What’s the Difference Between Hormonal and Non-Hormonal IUDs?

You have many choices when it comes to preventing pregnancies. One of the tried-and-true options that women turn to for long-term effectiveness is the intrauterine device (IUD)

Here at Medical Care for Women in Astoria, New York, Dr. Andrea Olanescu specializes in gynecological and obstetric issues, and is passionate about helping you find the right birth control for your body and your lifestyle. 

Among other methods, we offer IUDs to help you avoid pregnancy safely and effectively for years. 

A word about IUDs

If you’re looking for a hassle-free, long-term birth control method, an IUD is a great option. While most forms of birth control require “remember it everyday” doses or “heat of the moment” application, the IUD is a “fix it and forget it” solution. 

The IUD is a very small device that we implant into your uterus right here in the office. It’s not painful and only takes a few minutes. IUDs are T-shaped with a small string attached to the end so that we can easily remove it if and when you want to become pregnant. 

In and of itself, the device does nothing to prevent pregnancy. But depending on the type you choose, it causes a reaction in your body that stops sperm from fertilizing your eggs. 

There are two main types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal. Here’s how they compare.

Hormonal IUDs

The FDA has approved four brands of IUDs that release hormones into your body at regular intervals to prevent pregnancy: Kyleena®, Mirena®, Skyla®, and LILETTA®. Each one prevents pregnancy by releasing the hormone progestin, but there are slight variations between them.


Mirena is the first hormone-releasing IUD approved by the FDA. Like all hormonal IUDs, Mirena reduces the frequency of your ovulation, thickens your cervical mucus (making it harder for sperm to pass through), and prevents sperms from binding to your egg. 

Mirena contains 52 mg of levonorgestrel and releases about 20 mcg a day after insertion. It releases 10 mcg per day after five years, when it needs to be replaced.


Approved by the FDA in 2013, Skyla also offers a slow release of hormones. It contains 13.5 mg of levonorgestrel and releases about 14 mcg per day for the first 25 days.

Skyla needs to be replaced after three years.


Another levonorgestrel-releasing IUD, LILETTA was approved by the FDA in 2015. It can be used for six years. 

LILETTA is similar to Mirena in that it also contains 52 mg of levonorgestrel to start and releases 20 mcg per day. But it drops to 8.6 mcg after year six.


The newest kid on the block, Kyleena received FDA approval in 2016. Like the others, Kyleena uses the hormone levonorgestrel to prevent pregnancy, but Kyleena starts with 19.5 mg of the hormone and releases 17.5 mcg a day at the beginning.

It drops to 7.4 mcg after five years, when it needs to be replaced.

Non-hormonal IUDs

Paragard® is the only non-hormonal IUD approved by the FDA. It looks like its hormonal counterparts but works very differently. 

Instead of releasing hormones into your system, Paragard has about 176 mg of copper wire coiled around the stem of the T-shaped device. It has another 68.7 mg of copper wound around the two arms of the T. 

Sperm hate copper. The copper interacts with your body, creating an inflamed environment inside your uterus that prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing your eggs and prevents eggs from attaching to the inner wall of your uterus. 

Effectiveness of Paragard

Like hormonal IUDs, Paragard is 99% effective. But it also comes with a few possible side effects, such as:

Paragard is a great choice if you want to avoid taking hormones.

Important facts about IUDs

Regardless of which IUD you choose, you should come back to see us about a month after insertion to make sure it implanted well and that there are no complications. After that, you don’t have to think about it again. 

All IUDs come with the potential for certain side effects, including:

It’s also a good idea to have us check your IUD about once a year to ensure it hasn’t shifted out of position. If it has, you have an increased chance of becoming pregnant and sustaining a tear in your uterus.

The good news is that not everyone experiences these side effects, they are often mild, and hormonal IUDs have a 99% success rate.

To learn more about IUDs or to schedule an appointment to have one placed, call or book your visit online today.

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