IUD and periods : what impact does this have on menstrual flow?

While the pill remains the contraceptive method most widely used by women in France, many women opt for the contraceptive IUD. Some women prefer not to have to think about contraception on a daily basis. In all cases, contraception is a personal choice, to be discussed with your healthcare professional, who will be able to give you the best advice.

What is a contraceptive IUD?

It's hard to choose a contraceptive method when you know what relationship contraception and periods can have! The intra-uterine device, or IUD, is a T-shaped contraceptive device measuring around 3.5cm long and 3cm wide. The doctor places it in theuterus. It's a highly effective method offering excellent efficacy, and can be fitted regardless of age or whether you've had children before.

The copper IUD works by preventing spermatozoa from reaching the ovum, acting as a spermicide. It also provokes inflammation in the uterus, preventing the embryo's nidation by thinning the endometrium.

The hormonal IUD works by releasing a small quantity of progestin-only hormones onto the wall of the uterus. The hormones thicken cervical secretions, blocking the passage of sperm. The lifespan of the copper device is 10 years, compared with 5 for the hormone device.

What are the effects of an IUD on periods ?

Whether copper or hormonal, it will tend to modify periods.

The hormonal coil

The hormonal IUD and periods are directly linked by the presence of progesterone in the IUD. In fact, this method often results in less abundantperiods , which may even disappear over time for one in 3 women (amenorrhea). The hormonal method can be a good solution for those suffering from heavy menstrual flow. There may be a risk of uncontrolled bleeding, but this generally only lasts for the first few months.

The copper coil

This is a natural, hormone-free contraceptive. The copper IUD therefore has no impact on periods, enabling women to keep their periods natural.
Unlike hormonal IUDs, copper IUDs are known to cause heavier and longer periods of blood loss. Be careful if you already suffer from heavy or hemorrhagic periods or menstrual pain (e.g. with endometriosis).

Should you choose your IUD based on your periods ?

If you have very heavy or hemorrhagic basal periods , it's best to think carefully before inserting a copper IUD. As for the hormonal IUD, there are no particular contraindications. However, since it is hormone-powered, it can have some of the classic side effects and undesirable side effects lexperienced with hormonal contraception: acne, mood swings, headaches, reduced libido, swollen breasts, etc.

How is an IUD fitted?

Lhe IUD is inserted by a doctor, gynecologist or midwife, after an initial appointment to ensure that there is no risk of uterine fibroids, vaginal infection or pregnancy: in short, that there are no contraindications to IUD insertion. The IUD is inserted at the beginning or end of menstruation. This not only confirms that you are not pregnant, but also makes it easier to implant the device, since at periods, the cervix is open.
Lhe device is inserted using a speculum: it is passed through the vagina and placed in the uterus. Insertion should be painless, and takes just a few minutes. Will you have a protruding thread? Don't worry, IUD wires are used for removal, and can be cut shorter if they get in the way during intercourse.

Does the flow of periods change directly after IUD insertion?

Menstrual periods following IUD insertion are modified. In the case of the hormonal version, menstrual bleeding is reduced, but anarchic bleeding may occur. In the case of copper IUDs, the price to be paid is generally a heavier and longer flow for a few months after insertion, or even longer. We strongly recommend lthe use of a period pants, especially at night, to avoid irritation caused by repeated use of conventional sanitary protection.

Does periods return to normal after IUD removal?

In general, periods eventually stabilizes and returns to as close to normal as possible. However, with the copper IUD, the volume of blood loss remains greater overall. With the hormonal method, periods tends to remain less abundant. Women on hormonal IUDs frequently experience no discharge at all. Of course, every woman is different! You can use periods panties adapted to your current flow to limit your discomfort if necessary.

What are the alternatives to the contraceptive IUD?

There are many different contraceptive methods: the contraceptive pill, implant, patch, male or female condom, diaphragm, vaginal ring, spermicides... All have different degrees of efficacy, advantages and disadvantages on the libido which will be more or less important depending on individual preferences. Your GP or healthcare professional will be able to advise you. Note that the choice of contraception, and the mental burden associated with it, should not be the sole responsibility of a couple! Remember, too, that only condoms protect against STIs and STDs!

FAQs on IUDs and periods

Why insert an IUD during periods ?

Implantation is generally performed during the periods menstrual cycle, when the cervix is opened by the evacuation of the endometrium, making implantation much easier.

What are the disadvantages of IUDs at periods ?

It will generally lead to longer, heavier, more painful periods. Of course, this is not always the case, and not to the same degree for all women.

How can I stop bleeding after inserting an IUD?

Uncontrolled bleeding may occur after fitting a hormonal IUD. SIf it persists after a few months, make an appointment to see your gynecologist: this method of contraception may not be right for you. It's also normal to experience some bleeding in the days following insertion of a copper intrauterine device.

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