The Pill vs. an IUD: Which Is Right for Me?

The Pill vs. an IUD: Which Is Right for Me?

Family planning lets you decide when you’re ready to have kids, or avoid it altogether if that’s more your speed. With plenty of birth control options to choose from, making the choice can be an overwhelming endeavor. You might have to try a few different forms before you find one that checks all your boxes. 

Our medical experts Clifton Etienne, MD, Michael Cavanagh, MD, and Flora Brewington, MD, can guide you through the decision-making process during family planning appointments at Westmed Family Healthcare in Westminster, Colorado. 

Between intrauterine devices (IUDs) and the pill, two of the most popular forms of birth control, there are many differences to consider. They share similar rates of effectiveness when used correctly, but you might trust one more than the other or find it easier to use. 

In this article, we’ll compare the benefits of the pill and IUDs so you don’t have to. Here’s what you should know:

How the pill works

The pill is a hormonal form of contraceptive that uses hormones to prevent ovulation, thus keeping you from getting pregnant when you’re not yet ready. Some birth control pills contain both estrogen and progestin while others contain progestin by itself. Progestin is a synthetic form of progesterone, which is produced by your ovaries along with estrogen. 

In addition to stopping ovulation, the pill thickens your cervical mucus to divert sperm from entering your uterus. As long as you take your birth control pill once a day around the same time every day, it has a 99% rate of effectiveness for preventing pregnancy. 

Aside from preventing pregnancy, hormonal birth control pills have a few additional benefits. They help regulate your menstrual cycle, can prevent menstrual cramps, and improve acne. 

How an IUD works

Physicians position an intrauterine device in your uterus during a minor nonsurgical procedure. Unlike the pill, there are multiple types of IUDs. Consider these two categories:

Hormonal IUDs

Hormonal IUDs work in a similar way to birth control pills. They release low levels of progestin over time and typically last for around five years before you need to replace them. The progestin thickens your cervical mucus to prevent sperm from going any further upward. One bonus of hormonal IUDs is they often lead to lighter and shorter menstrual periods. 

Nonhormonal IUDs

Nonhormonal IUDs don’t have the possible side effects that come with hormonal forms of birth control, like a hormonal IUD or the pill. They contain copper, which chemically alters your uterus into an environment that is toxic for sperm. A nonhormonal IUD lasts for up to 10 years before it’s time to get a replacement.

Both types of IUD have over 99% rates of effectiveness as long as they remain in place. 

Drawing comparisons

Using the pill and using IUDs are two very different processes. Some people prefer IUDs because you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day, and you don’t need to worry about losing or forgetting your pills when you leave the house. Instead, IUDs allow you to go about your days without needing to take any regular action. 

On the other hand, the pill doesn’t require you to go through the discomfort of having an IUD inserted and taken out. If you’re good about staying organized and following the routine of taking a pill every day, you might decide that an uncomfortable procedure every few years isn’t worth it. You might also enjoy the pill for its benefits if you have a condition like endometriosis or uterine fibroids, which the pill helps treat. 

When it comes to family planning, our experts can answer all of your inquiries. If you’re ready to compare different forms of birth control, schedule an appointment over the phone or online at Westmed Family Healthcare today.

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