This article explains everything you need to know about IUDs available in Canada including both hormonal and non-hormonal (copper) options. You will also learn about brands likeMirena,Kyleena, Liberté, FlexiT, and Monalisa. Let's get started!
IUD: What does IUD stand for and what are they?
IUD is the short form of Intrauterine device. You will often see it in its plural form as IUDs which stands for Intrauterine devices.
IUDs are small devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. They prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from fertilizing eggs and by making it difficult for eggs to implant in the uterus. In other words, they are birth control alternatives to pills or surgery to prevent becoming pregnant.
Hormonal and non-hormonal copper IUDs are different
IUDs are either non-hormonal or hormonal. Let's review how hormonal IUDs are different from non-hormonal copper IUDs.
Hormonal IUDs explained
As the name suggests, hormonal IUDs work by releasing hormones. So how do hormonal IUDs work to prevent pregnancy? Hormonal IUDs release a small amount of progestin to prevent sperm from reaching the ovary. Hormonal IUDs can also prevent ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary), thicken the cervical mucus, and thinning the uterine lining.
In addition to preventing pregnancies, these hormonal IUDs also reduce cramps and lighten your periods. However, for the first few months, your periods may be unpredictable.
Common side effects of hormonal IUDs
The most common side effect when using a hormonal IUD is irregularity in your menstrual cycle in the first few months. For some women, small amounts of hormone may be absorbed into your system and cause:
- Breast tenderness and soreness
- Mood swings
Non-hormonal copper IUDs explained
Non-hormonal IUDs are wrapped in copper and work by altering sperm movement and preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg.
Non-hormonal copper IUDs can also be used as emergency birth control. If inserted within five days of having unprotected sexual intercourse, non-hormonal IUDs are almost 100% effective in preventing pregnancy.
Once placed, these non-hormonal IUDs work for up to ten years. Copper IUDs are an excellent birth control solution for those searching for a maintenance-free contraception.
Non-hormonal Copper side effects
The most common side effects when using non-hormonal copper IUDs are:
- More cramps and heavier bleeding during periods
- Vaginal discharge
- Spotting between periods
If you have a copper allergy or already have very heavy or painful periods, non-hormonal IUDs may not be a good option for you.
What non-hormonal IUDs brands are available in Canada?
Liberté, FlexiT, and Monalisa are available in Canada.
ParaGard is not available in Canada.
How much are non-hormonal copper IUDs in Canada?
Common IUD brands like Liberté, FlexiT, and Monalisa range in cost from $65 to $180.
What are the Hormonal IUD brands available in Canada? Mirena and Kyleena
- Thickening mucus in the cervix, preventing sperm from reaching the egg
- Thinning uterine lining, preventing implantation
- Suppressing ovulation
Both Mirena and Kyleena last for 5 years after insertion and both are >99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Mirena releases more hormones (about 20 micrograms of levonorgestrel daily) compared to Kyleena (about 9 micrograms of levonorgestrel daily). The Kyleena is a little smaller compared to Mirena.
The cost of both these IUDs may differ for various provinces in Canada and are generally available between $320 to $400.
You can check today's prices on Mirena or Kyleena by clicking on these links below:
How to get copper IUDs in Canada?
Copper IUDs require a prescription from a doctor. The doctor will ask you about your health and other medications to understand if the copper IUD is a good option.
Once you get the prescription and fill it, you can get an appointment with the medical professional to insert the IUD.
Before the insertion appointment, the doctor will explain all the steps and precautions to be followed. If you have any questions, review these with your doctor.
Do IUDs cause weight gain?
Both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs are unlikely to cause weight gain. For some women, the progestin hormone (levonorgestrel) present in hormonal IUDs can cause water retention. Typically, any weight gain from hormonal IUD is most likely due to water retention and not fat gain.
What are the most important pros and cons of using copper IUDs?
Pros: Advantages of copper IUDs
Copper IUDs can be a great choice for many women. Some common benefits include:
- Reduced chance of pregnancy due to human error such as forgetting to take a pill or use a condom
- High effectiveness as the failure rate of IUDs range between 0.9% to 1.5%, which is significantly lower than other forms of contraception
- Offers long-term contraception between four to ten years
- Flexibility of removal when you want to conceive
- No hormonal side effects if you are unable to use estrogen or progesterone
Cons: Disadvantages of copper IUDs
Some common drawbacks and risks of using copper IUDs include:
- Insertion discomfort
- Increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
- Risk of the IUD becoming dislodged from of the uterus
- Heavier periods
- Cramping during periods
How does a copper IUD Work?
Copper IUDs are small plastic devices with copper wire coiled around it. Once inserted by a medical professional, the copper creates an environment that is unfavourable for both sperm and eggs. The copper creates an inflammatory response within the uterus that acts as a spermicide and prevents fertilization, which in turn prevents pregnancy.
Why use copper IUDs?
Once in place, copper IUDs effectively prevent pregnancy for 3 to 10 years. This is very cost effective over the long term compared to other contraceptive options like hormonal IUDs or birth control pills. During this time, if you decide you are ready to conceive, you can quickly restore fertility by removing the copper IUD. The copper IUD does not contain any hormonal ingredients, making it a good option for those who cannot take estrogen and/or progesterone due to contraindications or side effects.
How do I get the copper IUD?
All copper IUDs require a prescription from your doctor. During the consultation, ask your doctor any questions you may have and whether this IUD choice is the best one for you.
Once you receive your prescription, you can make an appointment with the appropriate medical professional to have the device inserted.
When you arrive for your appointment, your medical professional will take you through all of the steps and provide you with any additional information that you need to know. You can also use this opportunity to ask any further questions that you may have.
What are the benefits of a copper IUD?
Copper IUDs are >99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Once a copper IUD is inserted, the chances of getting pregnant are slim. Those looking for an effective birth control solution can be confident in knowing that they are well protected. A copper IUD permits regular ovulation in women as it doesn't add any extra hormones into the body. If you cannot take hormonal birth control due to medical contraindications or side effects, copper IUDs may be a good option for you.
Copper IUDs require little maintenance once inserted. Medical professionals recommend a follow-up visit 4-6 weeks after the procedure so that the positioning of the device can be checked.
With the copper IUD being a reversible birth control option, those who have it and are ready to conceive can have it removed. Once removed, your ability to get pregnant returns immediately.
Furthermore, copper IUDs can also be used as an effective form of emergency contraception. In fact, this IUD is one of the most effective forms of emergency contraceptive methods out there. If the IUD is inserted within five days of having unprotected sex, it is 99% effective.
What are the disadvantages of the copper IUD?
While IUDs are effective in preventing pregnancy, they do not prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To protect yourself against STIs, use a latex or polyurethane condom during sex.
Some people describe the IUD insertion procedure as being uncomfortable and painful. After the process of having the IUD inserted is complete, your medical professional may suggest that you take the remainder of the day off to rest.
During the IUD insertion, the uterus can get punctured. While this occurrence is rare, it is worth noting. The incidences of these events increase if the IUD is inserted soon after childbirth.
After the copper IUDhas been placed, some people report an event referred to as expulsion. Expulsion is when the IUD comes out entirely or partially on its own. This event is more likely to happen if you have heavy or long periods, severe menstrual cramps, have never been pregnant or are under the age of 25.
Copper IUD side effects include spotting between periods, or having irregular, heavier and longer periods. Sometimes women experience more cramping during the periods, however, these side effects lessen after a few months of having the IUD inserted. Other less common side effects include infections in the uterus and fallopian tubes within 2-3 weeks after insertion.
Having an IUD inserted soon after childbirth can also increase the chances of expulsion. If you suspect that your IUD has moved or shifted, please seek the advice of a medical professional and use a back-up method of contraception.
The copper IUD is an excellent choice for those who want a long-term birth control option, but don't want an IUD that uses hormones. If you think that the Paragard is the most appropriate IUD for you, please discuss with your medical professional.