iud and pcos

What You Need to Know About the IUD and PCOS

iud and pcos
by Tallene Posted April 29, 2024

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition that can impact a woman’s reproductive system in a big way. Women with PCOS often deal with infertility, irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovaries, and sex hormone imbalances that contribute to a lot of chronic common symptoms. 

Since PCOS symptoms can often be rooted to sex hormone levels, often Cysters get put on hormonal birth control pills to “manage” their PCOS challenges. However, hormonal birth control doesn’t get to the core of the problem, and symptoms usually return when you get off the pill. In many cases, hormonal birth control pills even worsen PCOS symptoms long-term! (There is even some question if birth control pills can cause PCOS.)

So, if you talk to a doctor and decide hormonal birth control pills aren’t right for you, what do you do if you need contraception? Natural family planning and condoms don’t work for everyone, especially since the effectiveness of those methods aren’t as fool proof as the pill. In recent years, IUDs have become a popular alternative to the pill, but is it right for PCOS? That’s what we’re going to get into today! 

what you need to know about the iud & pcos

What You Need to Know About the IUD and PCOS

There are lots of reasons people avoid hormonal birth control pills, but one of the biggest concerns is the pill’s long list of side effects. And, many of these side effects correlate directly to PCOS symptoms, meaning hormonal birth control could make your PCOS challenges even harder. Hormonal birth control can cause high blood pressure, nausea, weight gain, hair loss, acne, mood swings, blood clots, and sexual dysfunction. 

As the pill has been decreasing in popularity, more and more women are choosing IUDs! This has prompted lots of Cysters to look at alternative birth control forms too in order to understand if IUDs would be helpful or hurtful for their polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It’s really smart to look into these alternative contraception methods, because they can be much better for your unique body! 

What is an IUD?

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small T-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus as birth control. It’s a long-lasting birth control that can be reversed when needed. Usually, these IUDs can stay inserted and prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years. Women do report pelvic pain upon insertion, so make sure you talk to your doctor about pain management before booking your placement. Once inserted, the IUD is 99% effective.

does iud help with pcos

Does IUD Help with PCOS?

If heavy, painful, and irregular periods are a real struggle for you, the IUD could help get your periods on a regular schedule, reduce cramping and PMS symptoms, and lighten your period flow. In some cases, an IUD may even stop your periods altogether. If you do choose to have an IUD or go on birth control, I always recommend making diet and lifestyle changes in the meantime. That way, when you decide to get off of birth control, your PCOS symptoms don’t come back with a vengeance.

Hormonal birth control pills have both estrogen and progestin, and for estrogen-dominant Cysters this can be problematic for your symptoms, and raise your blood pressure and blood sugar. If you’re struggling with weight gain, cravings, fatigue, and other symptoms of insulin resistance, increasing your blood pressure and sugar is a bad idea. Not only can this impact how you feel and look, but sustained high blood pressure and blood sugar can actually increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, a common long-term complication of untreated PCOS

There are non-hormonal IUD options and the ones that are hormonal use only progestin—no estrogen. This prevents pregnancy, regulates periods, doesn’t increase blood pressure, and relieves some PCOS symptoms like hair loss, weight gain, and insulin sensitivity. If you do decide to go on a contraceptive, IUDs could be a better choice than birth control! 

Learn more about the best types of birth control with PCOS here!

Does the IUD Treat PCOS?

No birth control (or prescription of any kind) gets to the root of your PCOS symptoms. When you get off the contraceptive, you’ll likely experience all those issues again. That’s why it’s best to work towards natural PCOS healing by changing your diet, exercise routine, sleeping habits, supplement intake, and more. Download The Cysterhood app for all the best resources to take control of your PCOS and live symptom-free!

best iud for pcos

Best IUD for PCOS 

Hormonal IUDs

There are progestin-only hormonal IUDs like Mirena, Kyleene, Liletta, or Skyla. They last anywhere from 3-8 years and work by thinning the uterine lining and thickening cervical mucus to make it nearly impossible for conception to happen. For some people, hormonal IUDs even stops ovulation all together. It’s a contraceptive and it can help temporarily relieve some symptoms of PCOS like irregular periods, heavy flow, cramping, PMS, hair loss, weight gain, and insulin resistance. 

What about the Copper IUD?

There are two types of IUDs. The first one I’ll talk about is the copper IUD from Paragard. This is a non-hormonal option that can remain effective for up to 12 years! The copper in the IUD prevents pregnancy in two ways. First, it creates an inflammatory reaction in the uterine cavity that’s actually toxic to sperm and eggs. Second, the copper ions change the composition of the fluid in the fallopian tubes and uterus, preventing the sperm from swimming to the egg. 

These are often less favorable options for women with PCOS, because without the hormonal component, Cysters may not see change in their symptoms. Plus, it doesn’t have the period-regulation of hormonal IUDs. In fact, copper IUDs can worsen cramps, regularity, and flow. So, I’d steer clear of the copper IUD. Consult your doctor to see what the best choice is for you.

IUDs can be a great choice for PCOS contraception! 

If you’re a Cyster in need of birth control, an IUD could be a good choice. Of course, talk to your doctor about your specific medical history to make the right decision for you. Just remember hormonal birth control is a temporary bandaid for our symptoms and it isn’t a cure for PCOS, but you can reverse your PCOS and heal your symptoms naturally! You can get all the details on the blog, on the app, and on the podcast

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2 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About the IUD and PCOS”

  1. Brooke Elenbaas

    Great topic & information! I’d love to see a podcast specifically talking more in-depth about the pros vs. cons of the copper IUD for women with PCOS. Thank for all the work you are doing this has helped me more than you know!

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