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Advantages and Disadvantages of the IUD

IUD Advantages and DisadvantagesAll forms of IUDs have more benefits than risks, making it one of the safest, most advantageous forms of birth control today. In fact, according to this study, 40% of OBGYNs use an IUD as their preferred method of birth control! All types of IUDs are more than 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies, and the best part is once you have it inserted, you don't have to worry about it for years! No daily pills, no constant appointments, no hassle in general.

Other benefits? Try complete reversibility. If you want to have a baby, simply go back to your doctor, have the IUD removed, and you can get pregnant almost right away. As for costs, even if you don't have insurance, you only need to pay one up-front bill. For example, if you're not covered and you buy a Paragard (which lasts for 12 years) for $900, that's a monthly cost of $6.25. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, however, most insurances fully cover the IUD and other forms of birth control.

Check out this nifty infographic for a quick overview. Then below, you'll find more in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of the IUD.

IUD Advantages and Disadvantages Chart

Let's discuss the more esoteric pros and cons for each type of IUD now, starting with hormonal IUDs.

The hormonal IUDs (Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, and Kyleena) use levonorgestrel, a compound that can produce unanticipated side effects. Some of the positive effects include: 

1. Reduced menstrual bleeding, in some cases up to 90%

2. Reduced cramps

3. In a few cases, stopped periods altogether

4. Prevention of endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of uterine lining) and endometrial cancer (cancer of uterine lining - this can stem from endometrial hyperplasia)

5. Relieved endometriosis (where the tissue of your uterine lining grows outside the uterus)

6. Mirena specifically has been found to reduce the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease.

Some of the negative side effects include:

1. Acne
2. Irregular periods
3. Mood changes
4. Nausea
5. Vaginal discharge (uncommon)
6. Ovarian cysts (uncommon)
7. Mild to moderate cramping and irritation in the first few months

Obviously, these won't occur with all women, but it's important to let your doctor know if you think you are susceptible to any of these side effects.

As for the non-hormonal IUD, Paragard, much of the pros and cons are the same, but there are a few differences. Positive side effects include:
1. It can be used as emergency contraceptive if inserted within five days of unprotected sex
2. Lasts the longest (up to 12 years!)
3. Does not affect mood like the hormonal IUDs can

Paragard has some unique drawbacks though, including:
1. Heavier periods and
2. Menstrual cramping

Perhaps the two most important notes for all IUD types are that they do NOT protect against STDs, and that their insertion procedure can be very uncomfortable. Most doctors suggest getting the IUD inserted during your period, when your cervix is wider, as this makes the procedure less painful. But by most testimonials, all of the upsides outweigh the short-term downsides.




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