What To Consider When Comparing IUDs And Implants For Birth Control?

To protect against a pregnancy, you can use either a hormonal implant or an intrauterine device (IUD). Both these contraception methods are dependable and effective. These are known as LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives). Once you get an implant or IUD, you do not have to worry every day to safeguard yourself from an unwanted pregnancy. This is because, both last for years once they go in. You need a healthcare provider to get an IUD or implant placed or removed.

An IUD and implant are quite effective. They have a success rate of 99% when working correctly. Both these birth control methods do not negatively affect your fertility. After removal of an IUD or implant, you can get pregnant again.

Comparison between an IUD and Implant for Birth Control

  • Types of IUDs: An intrauterine device is a soft and tiny T-shaped device. It is placed in the uterus by a doctor. There are 2 types of IUDs: Hormonal and Copper. The hormonal intrauterine device releases progestin in the body. It protects you against a pregnancy by stopping the ovaries from releasing eggs, making the cervical mucus thick so that the sperm cannot pass through, and preventing a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterus lining.
  • Birth Control Copper IUD: A Copper IUD is harmful to sperm and disables it. The IUD is wrapped in a thin copper wire. It releases copper ions to destroy sperms so that no pregnancy takes place. The device also disallows a fertilized egg from attaching on the uterus lining.
  • Birth Control Implant: A hormonal implant is a size of a matchstick. It is a tiny tube that the doctor puts under the skin of your upper arm. The implant works to protect you against a pregnancy by releasing small amounts of progestin. This makes the cervical mucus too thick for a sperm to pass through. It also restricts a release of egg from the ovaries.

Lasting Duration of an IUD and Implant

Instructions for When to Put and Lasting Duration of an IUD:

  • Depending on the brand, a hormonal intrauterine device lasts up to 3 to 5 years. A Copper IUD on the other hand, can work up to 10 to 12 years.
  • A hormonal IUD can work right away after it is inserted during the initial 7 days of your menstruation. In other cases, it can take up to 7 days for the hormonal IUD to prevent a pregnancy.
  • A Copper IUD has the ability to prevent a pregnancy right after the device is inserted in the uterus.

Instructions for When to Put and Lasting Duration of an Implant:

  • An implant however works for up to 3 years only. It can work to prevent a pregnancy right away if inserted within the initial 5 days of your period.
  • In other cases, you will have to use a backup method like a condom for at least the first 7 days to avoid a pregnancy.

Precautions before Insertion

Below-mentioned are precautions for the insertion of an intrauterine device:

  • Putting an IUD when you have an STD may lead to pelvic inflammatory infection or disease. This is why your doctor will test you for STDs, before placing the IUD. A pregnancy test will also done to ensure you if have not conceived already.
  • The healthcare provider will use a special tool and insert the intrauterine device through the cervix’s opening. The device is then inserted in the uterus. The procedure takes only a few minutes.
  • Initially, you may experience cramps for a few minutes, but it will be alright later. The device comes with attached strings that make it easier for removal later.

Below-mentioned are precautions for the insertion of an implant:

  • The doctor will inject a medicine on the spot where the implant has to be inserted into the arm. This medicine will make the insertion spot numb. This is done, so that the implant can go in without causing you any discomfort.
  • The healthcare provider will use a special tool for the implant placement under the skin. This procedure takes a few minutes only. Also, there are no stitches required.
  • You can feel the implant at the spot with your finger. The doctor wills advice you on how to care for the area where the implant is inserted.

Suggestions for Safe Use

You can safely used implants and IUDs. Both these birth control methods are effective for teenagers and females who have not had a child yet. However, in some cases, both these contraception options are unsafe.

Below-mentioned are the times you must avoid using an intrauterine device:

  • If you want to conceive or are already pregnant
  • You have HIV or AIDS
  • If you get heavy vaginal bleeding when not menstruating
  • If you have uterine or cervical cancer

Below-mentioned are the instances when you must avoid an implant:

  • If you have liver disease
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding when not on periods
  • If you have had breast cancer
  • If you are pregnant

Side Effects of Implants and IUDs

Below-given are the side effects of IUDs:

  • A Copper IUD can cause cramps, heavy bleeding, and bleeding between periods. But this symptom may reduce after a few months.
  • If you have allergy to copper, it is best to choose hormonal IUD instead or some other contraception method.
  • After insertion of a hormonal intrauterine device, your periods can be lighter. The cramps may also hurt less.
  • Some of the IUD side effects are spotting between periods and irregular periods. These eventually may go away in 3 months to 6 months.

Below-given are the side effects of birth control implants:

  • Implants can also make your periods lighter, ease the pain and cramps. It may also make your period go away. You may get spotting in the initial 6 months to 12 months.
  • Common side effects to implants are mood changes, weight gain, and headaches. It is not normal to bleed heavily with an implant.
  • So, when you get your periods, keep a track of how many tampons or pads you have to use. If you suspect heavy bleeding, then contact your doctor immediately.

Problems with IUDs and Implants

It is rare to encounter any problem with an IUD. However, in rare events, the device may breach the uterus wall. If this happens at the time of placement, then the doctor can rectify it then and there. IUD displaces and not fixed soon, then it may harm the nearby organs, and has to be removed anyhow. If you can feel the strings of IUD in your vagina, it could be a sign of IUD displacement. 

Sometimes the IUD may dislodge partially, and perforate the cervix or uterus. It is possible that you may not even feel anything if the device displaces.

Some of the symptoms to note are:

  • Unusual vaginal discharge or odour
  • Inability to feel the IUD in the cervix
  • Inability to feel the IUD strings

Again, in a rare case, you can conceive while still on an intrauterine device. The pregnancy that occurs can be ectopic, where the foetus develops outside the uterus. You cannot continue such a pregnancy, as it is life threatening. Such pregnancy will be eliminated by your doctor. Contact your doctor immediately if you feel cramping or sharp pain at the lower abdomen. The pain can be frequent, lasting for more than a few minutes.

A birth control implant can move inside your arm. This may cause the implant to come out. Such an incidence is more common in the first month of getting it. Start using another contraception method immediately if you notice the implant coming out. Also, see a doctor soon so that the implant can be fixed or a new one can be inserted.

Instructions for Removal

Depending on the type of IUD you have, you need to see your doctor to get it removed. A hormonal IUD lasts for 3 to 5 years, while a Copper one lasts for 10-12 years. If you have an implant, then you need to get it removed after 3 years. Your doctor will take out the implant. If you want to once again use any of these methods, then you can get a new one inserted at your convenience.