IUD Pros and Cons

by Samuel Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D. Health Professional

When a woman chooses not to become pregnant, she has many options from which to choose. Usually, picking the right one requires weighing the pros and cons of the different option. In this article, we will review the pros as cons of the intrauterine device (IUD) as a form of birth control. To help organize the pros and cons, we will group them all by category.

Reversiblro: The IUD is reversible which means that if a woman decides that she would like to become pregnant, the IUD can be removed and fertility returns quickly.

Con: For someone desiring permanent contraception (i.e. sterilization) the IUD will require replacement every 5 or 10 years (depending on the form of IUD). Tubal occlusion and male vasectomy are both non-reversible and highly effective.

Intrauterinro: The IUD is a device that rests inside your uterus. So, there are no pills to remember to take, condoms to use (at least for birth control) or diaphragm to place.

Con: Some women don't like the idea of a plastic device inside them and find it unnatural. Some women also experience discomfort from the IUD.

Cosro: Not only is an IUD is far less expensive then an unplanned pregnancy, it even less expensive then birth control pills (assuming you keep would keep the IUD in for at least 3 years).

Con: If you just need birth control for a short period of time (such as 1 year), other forms of birth control may be less expensive. Even for longer term use, the initial purchase of an IUD can be prohibitively expensive for some.

Religious acceptabilitro: Some religions prohibit the use of a barrier method of contraception such as a condom. For those groups, an IUD may be a permissible form of birth control. For religious groups who view the IUD string (that sits in the vagina) as a form of a barrier, some doctors are willing to place the string inside the uterus.

Con: Some religions prohibit any form of contraceptive and the IUD would still be unacceptable.

Non-hormonaros: Some women cannot tolerate the side effects of hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills. For them, the copper IUD (or even the hormonal IUD) is often a welcome relief.

Cons: The hormonal action of some birth control pills can have very desirable benefits such as minimizing pain from endometriosis and reducing acne. The IUD may not provide these same benefits

STD preventioros: The IUD does not protect against STD's. However, there is not limitation on using condoms in addition to the IUD. This will combination is much more effective at prevent pregnancy then condoms alone but the condoms will provide improved STD protection.

Cons: Women with an IUD may feel less compelled to use a condom since they already have contraceptive protection and therefore may be less likely to use a condom (which would put them at increased risk for acquiring an STD). However, using a condom and IUD will optimize the contraceptive and STD-protection.

Effectivenesros: The IUD is highly effective and there are very few forms of birth control that are more effective.

Cons: Vasectomy (male sterilization) and tubal occlusion (female sterilization) are more effective.

Onset of actioros: The IUD is effectively immediately at preventing pregnancy and, in fact, can be given up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy.

Cons: The IUD cannot be inserted in someone who is already pregnant.

For more information, be sure to check out:

Types of Emergency Contraception

What You Can Expect After Taking the Morning After Pill

Emergency Contraception: How Much Do You Know About the Morning After Pill?

The Morning After Pill

Understanding the Risks of an IUD

Samuel Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Samuel Zev Williams, M.D., Ph.D.

Samuel Zev Williams is a nationally-recognized clinician and researcher in the area of recurrent pregnancy loss and infertility. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Sexual Health.