Erasmus study: IUD can have negative side effects

Contraception through an IUD (Intra Uterine Device) possibly has negative side effects. Research by Erasmus MC shows that women with an IUD have higher cortisol levels and a higher heart rate during stress tests than those who use different types of contraception. Chronic stress can lead to psychological problems such as depression and concentration issues.

The IUD is a much-used contraceptive in the Netherlands. Estimations are that more than 12% of women between 18 and 45 use one, and this number increases every year. It’s a popular type of contraceptive because it protects against pregnancy for five years. Moreover, many women welcome the side effect of not having a period anymore.

Against popular belief
They also like the idea that the hormones are only released in the uterus itself. But researcher Jurate Aleknaviciute found out that’s not true, since they are also at work in the rest of the body. Her research shows that women with an IUD have higher cortisol levels and a higher heart rate: an average of ten beats per minute more than women who are on the pill or don’t use anything.

‘The current directive concerning the IUD really needs to be revised. Women are being told that the IUD just works within the uterus, because it’s assumed that the number of hormones that reach other parts of the body is negligible,’ says her supervisor.

Aleknaviciute: ‘Our study shows this assumption isn’t correct. That’s why women should be informed that the effects of an IUD aren’t just local, and that a heightened stress response is partly caused by the effects of the IUD on the brain.’


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