How To Choose Between An IUD And Birth Control Pills?

Two of the most common forms of contraception are birth control pills and IUDs (intrauterine devices). You can choose between any of these, but there are a few facts to consider. While contraceptive methods work well for women, you may want to switch between the two or prefer one of the methods over the other. The choice of birth control depends on your lifestyle, health, preference, and recommendation by the doctor.

Let us get a brief on the contraceptives in question:

  • IUDs: Intrauterine devices are a form of long-acting birth control. The doctor places the device in your uterus. It is a quick and painless procedure. The device can be hormonal (containing synthetic hormone – progestin and estrogen) or non-hormonal made from copper.
  • Birth Control Pill: The oral contraceptive pill could be progestin-only or a combination pill with both estrogen and progestin. These sex hormones bring changes in body, stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg. The medication also blocks sperm from entering the uterus by thickening the cervical mucus.

1. Which to Choose for Birth Control – IUD or Pill?

While both the IUD and pill have a high success rate and widely used around the world, it is important to understand how to use these measures effectively and safely. Now, choosing the right form of contraception also depends on several factors. Both the contraception methods prevent unwanted pregnancies, yet they are different from each other.

We will run you through the contraception methods, their effectiveness, and duration of use, risks, and other considerations. One of the best ways to pick a birth control is speaking to a doctor and getting a physical examination before zeroing on an option. In the below-given post we will help you learn which is the best choice – IUD or pill?

Success Rate

The pill is highly effective if you take it correctly as per usage indication. The success rate of oral contraceptives is about 99%. But, the risk to pregnancy increases if the medicine is not taken correctly. 9 in every 100 women on the pill can get pregnant when the medication is taken incorrectly. Thus, it is important to take the tablet as per dosage.

IUDs are also very effective. It can work up to 3-10 years depending on the type of IUD chosen. In fact some intrauterine devices are more effective than pills. The IUD releases progestin to protect from an unplanned pregnancy. The copper IUD, which is hormone-free, has a low failure rate, wherein less than 1 person in every 100 women may get pregnant.

Risks and Side Effects

Birth control pill side effects are

Side effects of the birth control pill include:

  • Breakthrough bleeding
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Bloating
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches

With frequent use, you may not encounter any of the side effects to the pill. But before prescribing a contraceptive medicine, the doctor may assess your risk to heart diseases. This is especially true for women who smoke and are older than 35 years of age. The medication may increase the risk to heart attack and stroke for such females.

  • The medicine may also risk the risk to blood clots and liver tumours (rarely) especially in women who smoke or have diabetes/high blood pressure.
  • It is advisable that if you experience severe side effects to the pill, then to have a word with your doctor. The doctor may suggest another birth control pill with different composition level of hormones.

Intrauterine Devices may cause similar side effects:

  • Irregular bleeding pattern
  • Nausea
  • Backache
  • Cramps
  • Bloating
  • Vagina discharge

IUDs do not usually cause serious side effects or infections. However, for some, in the first few weeks of getting the IUD inserted, there could be a raised risk to pelvic infection. Cases of such a serious effect hardly come up though. It is thus advisable to get regular checkups in the initial duration to note if there are any signs of infection.

  • In very rare occurrence, the IUD may perforate the cervix or uterus. This can cause pain, but no other symptoms will be there. In such a case, the doctor will surgically remove the IUD.
  • The intrauterine device may also slip out of place or removed from the uterus naturally. But this does not happen generally. Such an incident is more common soon after the IUD placement.
  • Do not attempt to put back the IUD in place by your own. It is must to visit a doctor who should be only one to correctly reinsert the device.

2. How Long to Use the Contraception Method?

Here is duration of use for the pill:

  • You may use the 21-day or 28-day pill pack.
  • So, you have to take a pill daily at the same time without fail.
  • If you forget to take the pill, the efficacy of the medication may reduce.
  • You must speak to your doctor as to when to take the next pill in case of a missed dose.

Here is the duration of use for the IUID:

  • In case of an IUD, the doctor inserts it in your uterus. Soon after placement, the device starts the work of safeguarding you against a pregnancy.
  • You do not have to worry to do anything daily or between short intervals to stay protect from an unwanted pregnancy.
  • The IUD can work up to 3 years to 10 years depending on the type of IUD.
  • You should attend regular checkups just to make sure the device is n place and functional.

Things to Keep in Mind

To make a better choice in contraceptives, the doctor will consider your medical history, anatomy, and lifestyle.

When choosing between a birth control pill and IUD, here are the things you must consider:

  • Your doctor may advice you against the contraceptive pill if you use tobacco frequently. This is because the pill combined with regular use of tobacco can give rise to vascular diseases.
  • If you are more than 35 years old, you may want to choose IUD, as the pill runs a higher health risk after this age. The medicine may run a risk of blood clots at the later stage of life if you suffer from certain health conditions.
  • If you have irregular uterine cavities or uterine fibroid, then instead of IUD, you should choose birth control pills.
  • If you are sensitive to hormones in the medication, then non-hormonal methods of birth control such as the copper IUD will benefit you greatly.
  • Copper IUD is a no if you have allergy to copper.
  • You must not use an IUD if you have acute liver disease, genital tract infection, or pelvic inflammatory disease.

  3. How to Switch Between an IUD and Birth Control Pill?

To stay protected from an unwanted pregnancy, you must not leave a gap between switching from a type of birth control method to another. This will help reduce the risk of getting pregnant.

  • So, if you want to switch from an IUD to birth control pill, then start with the pills 7 days before IUD removal.
  • On the other hand, if you switch from oral contraceptives to a hormonal IUD, then meet the doctor to fix an appointment for IUD placement.
  • The IUD should be inserted by the doctor at least 7 days before the final dose of pill.

If you want to switch to a copper intrauterine device, then the doctor can place the IUD up to 5 days after the final dose of the pill without worrying about gap in between. Your doctor will ask you to use a backup contraceptive if there is a chance of overlapping with a previous contraceptive. The doctor will let you know for how many days you have to continue with the backup method until the IUD takes effect.

Final Words

Choosing between an IUD and birth control pill is not just about your personal choice, but also your health condition and past medical history. Sometimes the medical history of your family too can be taken into consideration before determining the suitable contraception method. Remember, whichever birth control measure you select, you need to follow the usage indication correctly for best results.