IUD stands for “intra-uterine device.” It’s a tiny, flexible, T-shaped piece that contains synthetic hormones and is inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Devices vary, but about 3-5 years of pregnancy prevention seems the common theme among IUD’s.
Examples of Hormonal IUD: Mirena, Skyla, Kyleena, and Liletta. Mirena contains 20 mcg of levonorgestrel. Skyla contains 13.5 mg, Kyleena 19.5 mg, Liletta 52mg.
Hormonal IUD’s are a progestin-only type of birth control. Worth mentioning that while progestins are meant to mimic progesterone in the body, they are actually more chemically similar to testosterone than progesterone, and thus “progesterone” and “progestin” cannot be used interchangeably.
Due to their chemical structure and similarity to testosterone, progestins in hormonal IUD may elicit androgenic effects in the body. So we may see an increased risk for blood sugar dysregulation, blood clots, acne, hair loss, hirsutism (dark inappropriate hairs), anxiety, depression, mood disorders, weight gain around the middle, and higher incidence of various cancers.
Progesterone is made by the body after ovulation each month and is great for heart health, sleep, hair, and skin. It minimizes symptoms of PMS and helps keep periods in check from being too heavy, crampy, or uncomfortable. Progesterone boosts thyroid function, keeps energy high, boosts metabolism, stabilizes mood, and helps prevent certain cancers (such as breast cancer).
Progesterone is also a natural diuretic, boosts libido, and is crucial to a healthy pregnancy (low progesterone levels are a common cause of miscarriages). The only way to produce progesterone each month is via ovulation mid-cycle.
Hormonal IUD’s don’t block ovulation ALL the time, but do block ovulation some of the time. Worth mentioning that with most other hormonal birth control methods like the pill, we do not ovulate. Which may explain why some women feel better on IUD than other hormonal birth control options, since since they are occasionally ovulating.
If suffering with heavy bleeding or Endometriosis – and changes to nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and environment have not helped – Mirena IUD may be a great option to ask your doctor about as it may decrease menstrual flow and discomfort.
Worth mentioning that yeast infections may be an issue as Candida (aka yeast) seem to gravitate to the IUD’s. Biofilms occur when microorganisms attach to surfaces and develop little safety cocoons/bacterial plagues in the body to protect themselves. Studies show candida may happen at higher incidences in the vagina with inter-uterine devices (PMID 18402852, 22090300, 3382616).
Also worth mentioning that studies are starting to pop up eluding that effects of the IUD may actually be systemic (aka “whole body”), rather than localized (PMID 28315609). We look forward to continued research on this topic.
Inter-uterine devices may also increase risk for ovarian cysts. The website for Kyleena stated that “22/100 women using Kyleena developed a cyst on the ovary”
Keep in mind that IUD’s may move, shift, or perforate the uterus. Expulsion may occur as well.
Bleeding and spotting may increase in the first 3 to 6 months of having most IUD’s, or bleeding may remain irregular. Periods over time may become shorter, lighter, or may stop occurring all together. Worth mentioning that our menstrual cycle is considered a vital sign that can tell us a lot about our underlying health and how our body is responding to our nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, and environmental exposures.
Keep in mind that IUD users are at a higher risk or ectopic pregnancies, or pregnancies that do occur not in the uterus. Unusual vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain may be a sign of ectopic pregnancy. Seem medical attention immediately if you believe you are pregnant and have an IUD as pregnancy with an IUD can be life threatening.
Important to discuss all options of hormonal birth control with your doctor to find what’s best for YOU and your lifestyle.
Remember that symptoms (like acne, PMS, heavy or painful periods, etc) can be signs of hormonal imbalance and that while hormonal birth control may temporarily relieve these symptoms, it doesn’t truly address the root cause of why we’re struggling with those symptoms in the first place. Consider reading Lara Briden’s Period Repair Manual, Sara Gottfried’s Hormone Cure, or Jolene Brighten’s Beyond the Pill for ideas on how to work with your doctor to address root cause.
“About | Kyleena IUD.” Kyleena US, www.kyleena-us.com/what-is-kyleena/about-kyleena/.
Aleknaviciute, Jurate, et al. “The Levonorgestrel-Releasing Intrauterine Device Potentiates Stress Reactivity.” Psychoneuroendocrinology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28315609.
Chassot, Francieli, et al. “Can Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices Be a Candida Albicans Reservoir?” Contraception, U.S. National Library of Medicine, May 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18402852.
Calışkan, Seyda, et al. “In vitro biofilm formation and relationship with antifungal resistance of Candida spp. isolated from vaginal and intrauterine device string samples of women with vaginal complaints.” Mikrobiyoloji Bulteni, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22090300.
“Mirena IUD Homepage | Official Website.” Mirena US, www.mirena-us.com/.
Parewijck, W, et al. “Candidiasis in Women Fitted with an Intrauterine Contraceptive Device.” British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1988, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3382616.
“Skyla IUD Official Website.” Skyla US, www.skyla-us.com/index.php/.