What side effects may occur with a hormone-releasing intrauterine device?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Practitioner

Side effects may include headaches, nausea, weight gain, nervousness, depression, high blood pressure, acne, abdominal or back pain, and sinus or upper respiratory infection. Other side effects may include breast pain, a low sex drive, menstrual problems, missed periods, vaginal discharge, vaginitis, or abnormal Pap smears.

A small hole, called a perforation, can occur in the uterus when an IUD is inserted. This is a rare complication that happens in fewer than 1 of every 1,000 insertions. During the first few weeks after IUD insertion, women have a slightly higher risk for pelvic inflammatory disease. Symptoms include fever, vaginal discharge, lower abdominal pain, painful sex, and unusual bleeding. See your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms after having an IUD inserted.

An IUD can slip out of place or fall out. This happens in up to 10% of women within the first year after insertion. The risk is higher for women who have never been pregnant, women under age 20, those who have the device inserted right after childbirth, and those who have heavy or painful periods. Sometimes, the IUD slips without a woman noticing it. If you use an IUD, check the strings regularly to be sure that it is still in place.

This answer was adapted from Sharecare's award-winning AskMD app. Start a consultation now to find out what's causing your symptoms, learn how to manage a condition, or find a doctor.

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