IUD Vs Implant For Birth Control: Everything You Need To Know

iud vs implant

IUD vs Implant – both birth control options are very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy. In this article, we discuss both of them in detail.


Birth Control is a common choice amongst women who do not want to get pregnant and go through the burden of having a child. At the same time, wanting to exploit the sexual pleasures of life by indulging in sexual activity. There are dozens of birth control options under various consumption methods such as pills, shots, injections, condoms, spermicides, vaginal rings, hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs, and implants.

The motive of each of these birth control solutions is exactly the same. Ensuring that a woman can have unprotected sex and yet not get pregnant. Each method has its own dosage, advantages, disadvantages, etc.

IUD Vs Implant

We are going to speak about IUDs and implants. IUDs are tiny T-shaped devices, about an inch long, and are strings that are placed on the uterus, through the cervical tract. These strings release hormones (if it is non-hormonal, then the strings release copper ions) that tackle down the sperms and make them inactive.

Whether the string is releasing hormones or copper ions, the cervical mucus begins to thicken and the sperms have no way to force themselves through the path.

Whereas, an implant, usually one called Nexplanon, is the size of a matchstick and is placed beneath the skin of an underarm. This leads to the release of hormones inside the body, especially the bloodstream. This release of progesterone protects a female from getting pregnant. Keep reading for a more systematic description of the two birth control solutions.

1. Duration Of Protection

Nexplanon, once inserted beneath the underarm, can protect a woman from pregnancy for a period of 3 years. This is because the matchstick-sized implant regularly releases a small amount of progestin that leads to an increase in the uterus lining and a reduction in abnormal growth of tissues. Nexplanon has 68 mg of etonogestrel (kind of progestin) and is released slowly over a period of 3 years.

Hormonal IUDs can portray protective effects against pregnancy for 3 to 5 years, depending on the type of hormonal IUD that has been consumed- Skyla, Mirena, Liletta and Kyleena. Mirena has about 52 mg of Levonorgestrel that is released slowly for up to half a decade.

Non-hormonal IUDs such as Copper IUDs also known as Paragard will protect a woman from pregnancy for a period of 10 to 12 years. The occurrence of periods can completely stop after a year of IUD insertion.

2. Insertion Process

Before the implantation of Nexplanon, the doctor will inject you with a medication to numb the implant location. A small drilling machine device will contain the Nexplanon implant and will be implanted under the skin. The device is so small, that there is no need for stitches to be given.

IUDs, whether hormonal or non-hormonal, will be carefully inserted by a medical professional through the opening of the cervix via the entire cervical tract, all the way to the uterus. It is a T-shaped device that has typically one-inch long strings. These strings prove helpful when the doctor needs to remove the IUD. Also, some cramps may exist for about an hour, so do not get worried. 

3. Side Effects

There are some side effects that come with all kinds of birth control, be it pills, shots, or IUDs. They are nausea, headache, backache, cramps, irregularities in periods, frequent alterations in mood, and weight gain.

Speaking of only Nexplanon implants, expect to have lighter periods than usual. There will be a sensation of cramps, but much lesser than what IUDs can contribute too. Spotting can occur during menstrual cycles too. Although, these side effects will normalize within 6 months.

Hormonal IUDs contribute to greater cramps for up to a few months post-installation. But non-hormonal IUDs can be a pain in the body, yes literally. The inculcation of Copper IUDs will inevitably lead to heavier periods for about 6 months to 1-year post-installation. Expect to secrete 30 percent more blood than you did before you got the Copper IUD installed.

4. Working Of Nexplanon

The older version of this matchstick-sized implant was called Implanon. Once inserted beneath the arm, it begins to secrete the magic ingredient that contributes to putting a stop to the probability of becoming pregnant after unprotected sex. This magic ingredient is known as Progestin and directly mixes with the bloodstream, sending signals to the brain indicating that it too has entered the field. It functions by thickening the slimy mucus that lingers within the cervical tract.

This expansion of mucus makes it impossible for the sperm to wriggle its way to the egg. Apart from tackling the lower end of the vagina, Progestin also imparts effects on the higher end of the vaginal tract, the ovaries. It restricts the eggs from leaving the site of the ovaries and puts a stop to ovulation. When eggs cannot be released, they can neither be fertilized, thus a female cannot get pregnant.

5. Working Of IUDs

Hormonal IUDs are T-shaped, this tiny device secretes progestin constantly every day, for a period of 3 to 5 years. They come under the category known as LARC (Long Acting Reversible Control). This hormone not only provides enough fuel to make the cervical mucus thicker, but it also helps in thinning the uterus lining. This makes it rather impossible for sperm to travel through the fallopian tubes and the ovaries. 

Non-hormonal IUDs such as Copper IUDs release tremendous amounts of copper ions. These ions work in unison and create a hostile atmosphere for the sperms. The sperms consider these copper ions as toxic and land up dying. These ions lead to the production of fluid in the fallopian tubes and uterus, that contains WBCs (white blood cells), enzymes, and prostaglandins – all working towards killing the sperms that have entered the vagina. The fact that copper IUDs have literally immediate effects on women, has given it a rightful tag of being an ‘Emergency Contraceptive Solution’.

IUD Vs Implant: Conclusion

If you are stuck in deciding the perfect birth control solution. Then you must think of the main reason for your birth control. How often will you have sex? Do you plan to get married? Are you comfortable consuming pills on a daily basis? Is it okay for you to get a foreign device installed inside your genitals?. Once you have answers to such long-term focused questions, then expect it to be much easier to boil down to one choice. However, both options are undoubtedly better than birth control pills.

This is because once you stop taking birth control pills (which you would be consuming every day for God knows how long), the body begins to return to its original state. This takes a toll as the body has to readjust to many parameters, causing a great number of side effects in the process. Getting pregnant can be a complicated affair after such methods of contraception. If you opt for implants or IUDs, post-removal of these devices, fertility retains back to its normal state almost immediately.