The Birth Control Pill vs. the IUD: Which to Choose?

At Kelly Morales OB/GYN in San Antonio, Texas, Dr. Morales and our team are here to help you find the right method of birth control for your unique needs. Our practice offers many safe and effective contraception options, and we’re here to answer any questions or concerns you may have.   

We’ve put together this helpful article to provide information for women choosing between birth control pills and an intrauterine device (IUD).

Which method is right for me: The pill or an IUD?

At Kelly Morales OB/GYN, we know no two women are exactly the same. That’s why it’s important to consider your medical needs and lifestyle and personal preferences when choosing between birth control pills and an IUD

Dr. Morales can provide recommendations based on your health and goals for using contraception. Neither birth control pills nor an IUD protects against sexually transmitted diseases, so you’ll need to use a barrier method, like a condom, to limit your risk of exposure, if applicable.

It’s also important to consider the following questions when making your decision: 

1. How easy is this method going to be for me to use?

Even the most effective birth control won’t be effective if you don’t use it. That’s why it’s important to carefully and honestly think about how easy the pill or an IUD will be for you to use. In other words, realistically consider your ability and willingness to use each method correctly.   

Keep in mind that you need to take birth control pills at about the same time each day while an IUD can last for years. If you’re not someone who can remember to take daily pills on time, or if your lifestyle or work schedule or travel makes this difficult, an IUD may be a better option.

2. What stage are you in with regard to family planning?

If you’re years away from having children, both options can be effective. Remember, however, the pill’s real-life effectiveness rate is lower than an IUD when not taken exactly as directed.

If you’re close to planning your family or in the middle of having children, an IUD may be a better option because IUDs don’t affect your fertility. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Morales to have it removed at any time, and your ability to conceive returns within one menstrual cycle.  

If your family is complete and or you aren’t planning to have children, an IUD offers long-lasting protection against pregnancy. Depending on the IUD you choose, it can remain effective for up to 12 years. 

3. Are you a smoker?

If you’re a smoker and aren’t willing or ready to quit, Dr. Morales may caution you against birth control pills. One of the side effects of birth control pills is a slight increase in your risk of developing blood clots. This risk increases with age. If you’re 35 or older and you smoke, an IUD may be safer. 

4. Do you have endometriosis or fibroids?

If you suffer from endometriosis, a hormonal IUD can help you stop suffering from painful, heavy periods. Hormonal IUDs can also prevent further development of new scar tissue from forming. With an IUD, you’ll experience lighter periods or no periods at all.

If you have fibroids, on the other hand, birth control pills may be a better option. This is because uterine fibroids can cause irregular uterine cavities, limiting the effectiveness of IUDs.

5. Which side effects concern you most?

Both birth control pills and IUDs have side effects, so it’s important to consider which ones you’re most concerned about. Dr. Morales can provide more information to help you decide, but here are some things to keep in mind.

Birth control pills have the potential to affect your sex drive, cause bleeding between periods, make you feel nauseated, or cause vomiting. They’ve also been linked to bloating, fatigue, and headaches. In addition, they can increase your risk of blood clots as mentioned before.

IUDs can cause cramping after insertion, as well as irregular spotting and increased vaginal discharge. In addition, an IUD can move out of place and fall out, requiring Dr. Morales to re-insert it. In extremely rare cases, the IUD can create a hole in the uterus or cervix. 

Remember, the right birth control method is the one that works with your lifestyle and personality. Both IUDs and birth control pills can be good options. Dr. Morales provides information on both types of contraception, and she’s happy to discuss any questions or concerns that may arise during your decision-making process. 

If you’re choosing between birth control pills and an IUD, our team at Kelly Morales OB/GYN can help. Contact our San Antonio office or call 210-570-7277 to schedule an appointment.

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