The intrauterine device (IUD) is a birth control method that’s increasingly becoming more popular among women.
With more women trying it out, some IUD users can’t help but ask: “Does an IUD affect future fertility?”
Fortunately, in most cases, as several studies have shown, the IUD does not affect women’s future fertility.
However, there are other factors that can affect how soon you can get pregnant following IUD removal.
Read on to learn more about how this medical device works, what you can expect after its removal, and the side effects to this contraceptive method that you should watch out for.
How Does an IUD Work?
The IUD is a small, T-shaped device that only a doctor or nurse can insert into a woman’s uterus.
Along with the birth control implant, IUDs are also known as long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), which means that they are contraception methods that remain effective in preventing pregnancy for a longer period of time even without user compliance.
Basically, once it’s in, you don’t have to worry as much compared to when you were still forgetting to take a single pill.
There are two types of IUDs: the hormonal IUD and the copper IUD. And they work differently in helping women prevent pregnancy.
The hormonal IUD uses a hormone called levonorgestrel, also known as progesterone, and releases it into your body. It remains effective fro up to 3-5 years, depending on the brand. The most popular IUDs on the market are Mirena, Liletta, Skyla, and Kyleena.
This hormonal contraceptive helps avoid pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus. This way, the sperm can’t get through the uterus and therefore will not be able to reach the egg, preventing ovulation.
On the other hand, the copper IUD does not make use of hormones unlike its counterpart. Instead, it helps prevent pregnancy by releasing copper ions that are toxic to sperm and deactivates it.
The only copper intrauterine device available on the market is sold under the brand name Paragard. It can stay for up to 10 years.
But did you know that the Paragard IUD has been the target of lawsuits lately in the United States?
The IUD users implanted with Paragard claim that they have suffered from a wide range of medical issues including uterine perforation, ectopic pregnancy, and fractures, among others.
Plaintiffs in the Paragard lawsuit alleged that the injuries they have suffered resulted from the Paragard IUD being defective and prone to breaking during removal.
Both types of IUDs are said to be over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. But no matter how convenient they may be, no birth control method is completely fool-proof.
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After IUD Removal?
One of the main advantages of the birth control IUD is that it is reversible. This means that once you had a change of heart and start considering fertility plans, you can quickly conceive after its removal.
Other examples of reversible methods include oral contraceptives, vaginal ring, cervical cap, condoms, birth control implant or shot, patch, and diaphragm.
Although some women may experience changes in their menstrual cycle after removal of the device, in most cases, this is temporary.
Mirena IUD users, for instance, experience quick return to fertility and do not experience any long-term fertility-related problems following an uncomplicated use of Mirena.
In case of Paragard, a recent study found that out of 562 women who were surveyed after they had their IUD removed because of future fertility plans, 78 percent of the women who used copper IUDs were able to get pregnant at an average of 11 months.
On the other hand, there was a pregnancy rate of 74 percent among women who used IUDs with the emergency contraception levonorgestrel.
The study also showed that the rate of pelvic inflammatory disease among the group of women is around 11 percent. 12 women also experienced an ectopic pregnancy, which is a common scare in copper IUDs. Even though rare, this kind of ectopic or extrauterine pregnancy happens when the embryo attaches outside of the uterus, most commonly in the fallopian tube.
In a different study published in 2015, researchers recruited 69 former IUD users and 42 former non-IUD users. All of the women were aged 18 to 35 and discontinued birth control because of future pregnancy plans.
In a span of 12 months, pregnancy rates between the two groups were similar. 81 percent of IUD users were successful in becoming pregnant compared to 70 percent of non-IUD users. The study also found that there was no significant difference in the amount of time it took for the two groups of women to become pregnant.
There is, however, a study with a conflicting result. It found that nulliparous women, or women who have never given birth before, who used an IUD for an extended period of time experienced decreased fertility when they tried to conceive.
According to the study, only 28 percent of nulliparous women who used an IUD for 78 months or more became pregnant within 12 months, compared to 45 percent of those who used an IUD for a shorter period of time.
The link between the extended use of IUD and decreased fertility remained after other factors that affect fertility were taken into consideration.
The effects of IUDs on future fertility is a common concern among women. And even though most studies have shown that most birth control methods do not delay fertility, it may still happen in rare cases.
If you are having trouble getting pregnant after the removal of your IUD, it may well be worth it to get yourself checked for any underlying fertility problems.
In most cases, these problems wouldn’t show themselves when you have an IUD implanted. These include irregular periods, irregularity in ovulation, and pelvic pain. If you are having these problems, your chances at being pregnant may be affected.
Another possibility which may affect fertility is scarring in the uterus because of the IUD, which might increase the risk of miscarriage.
The bottom line?
If you are considering future fertility plans and you currently have an IUD implanted, talk to your doctor and discuss the removal of the device.
Your doctor may also offer you advice on when it will be best to remove your IUD, what to expect after the procedure, and determine how long it may take for you to get pregnant.