IUD vs. Birth Control Pills

In the modern world, there is a great choice of everything, including family planning methods. Moreover, each manufacturer praises its own means for preventing pregnancy, usually emphasizing only the advantages and keeping silent about the disadvantages.

It is rather difficult to figure out among various birth control options and such a flow of diverse and sometimes contradictory information. However, in this article, we will try to objectively highlight all the pros and cons of one of the most popular contraceptive methods – IUDs and pills.

Intrauterine devices: advantages and disadvantages of IUD form of birth control

Intrauterine contraception can be:

  • hormonal IUD (with hormone progestin)
  • non-hormonal IUD (copper IUD)

Mechanisms of action

  • the spiral thickens cervical mucus, making it thicker, which makes it difficult for the sperm to move into the uterus;
  • affects the sperm entry, reducing their motility;
  • enhances the peristalsis of the fallopian tubes (i.e., accelerates the movement of the egg through the tubes), and with accelerated advancement, the egg enters the uterus without having time to mature. An immature egg is not able to implant (integrate) into the uterus;
  • if fertilization does occur, it prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the walls of the uterus.

The latter property allows the use of an intrauterine device as a means of emergency contraception, which is much safer for the body than the use of special emergency contraceptive pills containing large doses of hormones.

Advantages of IUD birth control methods

  • High degree of protection above 95%
  • long service life from 3 to 10 years depending on the composition of the spiral
  • the onset of pregnancy is possible immediately after the IUD removal
  • does not affect the hormonal background of a woman (there are no problems such as decreased libido, menstrual irregularities, amenorrhea, breast tenderness, mood swings, depression, headache, nausea, inherent in hormonal drugs)
  • Suitable during lactation (breastfeeding mothers)
  • Instant efficiency (starts working immediately after injection)
  • Suitable for women with certain diseases when hormonal contraceptives are contraindicated

Disadvantages of non- and hormonal IUDs

  • Insertion and extraction is possible only by a gynecologist
  • It is necessary to check for the presence of spiral threads in the vagina after each menstruation in order to notice the spontaneous loss of the spiral in time (this happens quite rarely)
  • More abundant and prolonged vaginal discharge, irregular periods in the first few months after the installation of the IUD
  • Possible development of endometriosis of the pelvic organs (rare)
  • Possible development of ectopic pregnancy
  • Increased risk of developing inflammatory diseases of the uterus and appendages
  • Does not protect from sexually transmitted disease
  • Might not work correctly in patients with irregular uterine cavities
  • IUD installation is not recommended for nulliparous women.

Contraindications for the installation of the IUD to prevent pregnancy

  • gestation
  • inflammatory diseases of the pelvic organs
  • malignant formations in the cervix or the body of the uterus
  • bleeding of unknown etiology (cause of occurrence has not been established)
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • deformation of the uterine cavity for various reasons

Birth control pills: advantages and disadvantages

Pills (oral contraceptives) are the most common birth control method of hormonal contraception.

Pills use a synthetic form of hormones similar in effect to those produced by the body itself. The composition of contraceptive pills includes the hormone progestogen, which provides protection against gestation.

According to their composition, pills are divided into:

  • gestagenic (contain only the hormone progestogen)
  • combination birth control pills (contain two hormones: gestagen and estrogen (needed to control the menstrual cycle))

Most birth control pills principles of work

  • suppress or inhibit ovulation
  • affect the composition of the cervical mucus of the cervix, making it more viscous and thick, which prevents the passage of sperm into the uterus
  • affects the endometrium (mucous membrane) of the uterus so that the fertilized egg cannot be fixed in it
  • gestagenic tablets additionally reduce the mobility of the fallopian tubes, which slows down the movement of the egg through them and, as a result, the likelihood that the sperm has time to fertilize decreases

Benefits of the oral contraceptive pill

  • High degree of protection up to 99% when used correctly
  • The possibility of getting pregnant in the next cycle after the abolition of pills. However, it is recommended to wait 3 months before getting pregnant
  • Possible use by nulliparous women
  • Can be used to treat hormonal imbalances and certain gynecological conditions

Disadvantages of birth control pills

  • mood swings
  • nausea, sometimes vomiting
  • tenderness of breast
  • weight gain (can be caused by fluid retention or changes in carbohydrate-fat metabolism)
  • decreased libido
  • increased acne (quite rare)
  • increased excretion of trace elements from the body. With a lack of trace elements in the body, serious diseases can occur. When taking a birth control pill, it is important to take vitamin complexes.
  • impairment of glucose uptake (rare)
  • headaches
  • spotting (especially typical for contraceptives with one hormone progestogen)
  • the hormone estrogen in the combined contraceptive pills increases blood clotting (hypercoagulation), which leads to unpleasant consequences: the risk of thrombophlebitis, heart attack, stroke increases, existing cardiovascular problems are aggravated
  • the need to take pills at the same time according to a strictly established scheme, otherwise the risk of getting pregnant increases dramatically
  • in order to avoid negative consequences, the gynecologist should prescribe contraceptive pills after all the necessary research has been carried outю

Depending on the type of gestagen (about a dozen different gestagens are used in pharmaceuticals) and on the presence or absence of estrogens (ethinyl estradiol is usually used) in the composition of contraceptives, various side effects can be observed. A list of all side effects is indicated in the instructions for the tablets.

Contraindications to the use of birth control pills

  • pregnancy
  • the presence of malignant tumors
  • thrombosis or thromboembolism the occurrence of blood clots in the vessels
  • suffered heart attacks, strokes
  • high blood pressure
  • bleeding disorders
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • diabetes
  • liver disease
  • smoking
  • postpartum period less than 6 months

To Sum Up

The use of contraceptive pills requires increased responsibility and self-organization because the effectiveness of this method depends on the frequency of administration.

The contraceptive effect does not occur immediately, but within a week after the start of admission.

A combination pill affects hormonal levels, which leads to both unpleasant and dangerous side effects. However, they can be used in the treatment of certain gynecological diseases.

IUDs do not affect the hormonal background of a woman. Their contraceptive effect is based on the physical properties of the components and manifests itself immediately after installation.

Spontaneous spiral loss is possible. Therefore it is necessary to check for the presence of spiral threads in the vagina. It is also quite common to observe heavier periods in the first months after the IUD insertion. In addition, IUDs increase the risk of developing inflammatory processes.

Both methods of contraception are highly effective.

The installation and removal of the IUD are carried out by a gynecologist. After a while, a second examination is required, and, if nothing bothers, further observation by a gynecologist is not necessary.

The selection and appointment of contraceptive pills should be carried out only by a gynecologist. The wrong pills can lead to serious side effects. It is advisable to constantly monitor the state of the body in order to timely identify the lack of trace elements or the development of concomitant diseases and correct their negative manifestations.

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