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Hormonal IUD

Quick Facts

Most effective

Lighter periods

Effective for 3 to 6 years

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

Does not protect from STDs

A T-shaped white IUD

More about Hormonal IUDs

  • IUD stands for intrauterine device.
  • The IUD is a small T-shaped piece of plastic that is placed in your uterus.
  • If you don’t want to worry about taking birth control, an IUD can be a great choice for you.
  • There are four kinds of hormonal IUDs in the US. Each is a little different in terms of how much hormone it releases.
  • They last for 3 to 6 years, depending on which kind you choose.
  • IUDs are reversible, so if you want to get pregnant, you can have the IUD taken out at any time.
  • You don’t need to do anything before you have sex.
  • Most women have lighter, shorter periods with the hormonal IUD. After 3 to 6 months, your periods may stop all together.
  • Hormonal IUDs help decrease menstrual cramping.
  • The IUD does not protect you from HIV or other STDs.

How the Hormonal IUD Works

The hormonal IUD thickens your cervical mucus which blocks sperm from getting to the egg. If sperm can’t get to an egg, you can’t get pregnant. The IUD may also stop eggs from leaving the ovaries. No egg, no pregnancy.

The first step to getting an IUD is to make an appointment. Your Family PACT provider will talk with you and give you a pelvic exam to make sure the hormonal IUD is right for you. After you decide to have an IUD placed, it can be inserted during an office visit. That’s it!

You may feel some cramps or get dizzy when you first get an IUD. They should go away with rest or pain medicine.

Once the IUD is in, you should check once a month for a small string that hangs down in your vagina. The strings are there so the IUD can be taken out later. Don’t pull on the strings or you could move the IUD out of place. If you don’t want to check for the strings yourself, your provider can do it for you one month after you get the IUD and once a year after that.

You will need to use a backup method of birth control for the first week after a hormonal IUD is put in.

Uterus with an IUD inside
Donut chart showing 99%. The title says "Over 99% effective"


The hormonal IUD is more than 99% effective at preventing a pregnancy. This means that less than 1 out of 100 women who use this method will get pregnant in a year.

It is one of the most effective kinds of birth control. Unlike most other methods, you don’t have to do anything once the IUD is in. Some medications may make the hormonal IUD less effective, so talk to your provider to see if this method will work well for you.


  • You don’t have to remember to take it every day.
  • It doesn’t interrupt the heat of the moment.
  • Most women have fewer, lighter periods. After 3 to 6 months, some women have no periods at all.
  • Your birth control is taken care of for 3 to 6 years.
  • It can be used while breastfeeding.
  • It can be used by women who can’t take estrogen.

Your provider can talk with you more about these benefits and whether the hormonal IUD is the best choice for you.

Nine hands each holding a thumbs up
A hanging sign labeled side effects

Side Effects

You may have some cramps in the first few minutes after the IUD is put in. Some women get cramps and backaches for a few days after the IUD is put in. Some women have irregular periods or spotting between periods, mostly in the first few months of having an IUD.

Most side effects go away on their own, so give it some time. If you have side effects that don’t improve after 3 months, talk with your Family PACT provider about switching to something that works better for you. Just make sure to stay protected by starting a new method right away.

IUDs don’t protect you from HIV or other STDs. Condoms and internal condoms give great STD protection, so to stay safe you can use condoms as well as your IUD.

Serious side effects that happen very rarely are:

  • The IUD can slip out of the uterus without you knowing it.
  • You can get a pelvic infection.
  • The IUD can tear the muscle of the uterus.

Family PACT Coverage

If you are eligible, Family PACT covers the cost of the hormonal IUD. A provider can help you decide if a hormonal IUD is the best choice for you. You can search for a Family PACT provider near you by clicking on the “Provider Search” button in the right hand corner of this page.

California Department of Health Care Services Family PACT logo