IUDs As Far As The Eye Can See

It may not be a Hover Board, but a new intrauterine device (IUD) is definitely cause for excitement in our book. Already, more U.S. women are using IUDs than ever before, and the arrival of Skyla this month means more options for them—not to mention for the women who haven’t tried one yet.

Given the increasing popularity of IUDs and the cultish following they inspire for some happy users, it’s about time the U.S. started catching up with Europe, where there are a dozen IUDs approved for use. With Skyla hitting the market next week and several other prospects on the horizon, let’s just say we’re feeling optimistic.

First up, Skyla (Mirena’s lil sis)

The same company that makes the Mirena IUD is introducing Skyla, an IUD that works in the basically same way as Mirena. Both release a low dose of the hormone levonorgestrel, which thickens cervical mucus and blocks sperm. Both are over 99% effective.

So what’s the difference?

  • Skyla is slightly smaller than Mirena, which means it may be more comfortable than Mirena, especially for young women and women who haven’t had a child.
  • Because of the smaller frame, Skyla has a slightly lower-dose of hormones, which means it only lasts for three years instead of Mirena’s five.
  • Unlike Mirena, Skyla is being marketed to women who haven’t had a child. Confused? Lots of women who haven’t had children are already using Mirena, but the group of women who participated in the tests of Mirena for the FDA didn’t include women without children, so the company that makes Mirena is forbidden to advertise to them. Skyla, on the other hand, was tested and approved by the FDA for women with no children, so it can be marketed directly to those women.

Next up, a lower-cost hormonal IUD

A non-profit company called Medicines360 is testing a new IUD at 27 locations in the U.S. Their goal is to make an affordable, highly effective IUD that women with or without children would be able to use. It will be the same size as the Mirena, release the same low dose of hormone, and work for up to five years. The researchers working on this IUD suspect it will also have similar benefits and drawbacks to the Mirena. They hope it’ll be available in the U.S. by 2015.

And over yonder, on the horizon…

There are some super-innovative IUDs out there, but the companies that make them don’t have plans to bring them to the U.S.—at least not yet. We’re not holding our breath for these, but we think they’re cool enough to mention.

A painkilling copper IUD?

In China, there’s a T-shaped copper IUD that works in a similar way to ParaGard, but also slowly releases a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). The NSAID in the IUD is called indomethacin, and it’s similar to ibuprofen. Lots of women take ibuprofen pills to help manage period pain and cramps. Putting the NSAID right where it’s needed—in the uterus—also seems to work. Preliminary studies show that women using the copper-indomethacin IUD have slightly less bleeding during their periods compared to before they got the IUD. They also have less bleeding compared to women who used other copper IUDs; in fact, women using ParaGard usually report a slight increase in bleeding and discomfort during their periods, which tapers off over time.

The copper-indomethacin IUD is just as effective as other copper IUDs at preventing pregnancy, but more women continue using it over time. Researchers in China are now working on developing a new version of this IUD that will use a narrower tube to place it in the uterus.

Have a ball—in your uterus.

Another interesting IUD in development is calling itself the “Intrauterine Ball,” or IUB. It’s being tested for safety and effectiveness in a small study in Hungary. The IUB has slightly less copper than a ParaGard, in the form of little beads on a flexible, spherical wire frame. The frame is made of memory metal, a material safely used in other medical devices. The memory metal coils into the shape of a sphere as it’s pushed from the placement tube into the uterus. Once it’s in place, the IUB is designed to flex and change shape—and it doesn’t have any pokey edges. The idea is that the flexible frame will cause less discomfort and reduce the number of women whose IUDs are expelled by the uterus. We’re so on board with that plan—stay tuned for the results of the study…


5 Myths About the IUD, Busted!
Why You Should Reconsider the IUD
How Is an IUD Inserted?


Originally published on bedsider.org.


Darlene Leverett
Darlene Leverett5 years ago

I had a Lippes Loop IUD inserted in 1985 on Ontario, Canada and it worked for 20 yrs. until I had it removed in 2005. It was made of all soft plastic with rounded corners - no sharp edges - and did not release hormones so it didn't have to be replaced every 5 yrs. That was the main reason I wanted to get the Lippes Loop and I never had a problem with it.

Unfortunately it was discontinued late in 1985 because there wasn't enough profit in IUDs. Most women at the time seemed to want to take the Pill. It's too bad they don't reintroduce the Lippes Loop because it has no hormones and is totally inert but then if everyone got one and left it in for 20 yrs. there wouldn't be any profit in having to replace your IUD every 3-5 yrs. It's all about the profit margin with anything nowadays.

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby5 years ago


Carol Z.
Carol Z.5 years ago

There might be some good reasons why the IUD isn't popular in the US. It used to be that women were getting pelvic infections from one IUD that is no longer on the market. Now, the fear with the Mirena is that it leaves from its original position in the uterus and tears through the uterine wall. If this happens, not only will you need surgery to get it removed but the IUD is no longer effective. If you have an IUD, one way to know if it has migrated is to check if the strings are still there.

Chinmayee Jog
Chinmayee Jog5 years ago

Thanks for sharing - being an ED doctor we see a fair few complications from the Mirena, however I also meet lots of patients who swear by theirs! I'm glad more options are becoming available - wonder when they'll be used in Aus...

Tammie Chambers
Tammie Chambers5 years ago

I love my mirena IUD...but i would love the hungarian IUB even more...

Ruth R.
Ruth R5 years ago

IUD's when they have failed -- somtimes the baby had to be removed to save the mother's lfe. NOT GOOD FOR SOME WOMEN.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago


mary r.
Mary R5 years ago

Not a fan of IUD's. Too many problems have arisen in previous years from the earlier models causing serious medical issues.

Nimue Pendragon

Those things just creep me out...

Lynn D.
Lynn D5 years ago

I'd tread very carefully using these ---- when they first came out years ago, I had one and the damage it caused because they were defected (all costs of removal were paid for by the company making them) is just atrocious! Just tread careful.........remember when the pill first came out and everyone jumped on board...................