When it comes to choosing your birth control, it’s always a little complicated. There are so many different routes to consider, all of which have different pros and cons. While we should always listen to what our doctor suggests for what they think is best for us, it’s always nice to hear other people’s experiences with birth control — whether they’ve experienced some of the side effects we fear ourselves, or help us by totally recommending them.
When it comes to IUDs, the waters are a little murkier than other forms of birth control. Many fear the insertion too much to consider getting one, while others made the switch and claim they’d never go back. Read on to hear from 20 women about their experience on an IUD.
On the pros and cons:
“Cons: While not having a period, I have been spotting for three months sporadically. It’s also given me weird abdominal cramps that are unpredictable, forcing me to take naproxen more frequently throughout the month (instead of just once a month for pain management). I gained weight (10 pounds thus far), and hormonally I feel kind of crazy, but that could just be in my head. I wouldn’t subject my body to it and would find some other way of contraceptive.
Pros: I have not had a ‘real’ period in three months, which means decreased pain related to endometriosis. I also don’t have to remember to take a pill every day, and hopefully, won’t need to have endo surgery for a while.”
“I have to start out by saying I love having an IUD, and highly recommend it! I made the decision to wait to have sex until I was married, and was not on birth control before my IUD, so it was a bit intimidating making the decision, but I haven’t looked back since.
Pros: My close friends had had positive experiences with the IUD, and my sister’s bad experience with the pill (some amounts of depression) made me know I didn’t want to do any type of pill. My IUD lasted three years, was low maintenance (place it and forget it), and I get little to no period on it.
Cons: The pain of the procedure. The day it gets placed is not for the faint of heart; however, I think, because I had known it was so painful from friends, that I built up the pain so much that the actual placement didn’t reach the pain I thought it would. Also, random periods. For the first six months, I feel like you never know when bleeding will occur. Cramps came out of nowhere and during cardio workouts for me for the first 6-8 months.”
“I had an IUD called Skyla, which is effective for three years. I personally had a fantastic experience with it. I’ve always had regular periods, but with pretty brutal cramps and bloating. Other types of birth control just didn’t work for me — I used to love Nuvaring, but it got really expensive and I suck at remembering to take birth control pills. The only con was that the insertion hurt like cramps I’ve never experienced.”
On (finally) not needing to remember to take a pill at the same time every day:
“The upside to the IUD is never worrying about taking birth control according to time. I can go about my day mindlessly (which is good because I’m very busy). It also makes sex more fluid (there’s no need to use condoms, especially if I have a regular partner). I also no longer have cramps, and used to have excruciatingly painful cramps. The downside is inconsistent periods and the possibility of it poking my partner’s penis.”
“I’ve had my IUD for just over two and a half years now, and I cannot stop sharing how much I love it. I used birth control pills for over 10 years and never had a problem taking them every day. But I changed jobs and my new insurance hadn’t started yet, so I didn’t want to buy new pills. I wasn’t having sex at that particular moment in time and figured I’d just start them again when my insurance picked back up. Man, was I glad when I didn’t have to take a pill every day! I never thought of it as a problem, but it was nice to not have to take it every day. That’s when I looked into long-acting methods. My BFF had an IUD and loved it, so I explored with my doctor. The insertion process was uncomfortable, but nothing I couldn’t handle (I even went to work afterwards!). I haven’t had any negative side effects and truly love having it.”
“The first IUD I had (Mirena) migrated and had to be removed; the second (Kylena) has stayed put thus far, and I had no pain at insertion. I’m experiencing headaches and have had multiple ovarian cysts since getting it put in, and an increase in cramping and spotting between periods. I’ve had it in for a year now and am not a huge fan, but it beats remembering birth control every day.”
On post-pregnancy contraception:
“Shortly after I had my daughter, I had an IUD placed because I knew I didn’t want to get pregnant again any time soon, and never liked the pill or Nuvaring I’d used in the past. My OB/GYN placed a low-dose hormone IUD. The insertion was a little uncomfortable, but not bad (I’ve heard it’s much worse pre-pregnancy). I had it for almost four years until about three months ago. During that time I had no periods! Mild spotting a couple times a year, but no period. That was amazing for me.
During the time I had it, I had it checked at annual exams (they feel for the strings), and had no issues or side effects. It was also completely covered by my insurance. I had it removed about three months ago because we decided to try for another baby, and shortly after, I had a crazy heavy period and felt a huge hormone swing — like a teenager for a day. I plan on getting another IUD after baby #2 (Side note: the removal was quick and painless).”
On that dreaded insertion:
“I have had mine for four years this September and I honestly love it. I remember it being a sharp pinch when being placed, but the real pain came later. I never had a particularly difficult period, so the cramps I had after the placement were rough! Like, doubled over on the drive home. After that night, though, I’d never experienced issues. My boyfriend has said that he’s felt it before and that a few times in certain positions it’s felt like he’s been poked, which is not comfortable. But all in all, I will get another put in next year when this one reaches the end of its lifecycle.”
“I switched from the Ortho Evra patch to a hormonal IUD in January 2017. Since I’ve never been pregnant and had a small uterine opening, my gyno used an anesthetic and dialated my uterus to properly place the device. It took longer than expected, and I passed out immediately after the insertion. The cramps and bleeding afterward were horrible for months — I almost had it removed. Now, I rarely have a period, and it’s only minor spotting. I completely lost my sex drive.”
“I got my IUD two years ago. I have the Skyla, which is smaller and only lasts three years. When I first got it, it hurt so bad. I had taken an ibuprofen, which helped later on, but I had horrible cramps and random heavy bleeding and spotting for 2-3 months after. They finally subsided and I haven’t had troubles since. I was told it would only hurt for a few weeks, and it lasted months. I loved my decision to get it, and will get a new one next year, but I wish they told me that pain might last longer than expected.”
“I got my IUD placed in June 2017. The insertion was what I imagine childbirth without an epidural feels like (kind of ironic, no?). I handle pain extremely well, but it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. The doctor admitted it was unusually complicated to insert mine, but we got it, and I returned to work still trembling from the pain. The next 12 months were awful. While PMSing, I experienced painful cramping, raging hormonal acne, fatigue, and even mood swings. I got my period every month, but I never knew what to expect — sometimes it was super heavy, just spotting, or nothing at all!”
On an IUD over time:
“Although it hurt to install, I’d recommend it to everyone. Years one and two were awesome — no pain, no period. Year three came around and now my menstrual cramps are unbearable and my period came back. I thought it was because it was wearing off, but my gyno assured me that that wasn’t the case. It’s time to change it out and I’m definitely getting another one. I’m hoping to go back to the pleasant days of years one and two.”
On the IUD vs. The Pill:
“For years, I was taking traditional birth control. I tried around seven different brands of low-hormone pills. Every night, I ended up being so nauseous that I just couldn’t take it anymore. That’s when I started researching IUDs. I have had my IUD for five years and I would never go back to regular birth control. My first IUD lasted for three years, and now I’ve had my second in for two. The implantation was a little painful, but my doctor suggested for me to take two ibuprofen a half hour before I got it, and that helped with the pain. It was more of an uncomfortable feeling, and my body getting used to having something foreign inside it. There was a little bleeding after as well.
For the first six months, I didn’t have a menstrual cycle, and since then, it’s been kind of on-and-off. So, it definitely hasn’t been consistent for me. When I do have it, it’s much lighter than it was before, and I only have it for a couple of days. I did have some pain in the beginning for a couple of months, but my body is so used to it now that I forget that I have it.”
“I switched from the pill to Mirena because of the pure convenience of never having to worry about taking my pill. Getting it put in was very painful, much worse than I expected (I should’ve taken medicine before I went like they advised). I love not having to worry about the pill, especially because I’m sexually active with my significant other. But I do experience bleeding after sex and frequent spotting, even a year and a half after getting it put in. That’s the major con.”
“I love my IUD! I’ve used the pill and Nuvaring in the past, and I don’t know why I waited so long to get the IUD. The only negative was that I had spotting for the first 3-4 months after having it inserted. But after that, my periods got lighter and I had less cramping leading up to my period. I also love it as a back-up form of birth control with condoms. I got Mirena, as suggested by my gynecologist.”
“I love my IUD. I previously was on the pill for years and years; however, I began to have more and more migranes and started to have auras with them, and my nurse practitioner said it wasn’t safe for me to remain on an estrogen-type method because of this. I went with the Mirena IUD and couldn’t be happier with it. I did notice a little bit more acne initially, but it settled out quickly. I love not taking a pill every day, and my migraines almost disappeared after switching. I will say, it was a complete bitch to have put in, but considering I have a very effective birth control method for five years, it was worth it.”
“I decided on the copper IUD, because I was told by my doctors to avoid hormonal birth control methods due to my 2x history with breast cancer, and ovarian cancer running in my family. It’s been three years since, and aside from some random spotting and cramping periodically, in the first six months it’s been amazing. It’s such a relief to focus on my life, career, etc., and not have to worry about an unplanned pregnancy. And while this doesn’t seem to be scientifically proven, my periods got more regular, shorter, and my cramps almost disappeared since being on it (my period was really difficult before this). I would recommend a copper IUD to anyone, especially those unhappy with the side effects of hormonal medications, and girls who dislike or aren’t good at taking the pill every day.”
On your body rejecting an IUD:
“When I had my IUD put in, I had the copper one without hormones, and I was in severe pain for four days. I’m talking crying on the couch, not being able to move, feeling like my uterus was being ripped apart. You have to wait a few weeks and then have it checked, and to no surprise, my body had rejected it (it had moved), and they pulled it out. My insurance wouldn’t cover another until a year later, so I haven’t had one since.”
On nasty side effects:
“I had Mirena for over a year. I had breakthrough bleeding the entire time, no exaggeration. Within weeks of having it put in, I developed horrible cystic acne that never went away until after it was removed. And even a year later after having it removed, my skin hasn’t been able to balance out without the help of the birth control and Spironolactone. I liked the freedom of not having to think about the pill, but that freedom wasn’t worth the havoc that the IUD brought to my skin.”
On recommending it:
“I was on depo for 5+ years, but it started to worry me that I never got a period, and I wanted to be more natural. Now I have a copper IUD and I love it! My periods consistently last four days, with no heavy bleeding and less cramping than I used to have. And it’s virtually 100% effective. I would recommend this as your first choice, even to teens. It’s a much more invasive procedure to get it implanted than to start the pill or depo, but there’s no hormones! That is so huge, I wish I had started this way.”