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How do I Reduce IUD Side Effects?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are several options to reduce intrauterine device or IUD side effects and these might include carefully pre-screening women to receive this birth control, taking measures right before insertion to reduce discomfort, choosing the right type of IUD, and performing, as necessary, post-insertion interventions. If side effects are significant, the last method of resort is removal of the device.

There are presently two types of IUDs available. The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) contains a small amount of hormones that it releases into the body. The more standard IUD is a copper device that does not release hormones.

The best candidates for IUCDs should meet the following criteria:
Not pregnant
No uterine abnormalities
No strong family history of reproductive tract cancer
No history of pelvic inflammatory disorder (PID), active herpes infection, or any other pelvic infection
No allergies to the device or bleeding disorders.

Additionally, women who have had babies tend to have higher chances of retaining the device. The patients that meet these criteria and are in good health are likely to suffer fewer IUD side effects from an IUCD.

Best candidates for the copper IUD are defined as:
Not pregnant
Having light or regular periods
Possessing a normally shaped uterus
Having no history of PID or other pelvic infections.

For both IUD and IUCD, better candidates are in stable monogamous relationships and unlikely to be at higher risk for contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. IUDs don’t protect against these.

Reasons for following these guidelines become evident when considering a side effect like increased menstrual bleeding after copper IUD insertion. The IUCD may actually decrease heavy periods and could be a better choice, while the copper IUD can make periods heavier and become an unbearable side effect. Also, women who have never been pregnant seem to expel the IUD less often than the IUCD, though women who have been pregnant before are still better candidates for both devices. It is possible for either device to cause PID, and history of this condition rules out IUDs and IUCDs.

Insertion of the device also causes brief IUD side effects. Insertion is best done about four weeks after pregnancy or directly after miscarriage or abortion. Most women don’t get an IUD at these times, and the procedure is brief but painful, associated with cramping and spotting for several days thereafter. To reduce IUD side effects like these, a mild pain reliever can be taken an hour before the procedure, though even with it, there is no guarantee of comfort. Rest and repetition of pain medicine as needed in the next couple of days may assist.

After insertion, women may or may not begin to notice other IUD side effects. Common complaints with IUCDs include in loss of interest in sex and promotingweight gain. These effects may recede with time or they may worsen.

Both IUDs and IUCDs may also evoke complaints of partners, who feel the string of the device hanging into the vagina. One way to address this is to have a doctor cut the string short. By far, the most common complaint about the copper IUD is that it increases menstrual bleeding. Taking iron may reduce risks of developing anemia and bleeding may become more regular as the body adjusts to the device, but some women ultimately choose to have the device removed so they can be free of IUD side effects.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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