Understanding the Different Types of IUDs

Understanding the Different Types of IUDs

Birth control provides women the freedom and comfort to live their lives without the stress and concern of unintended pregnancies. There are various methods of contraception, including intrauterine devices (IUDs). Your lifestyle, health, and when you intend to have children are all factors to consider when choosing the birth control that’s right for you.

OB/GYN Kiran Patel, MD, and family medicine physician Leela Patel, MD, specialize in women’s health and are dedicated to providing top-quality care. Our team wants patients to feel confident in their choice of contraceptive. Schedule a visit with us to talk about your options. We’ve put together information about the different types of IUDs. We can answer any questions you may have and discuss IUDs more in detail at your appointment.

What is an IUD?

An IUD is a t-shaped device that is placed into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. It's a reversible, long-acting birth control option.

This means that women can use this contraceptive for a longer period. When you want to get pregnant, you can easily have it removed. IUDs are safe and very effective. Once removed, fertility returns.

There are five FDA-approved IUDs:

IUDs can last anywhere from 3-10 years, depending on the brand. Most of the time, they have no negative side effects. There is, however, a small chance of ectopic pregnancy or pelvic infection.

Types of IUDs

IUDs have a success rate of over 99% in preventing pregnancy. When compared with other contraceptives, such as condoms and birth control pills, IUDs are the most effective.

The primary distinction between the two types of IUDs is that one is hormonal, and the other is non-hormonal. To prevent pregnancy, one employs hormones, while the other uses metal as a spermicide. Hormonal IUDs thicken cervical mucus, thin the uterine lining, and delay ovulation. 

Skyla, Kyleena, Mirena, and Liletta are hormonal IUDs. 

ParaGard is the only FDA-approved non-hormonal IUD. It contains copper ions that combine with cervical mucus, which kills sperm. It also prevents fertilization by keeping sperm from reaching an egg. 

Hormonal IUDs

Hormonal IUDs release progesterone, which acts as a contraceptive. Hormone-based brands range in terms of size, amount of hormone produced, and duration, but all release hormones that prevent pregnancy. IUDs also tend to cause lighter menstrual flow. Some women have no menstrual flow when using a hormonal IUD. 


The duration for each IUD varies. Mirena, Liletta, and Kyleena prevent pregnancy for five years, while Skyla lasts three years. 


ParaGard contains copper. Steel coils make up the stainless-steel ring, which is placed into the uterus. The goal is to create an unsuitable environment for sperm.

The device destroys sperm and reduces motility, preventing sperm from reaching an egg so that fertilization does not occur. Copper itself is a spermicide, and higher levels of copper ions in the uterus can reduce sperm viability and motility.

ParaGard creates an inflammatory response in the body. The inflammation kills sperm, and even if some sperm survive, the copper element kills them. ParaGard prevents pregnancy for 10 years.

The choice of contraceptive is a very personal one. We’re here to help you determine which type of birth control best fits your needs and lifestyle. If you’re considering birth control, reach out to us by calling our South Charleston, West Virginia, office to schedule a visit with one of our providers. New and existing patients can also request an appointment online.

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