woman’s birth control arsenal since the 1960s when its use as a coil became popular.

If you don’t know what it is, it’s a small device that is inserted via the vagina into the womb to prevent pregnancy.

The copper (non-hormonal) IUD does this by preventing fertilisation and implantation, while the hormone-containing IUD also prevents ovulation in addition to making fertilisation and implantation less likely to happen.

Both the copper IUD and the Progesterone IUD (such as Mirena, Jadess, Kyleen, Skyla, Liletta etc) have nearly 100% effectiveness rates, and one of their most significant advantages is that you don’t have to remember to use them or insert them – for 5 or 10 years in some cases.

Once inserted, you don’t even feel it, so you can get on with your busy life as an achiever doing whatever you want.

What, my friends, is not to like?

A lot – according to many women who would not wish the IUD, whether it’s copper or progesterone – on their worst enemy.

But before I share their reasons, it’s important to say that a great number of women champion the IUD and think it is one of the best choices they ever made for birth control. 

So, everyone’s experience is individual, and just because your friend or sister had a horrendous experience with one method doesn’t mean you will, too.

However, it’s good to hear other people’s experiences, and you can use a wide breadth of information to make up your own mind.

Problems when fitting the IUD

Pain during insertion of the device – this is one that women experience to different degrees depending on your pain threshold or anxiety during the proceedure.

To a very small extent, the skill of your IUD fitter is important. Clinicians undergo a lot of training to perform the procedure and help make sure you are comfortable.

It may be an uncomfortable or painful experience for some women, while for others, it isn’t.

During insertion of the device, your clinician will apply some anesthetic gel to help ease its fitting. But if you are especially worried, you can take some painkillers like Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) or Ibuprofen just before the fitting to soothe any cramps.

Many practitioners will also arrange fitting during the periods – to ensure you are not pregnant when it is fit. But if it is not fitted within your period, a negative pregnancy test before fitting is fine.

IUD Side Effects

The next reasons apply after your IUD is in place and may occur within hours for some.

Pelvic Pain

First is pelvic pain. Now, this is described as painful cramps from the lower part of the abdomen, sometimes radiating upwards or around the back. Some can be moderate, but other girls experience pretty severe pain that brings them to the ED.

What could be happening here is the effect of inflammation as the womb adjusts to the presence of a foreign device.

This leads to the body producing excessive amounts of chemicals, such as prostaglandins.

These lead to excessive muscle cramping in the womb, such as what you have with painful periods of primary dysmenorrhoea.

So we expect some cramping, but it settles with a few hours to days of fitting.

Whatever the timing, report any pelvic pain that is severe or getting worse to your doctor so we can check for other causes unrelated to the IUD.

Irregular/Abnormal Bleeding

The next side effect is bleeding. Usually, the problem is irregular periods and heavy bleeding.

It is usually more common with the copper IUD, but it can happen with the hormone IUD as well.

Women have described very heavy bleeding with clots, change to their period pattern with prolonged bleeding and unexpected bleeding. Some complain of continuous bleeding since they started the method.

Again, we believe the abnormal bleeding pattern and excess amount are due to the inflammation triggered by the IUD. It is thought that the bleeding often decreases over time with most women, and those on the hormone IUD may experience less frequent bleeding periods, especially after the first year.

Some women experience some relief using certain NSAIDs or other drugs like Mefenamic or Tranexamic acid to control the bleeding.

Hormone Side effects of IUD

Many women using the hormone IUD also complain of different side effects that may be linked to the progesterone in the coil. They include problems like acne, breast tenderness, headache and mood changes.

They can happen to different degrees, but women with these complaints often experience relief after they stop using the IUD. 

Some women using both types complain of loss of sex drive; however, there isn’t enough proof to indicate the coil causes this problem generally as some women feel no different while others even say their sex life improves.

So if a woman complains that he libido has dropped since starting the coil, we do consider other causes, and if nothing is obvious, advise a change in the coil. 

Problems Living with IUD

So, these are some of the more common side effects that you may experience from the IUD.

But now, what are some other reasons women absolutely hate living with it?

It Might Fall Out

The fear it may pop out or fall out.

Well, it is true, the coil could fall out – the overall risk of your IUD falling out is around 1 in 20 and most common in the first year and especially within the first three months after insertion.

The coil is more likely to fall out immediately after childbirth, in teenagers, people with fibroids and HMB, other causes of a distorted womb, if you are using a menstrual cup, and if you’ve had a coil fall out before. You need to keep track of the threads by feeling them at least once a month after your menstrual period.

Perforate the Womb

Some women hate living with the fear that it may perforate their womb or bowel organs and travel to other parts of the body. I can certainly understand this fear, but how often does it happen? Not much.

According to FSRH, the rate of your coil perforating the womb is very low. We are speaking of around one or two women in 1000 (1–2 in 1000.) Perforation is also more common in some women after childbirth.

Signs of perforation include low abdominal or pelvic pain, being unable to feel your threads or a change in your bleeding pattern. 

Risk of Infections

The next reason women cannot abide the IUD is the fear of increased risk of infections. Many women are pretty sure that the IUD made them experience infections like Thrush and BV, Bacterial vaginosis in a way they never had before the coil.

Some of this fear is valid, and this may genuinely be a result of the IUD, but we don’t see this in all women with the IUD.

But we know the risk of serious pelvic infections is highest in the three weeks after IUD fitting, but it is not common. If a woman with an IUD develops a severe infection like a PID, it’s important to receive urgent treatment.

Very rarely, women who’ve had the IUD for a prolonged period may experience a chronic bacterial pelvic infection. 

Removal challenges

Another reason women worry about the IUD is that it may be difficult to remove. This is usually a worry for a lady who experienced a difficult fitting, or it may be a reality if the strings cannot be easily reached or, for some reason, the IUD has become fixed to the lining of the womb. 

Another is the possibility of the IUD causing infertility. Of course, many women experience a delay in the return of fertility after using the Depo shot. However, this is not the case for the IUD, as fertility generally returns quickly after removal.

Fear of cancer also makes some women worry. This is related to the Progesterone IUD, where there is a small risk of breast cancer associated with using the coil. 

In addition, some dislike the possibility of the IUD causing infertility. Of course, many women experience a delay in the return of fertility after using the Depo shot. However, this is not the case for the IUD, as fertility generally returns quickly after removal.

Lastly, some women hate the idea of having a foreign device in the womb – they may simply prefer other forms of contraception that better suit their needs and preferences.

Would you recommend the IUD?

What has been your experience with the IUD? Do you love it or hate it – and if the latter, why?

 It’s important to remember that no two people will have the same experience, so please bear this in mind when deciding if you want to go for any method.

Check out these other videos in our smart birth control playlist.

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Editing by AskAwayHealth Team

Disclaimer

All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a health practitioner or reach us directly.

This blog post may contain marketing links to third-party sites that Askawayhealth is not affiliated with. We do not endorse or guarantee the products or services offered on these sites. We advise readers to exercise their own discretion when making purchases or using services from these third-party sites, and Askawayhealth bears no responsibility for any outcomes resulting from such actions.

Image Credits: Canva

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