About 10% of American women who use birth control choose to get an intrauterine device (IUD). IUDs, which are available in hormonal and copper varieties, are generally quite safe but come with a unique set of risks not associated with other forms of birth control. The risks of getting an IUD, be it hormonal or copper, include:
- Pain on insertion. A brief period of pain immediately after insertion, with possible cramping for up to two days.
- Irregular periods or spotting between periods. Your period might not follow a regular schedule, and light spotting might occur between cycles.
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This infection can occur if the IUD’s insertion leads to bacterial contamination of the reproductive organs; the IUD itself does not cause PID. This risk is present for up to one month after insertion.
- Spontaneous dislodge. Sometimes, IUDs get spontaneously expelled, either completely or partially. If this happens, you will need to have your health care provider insert the IUD again.
- Uterine perforation. In rare cases, an IUD can perforate the uterine wall. This complication only occurs in about 1 of every 1,000 IUDsinserted.
- Complications during pregnancy. IUDs fail in a small number of cases each year, leading to pregnancy. The device increases the risk of infection, preterm labor, and other complications. Having a health care provider remove the IUD soon after conception reduces the risk of pregnancy complications.
Risks specific to copper IUDs include excessive amounts of copper in the body, leading to symptoms of fatigue, mood swings, increased appetite or cravings, and brain fog.