Both the oral contraceptive pill and the IUD are forms of contraception that are commonly used in Australia. When a woman is considering the pros and cons of different types of contraception, she might wish to consider the following: risk of side effects, cost and effectiveness, and user experience.
Risks – Pill vs IUD
Like all medical interventions, there are risks associated with different types of contraception. For the oral contraceptive pill, this might include hormonal side effects such as headaches, weight gain, mood changes, reduced libido, skin changes, and altered bleeding pattern.
IUD – Hormonal and Non-Hormonal
For the IUD, there are some small risks around the insertion or placement of the IUD such as failure to insert, perforation of the uterus, expulsion of the device, and infection. All of these events are very unlikely, provided that the IUD is correctly located in the uterus.
There may also be some additional noticeable effects, which will depend whether the IUD is hormonal or non-hormonal. A non-hormonal (copper) IUD may cause menstruation to be heavier, longer, and or more painful.
With the hormonal IUD, some women are very sensitive to the Levonorgestrel, and the tiny amount that escapes into the circulation may cause pimples, weight gain, hair loss, or mood disturbance. However, these hormonal factors are less likely than in a woman who takes the oral contraceptive pill.
Cost and Effectiveness – IUD vs Pill
The combined oral contraceptive pill, provided it is taken properly i.e. everyday with no missed pills is approximately 91% effective. The copper IUD and the hormonal IUD are both more than 99% effective.
The oral contraceptive pill may vary in price, depending on the brand and the formulation. Some pills in Australia are subsidised by the PBS and some aren’t. A prescription for the oral contraceptive pill may cost anywhere between $40 and $90 for a 3-month supply.
Both the non-hormonal and hormonal IUD are more expensive initially. The hormonal IUD costs $39 for a Medicare card holder and the copper IUD costs approximately $100 as it is not subsidised by Medicare. However, the length of duration for the IUDs—around 5-10 years— make them a lot cheaper over the course of the device’s validity.
User Experience – Pill vs IUD
The pill needs to be taken every day and if pills are missed, this type of contraception may fail. A woman who takes the pill needs to be organised and have a reliable pill-taking routine. Women who experience side effects from the pill are less likely to take it every day.
IUD insertion requires a medical procedure with a specially trained doctor. There may be some discomfort on insertion and for the first few weeks there may be minor cramping, but a woman should not feel her IUD and nor should her partner when they are having sex. If a woman or her partner feel discomfort during intercourse relating to the IUD, she needs to be examined as this may indicate a problem. IUDs are known as Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) and represent a set-and-forget form of contraception as the device is inside a woman’s body, and she does not need to pay it any attention after the initial check post-insertion until she wants to have it removed. IUD removal should be undertaken by a doctor.
For a full and detailed consultation regarding what type of contraceptive is right for you, please make an appointment to see any of our consulting doctors at Clinic 66. We will help you decide what’s the best for you.