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Hormonal vs. Non-Hormonal IUDs: What’s the difference?

In the realm of contraception, Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) have gained significant popularity due to their effectiveness, convenience, reversibility and low side effect profile. They are considered a first line choice for all women regardless of age and child bearing status, They are an immediately reversible, long-term contraceptive method that offers women reliable contraception without requiring daily attention. They are “set and forget”.


There are two primary types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs. Understanding the differences between these options is important for women seeking the most suitable birth control method for their individual needs.

Hormonal IUDs (aka the Mirena or Kyleena IUD)

Hormonal (Mirena) IUD

Hormonal IUDs release a small amount of progestogen, a synthetic hormone similar to progesterone, into the uterus. This hormone primarily works by thickening cervical mucus, thereby preventing sperm from reaching the egg. Additionally, it can also affect the uterine lining, making it less receptive to implantation.

Advantages of Hormonal IUDs:


  1. Highly Effective: Hormonal IUDs are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

  2. Reduced Menstrual Bleeding: Many women experience lighter periods or even no periods at all with hormonal IUDs.

  3. Decreased Menstrual Cramps: Some individuals notice a reduction in menstrual cramps after getting a hormonal IUD.

  4. Treatment for Menstrual Disorders: Hormonal IUDs are sometimes used to manage conditions like endometriosis and heavy periods.

  5. Can be used for menopausal women as a component of hormone treatment.

  6. Long-lasting: Non-hormonal IUDs can provide contraceptive protection for 5-6 years.

  7. Immediate reversibility: Fertility returns straight away after the removal of hormonal IUD.

Non-Hormonal IUDs (aka the Copper IUD)


Non-Hormonal (Copper) IUD

Unlike their hormonal counterparts, non-hormonal IUDs, also known as copper IUDs, do not contain any hormones. Instead, they are made of copper, making it an unsuitable place for pregnancy. This copper is inert and does not enter the blood stream.

Advantages of Non-Hormonal IUDs:

  1. Hormone-free: Ideal for women who prefer birth control methods without hormonal influence.

  2. Long-lasting: Non-hormonal IUDs can provide contraceptive protection for up to 10 years.

  3. Immediate reversibility: Fertility returns straight away after the removal of a non-hormonal IUD.

Choosing Between Hormonal and Non-Hormonal IUDs:

The choice between a hormonal and non-hormonal IUD often depends on individual health concerns, preferences, and attitude to menstruation.

Consider Hormonal IUDs if:

  1. You prefer lighter periods or no periods at all.

  2. You have a condition such as endometriosis, adenomyosis or heavy menstrual bleeding that will respond to local hormonal treatment within the uterus.

Consider Non-Hormonal IUDs if:

  1. You prefer birth control without hormonal influence.

  2. You experience adverse effects with hormonal contraceptives.

  3. You don't mind if your periods become longer, heavier and/or more crampy


Both hormonal and non-hormonal IUDs are highly effective and safe birth control options. Deciding between the two should involve discussions with a healthcare provider who can assess individual needs, preferences, and any medical considerations.

At Clinic 66 Online, our team of specialist women’s health GPs is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance and personalised care to help you make informed choices about your reproductive health.

If you have further questions or wish to talk to a doctor about IUD options, schedule an online appointment with us to discuss hormonal vs non-hormonal IUDs and to determine which type of IUD aligns best with your needs and preferences.




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