Why Do IUD’s Have a Lifespan?

Why Do IUD’s Have a Lifespan?

Why Do IUD’s Have a Lifespan?


There are lots of reasons to love intrauterine devices (IUDs): They're really effective at preventing pregnancy, they require zero effort, and they last a long time.


Two popular IUDs might last even longer than experts once thought.


Mirena is a hormonal IUD that's FDA-approved for 5 years of contraception. ParaGard is a copper IUD that's FDA-approved for 10 years of contraception. But several studies done in hundreds of real women show that they can be just as effective for 7 years and 12 years, respectively.


So why haven't you heard about it yet?

There's a big, important caveat: Studies of extended IUD use have only been done in women who were age 25 or older and had at least one child when they got the device inserted.


These findings could also apply to women who haven't had kids — we just don't yet have the data to know for sure. And since younger women have higher odds of getting pregnant, they may not be able to use IUDs past their approved expiration dates, either.

Plus, the studies — while high in quality — have looked at a relatively small number of women. So it makes sense that some experts are wary of pushing the IUD's lifespan.


"The data is limited but promising," Dr. Salena Zanotti, MD, a gynecologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told INSIDER. "To ensure adequate contraception, we do recommend following the [FDA-approved] labeling until larger studies have been done."


Still, using an IUD past its approved expiration date is considered using it off-label.

That's a catchall term to denote when doctors prescribe meds for a different use than originally intended.

"We use things off label very commonly in medicine, and I explain that to people," Gunter said. "And some people are totally comfortable with that."


But some people aren't — and that's okay.

"If you have somebody who is incredibly anxious [about getting pregnant] and simply cannot accept the fact that we don't have large studies with thousands of women designed specifically to look at this question, then they might want to have their IUD replaced [on time]," Gunter said.


The bottom line: If  you want to replace your IUD exactly at the FDA-approved time, go for it. But if you had your ParaGard or Mirena inserted at age 25 or older, and you're okay with using the device off-label, it's worth talking with your doctor about extended use. 


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Source credit: thisisinsider.com



All information supplied herein is not the opinion or onus of the publisher or supplier. It is recommended that you stick to the guidelines as laid out by the IUD supplier in terms of removal timelines.