Can An IUD Cause Depression?

In many ways, contraception is a really positive thing. It gives individuals so much more control over their own bodies and actions.

Can An IUD Cause Depression?

It almost completely (around 99% effectively) prevents unwanted pregnancies and gives females more freedom in their sexual endeavors. 

However, as many of us girls know, that comes at a pretty hefty price. You need only look at the expansive list of side effects that come with the pill to prove this.

But it’s not just the pill that can affect our minds and bodies, the same can go for an IUD which is a hormonal or copper intrauterine device. 

Each form of birth control can come with its own set of advantages and disadvantages and you should always discuss this at length with your healthcare provider before settling on an option. 

But today we’re talking about something less spoken about. The link between IUDs and depression. If you’d like to find out more, keep reading! 

 Can IUDs Affect Your Mental Health Or Cause Depression?

The answer to this question is actually pretty complicated to answer and that is simply because there is so much contrasting data or in some cases just not enough information at all.

Let’s take a look at some of the different studies out there to try and determine an answer. 

Yes – And Here’s The Evidence

According to Functional Medicine Naturopathic Medical Doctor Dr. Jolene Brighten, there is overwhelming evidence to support the claim that IUDs can be linked to depression.

She talks about this in further depth in her book Beyond the Pill, but we’ll summarize it here. 

In 2016, over a million women took part in a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which revealed that progestin-only contraceptives such as the IUD were associated with a much larger chance of developing depression. 

An OB-GYN called Dr. Jessica Shepherd also told Blood and Milk that studies have suggested that progestin intrauterine devices can show up to triple the number of depression diagnoses and anti-depressant prescriptions among younger women compared to those who are not on birth control at all. 

There’s Potential That It Does – Mixed Results 

However, other studies have provided results that do not support these claims entirely.

There was definitely still an end result that worked in favor of there being a link between depression and IUDs but the results were much smaller than that of the studies mentioned above. 

For example, one of the largest studies on birth control and depression took place in Denmark. Over 14 years worth of data was studied and there were over 1 million participants that took part between the age of 15 and 34.

None of the women used in the study had pre-existing depression or a history of depression in their families.

The result was that only 2.2% of the women were diagnosed with depression within a year of being on the IUD.

This value was only 0.5% more than those who did not use hormonal birth control and were diagnosed with depression within one year.  

However, the study did also find that women were 1.4 times more likely to be prescribed anti-depressants compared to those who did not use hormonal birth control. 

It’s also vital to also remember that though 2.2% sounds like a relatively low value, that still equates to around 22,000 women. And that’s still a lot of women. 

No – There’s No Supporting Evidence 

Other studies, however, say that there is no supporting evidence for the claim that IUDs affect mental health at all. 

For example, a review that was published in 2018 found that across 26 different studies, including five specifically researching hormonal IUDs, only found that one was linked to a higher risk of developing depression. 

The review also states that they believe many previous studies have a higher risk of bias or were unreliable due to a lack of research. 

When To Seek Help 

Regardless of what the studies or scientists seem to say or think though, one thing remains certain, many women are often experiencing symptoms of depression after using an IUD as a form of contraception.

Can An IUD Cause Depression?

You only have to speak to others on contraception or look on online forums to see many women asking the same questions. 

So, it’s likely that more research still needs to be done to truly find and understand the links between depression and IUDs. But what should you do if you believe that you are experiencing depression after having an IUD? 

Speak to your doctor. Reach out to loved ones. But never suffer in silence. 

When you speak to your medical or healthcare professional, there will be a few different options you can discuss.

For example, it may be worth considering a different form of contraception or taking a break from conception altogether for a couple of weeks or months. 

Alternatively, your doctor may also be able to refer you to a specialist for counseling or prescribe you anti-depressants. 

Below you’ll find some of the potential symptoms of depression. If you feel that you relate to any or several of these symptoms, it is definitely worth speaking to a medical professional to decide how to move forward: 

  • Frequent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness. 
  • Frequent feelings of anxiety, frustration, irritability, or worry. 
  • Frequent feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or self-blame. 
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy. 
  • Appetite changes and fluctuations in weight. 
  • Disruption to your usual sleeping patterns. 
  • Lack of energy.
  • Slowed movements, thoughts, and speech. 
  • Memory issues.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Concentration issues. 

Final Thoughts 

Of all the side effects of contraception, one of the most serious and debilitating is depression.

And though the evidence to support the claim that IUDs can be linked to depression is definitely mixed, ultimately nobody knows your mind or body better than yourself. 

If you suspect that your contraception is making you depressed it is imperative that you speak to a medical health professional as soon as possible. 

And should you ever find yourself feeling particularly depressed or even suicidal, please remember that there is a lot of support available to you.

You can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741747, or you can always call 911 in emergencies. 

Just remember that you are never alone and there is help and support available should you ever need it. 

Clare McAfee
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