If you’ve ever had a conversation with your doctor about birth control to prevent conception (versus manage the symptoms of a fertility health issue), you are likely to have heard of the option called an IUD, or intrauterine device. For women who don’t want to get pregnant now but may wish to conceive later and to try preserve their fertility health, one of the most popular birth control choices is the IUD.
IUD Choices Today
An IUD is a T-shaped device inserted into the uterus through the cervix during a routine outpatient procedure that provides long term birth control. Yet, it’s one of the few long-term contraception methods that’s reversible.
Women may choose the IUD because it’s more convenient than taking contraceptive pills daily. Both types of IUDs have good success rates for contraception and a return of healthy fertility within 3 months after removal.
The two types of IUDs widely used:
1. Levonorgestrel (hormone based) IUD- Hormone-based IUDs use a lower dose of hormones than the pill, so there may be fewer side effects for some women. Progestin hormones (synthetic progesterone) in Levonorgestrel IUDs prevent pregnancy in two ways, by:
- thickening cervical mucus to block sperm
- prevent ovulation, so there is no egg for sperm to fertilize
Some women with hormone-based IUDs experience less cramping and bleeding with their menstrual cycles than women who use birth control pills, however, not all women experience this. Some find their periods are worsened, are heavier or are extremely irregular.
Hormone-based IUDs last up to 6 years and are a choice for women who want to start or grow their families at some other point in their lives.
2. Copper IUD- The copper IUD is a non-hormonal, long-term contraceptive. Copper IUDs are wrapped in a small amount of copper that works by altering the uterine environment to be hostile to sperm. Copper IUDS can even be used as emergency contraception up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse. Copper IUDs are a popular choice for women of reproductive age since they can be effective for up to 12 years.
Be aware, the Copper IUD can make your period heavier for a period of time and shouldn’t be used if the woman is allergic to copper or if she has Wilson’s disease (an illness which causes the body to hold too much copper).
Both types of IUDs have good success rates for contraception and fertility within 3 months after removal. Results of one 2015 pilot study led by Amy M. Stoddard, MD of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of California, included 111 women, 69 former IUD users and 42 non-IUD users and concluded, “We found no difference in 12-month pregnancy rates or time to pregnancy between former IUD users and users of other contraceptive methods. However, there was a clinically and statistically significant reduction in fertility in African American women.” Still, there can be side effects and possible complications to be aware of.
Risks of IUD Use:
While the IUD is safe for the majority of women who use it, there can be side effects and possible complications to be aware of:
- increased risk for ovarian cysts, uterine infections which can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy (rare)
- risk of the body forcing out the device, particularly for women who’ve previously experienced this (Human Reproduction)
- (although rare) risk of punctures in the wall of the uterus that may lead to scar tissue formation
- having an IUD can affect the menstrual cycle (causing irregular bleeding or spotting) and normal cervical mucus production
An IUD is held in place by the cervix. However, if a woman has fibroids or an unusually shaped uterus, it can fall out during the menstrual cycle or even move to a different part of the reproductive system.
IUDs don’t protect against STDs/STIs (sexually transmitted disease or infection), according to Planned Parenthood. Further IUDs should definitely be avoided if you have a STD or recent pelvic infection. Further, it’s important for women with IUDs to have them routinely checked to make sure they remain in place.
Top Ways to Promote A Return To Fertility After IUD Removal
Most women go on to have successful pregnancies within a year after IUD removal. Regardless, it’s a good idea to support the body as you transition off of an IUD. Natural therapies rebalance the menstrual cycle and promote a healthy uterine environment and normal cervical mucus production. Here are fertility enhancing therapies to consider after IUD removal:
- A Fertility Cleanse. Fertility Cleansing detoxifies the liver, which is in charge of hormone and toxin metabolism. It aids the uterus in its ability to cleanse out old blood during menstruation, and supports normal circulation to the reproductive system. A Fertility Cleanse can help your body normalize because the IUD affects the uterine environment and cervical mucus.
- Learn to chart your cycle. Charting your cycle can help you determine your fertile window (the days each month you can conceive naturally) and see if the phases of your menstrual cycle are becoming balanced. It’s a good idea to wait until you have had 1-2 complete cycles after the IUD removal before charting or trying to conceive.
- Use Herbs To Promote Hormonal Balance
If you’re experiencing an irregular menstrual cycle after IUD removal, consider herbs or an herbal formula designed to restore hormonal balance.
– Fem Rebalance. Fem Rebalance helps the body to “reset” after coming off of hormonal contraception. Note: This blend is not recommended for use during fertility cleansing. Try Fem Rebalance after you’ve finished your cleanse.
– Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris). Tribulus is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for reproductive health for hundreds of years. Ovulation is disrupted by hormone-based IUDs, and some woman need libido support after removal. Tribulus provides gentle, safe support for normal monthly ovulation and libido.
- Evening Primrose Oil. After IUD removal, a woman may experience a decrease in healthy cervical mucus. Cervical mucus is thickened by the IUD, and it can take a few weeks or more for the body to adjust to the change. Evening Primrose Oil is a rich source of Linoleic Acid (LA) and Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which increases cervical mucus production. General suggested use: 1500 – 3000 mg 1-2 times daily from day 1 – 14 in the cycle when actively trying to conceive; or all month long when not trying to conceive.
- Self Fertility Massage. Applying Self Fertility Massage is a low cost, effective way to boost your fertility naturally after IUD removal. Self Fertility Massage helps bring fresh blood to the uterus, break up scar tissue and improve endocrine system communication. It’s a great way to prompt the liver to get rid of waste products and excess hormones that may have accumulated while using hormonal birth control.
What I want you to take away…
Natural therapies encourage a return to healthy fertility after IUD removal. Follow a fertility diet and consider gentle herbs to normalize and balance your body in preparation for a future pregnancy. If you’ve experienced complications from the IUD, seek professional guidance for the best natural approaches to restore fertility health. Systemic enzymes can also be helpful to minimize scar tissue and support a healthy immune response after IUD removal.
If you’ve landed on this article and you are considering a birth control method for contraception, but have yet to choose, our guides that follow may help you choose:
Making The Right Birth Control Choice After Giving Birth
Top 5 Ways the Birth Control Pill Negatively Impacts Long-Term Fertility
Too learn more about related subjects covered in this article, please visit the following link: How to Balance Your Hormones After Birth Control
- Birth Control Health Center: The IUD Intrauterine Device (2005-2016). Web MD. Retrieved from:
- Thonneau, P., Almont, T., de La Rochebrochard, E. and Maria, B. 1 (October 2006) Risk factors for IUD failure: results of a large multicentre case–control study. Human Reproduction, Volume 21, Issue 10, Pages 2612–2616. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/del208
- Stoddard, A. M., Xu, H., Madden, T., Allsworth, J. E., & Peipert, J. F. (2015). Fertility after intrauterine device removal: a pilot study. The European journal of contraception & reproductive health care : the official journal of the European Society of Contraception, 20(3), 223-30. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4536198/
- IUD (2016) Planned Parenthood. Retrieved from: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud
- Barton, D., (2016) Enhance Overall Fertility with Evening Primrose. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-evening-primrose-oil.html
- Rodriguez, H., (2016) Prepare for Conception with a Fertility Cleanse. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/prepare-for-conception