Copper vs. Hormonal IUDs: Which One Is Right for You?

IUDs are important facets of reproductive health for millions of women. They are a highly reliable form of contraception—but there are key differences in the varieties available. Today, Women’s Health Specialists will explain copper vs hormonal IUDs and which one is right for you.

The Main Differences

  • Hormonal: Hormonal IUDs are placed in the uterus. They administer a progestin hormone called levonorgestrel. This hormone thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg, and it also prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterine lining. Some examples of hormonal IUDs include Mirena, Kyleena, Liletta, and Skyla. Our office both places and removes these devices for patients.
  • Copper: A copper IUD is non-hormonal and is placed in the arm. The copper creates an environment in the uterus that is toxic to sperm, preventing fertilization. Our office proudly offers Nexplanon. Copper IUDs are also considered suitable for emergency contraception.

Comparing the Two

With these overviews in mind, let’s go over some of the key factors that you should consider when selecting your own option. We will work closely with you throughout this process to ensure your needs and preferences are being met.

  • Duration: 
      • Hormonal IUDs can be active for 10-12 years.
      • Copper ones can do the same for 3-6 years. 
  • Menstrual Effects: 
      • Hormonal IUDs usually result in lighter periods and reduced cramps, though irregular bleeding can happen in the beginning. They can also be used as a measure against medical conditions, specifically endometriosis. 
      • Copper IUDs can have the opposite effect, causing heavier bleeding and cramps in some. This will be slightly different from case to case.
  • Effectiveness:
      • Both are extremely effective at preventing pregnancies; failure rates tend to fall below 1%.
  • Hormonal Side Effects:
      • Hormonal IUDs can cause mood changes, breast tenderness, or acne.
      • Copper IUDs do not affect hormones at all. This can be advantageous for those who experience hormonal irregularities prior to contraception. 
  • Insertion Timing
      • Hormonal IUDs are best inserted during or just after menstruation.
      • Copper IUDs can be used at any point in a patient’s cycle.
  • Cost
      • Hormonal IUDs generally have a higher upfront cost.
      • Copper IUDs can, therefore, be seen as a more economical choice.
  • Reversibility:
      • Hormonal IUDs are reversible, though not instantaneously. A patient can still plan pregnancy around removal since fertility does return shortly after.
      • Copper IUDs are immediately reversible when removed. 

Copper vs. Hormonal IUDs: Which One Is Right for You?

Other FAQs

Choosing to get an IUD is a hugely personal choice for any individual, especially when it is a factor in family planning for couples. You have every reason to ask questions, and we’re always here to answer them. Here are some miscellaneous questions you might find yourself asking:

Q: Does IUD insertion hurt?
One of our providers, who are, of course, professionals, will always perform the insertion. Cramping can occur for some during the procedure, but pain levels vary among patients. Over-the-counter pain relievers are typically effective in helping reduce discomfort.


Q: I don’t have any children. Does this affect my qualification for an IUD?
Not at all. Women who have and have not had children are both able to get IUDs. The decision is based on other health factors and preferences.


Q: Are IUDs safe for breastfeeding?
Yes, especially hormonal ones, are generally considered safe for use while breastfeeding. Your provider can help to explain this further.


Q: Does an IUD protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?

No, neither type of IUD protects you from STIs. These are solely contraceptives and, therefore, have no impact on infections. Using condoms can be an extra measure against STI protection.


Q: Are there age restrictions?

Generally, no. Women of various ages can find benefits from IUDs. Again, it all comes down to personal considerations.


Q: Does an IUD cause weight gain?
There is limited evidence to suggest that hormonal IUDs occasionally cause some minor weight gain in some patients. However, there’s no definitive response in terms of weight, and this can be discussed with your provider if it is a cause for concern.


Q: Does insurance cover the cost of my IUD?
Insurance coverage varies from person to person, but many plans do cover the cost of IUDs. You must always check with your insurance provider for specific coverage details. 

Copper vs. Hormonal IUDs: Which One Is Right for You?

Choosing with Confidence

Hopefully, this has shed some light on both the general role of an IUD and some of the variations between types. As with any contraception, there can be effects elsewhere in the body, so it’s important to bring up these questions and refer to your medical history for accurate answers. We would be thrilled to help you in this process. Our Germantown office can be reached at 901-682-9222.