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Intra-uterine devices, more commonly abbreviated as IUDs, are one of the most common forms of birth control available to women today in order to prevent pregnancy. They vary in type between levonorgestrel hormone types, such as Mirena, to copper wire types, such as ParaGuard. While both methods report an average efficacy rate of 99.7%, statistics might fail you, and you could become pregnant.
The symptoms of a pregnancy with an IUD often mirror the symptoms of a normal pregnancy. Below are 6 common symptoms you could experience should you become pregnant while using an IUD. If you do exhibit these symptoms and feel you might be pregnant, you will need to contact your physician as soon as possible as pregnancies while using an IUD can be dangerous.
1. Bleeding and Cramping
One of the earliest signs of pregnancy is implantation bleeding, which occurs six to twelve days after the egg has been fertilized. This often results in mild spotting when the egg has implanted itself into the uterus. Cramping, which often feels the same as the type you might experience during your normal cycle, tends to accompany the bleeding. Many women mistake these symptoms as the beginning of their period. Related to bleeding, your vagina might also begin to excrete a creamy white discharge, which results from the thickening of your uterine wall.
Another common symptom of normal pregnancy that you could experience in rounded ligament pain. While your body is trying to increase bloodflow to your uterus, your ligaments stretch and become rounded. This creates uncomfortable and sometime painful cramping and spasms in your abdomen.
More commonly referred to as “morning sickness”, nausea during pregnancy is one of the most well known symptoms. As the nickname suggests, this nausea and vomiting typically occurs in the morning. However, you might experience these symptoms at any time of the day. The specific cause of this symptom is unknown but most doctors believe it is linked to the increased hormone levels during pregnancy.
In addition to nausea, you might also experience unusual or strong food cravings or food aversions, such as feeling nauseous when smelling food that you might otherwise enjoy.
Another common symptom of pregnancy with an IUD is fatigue, or tiredness, due to an increase in the pregnancy hormone Progesterone. It could also be caused by low blood sugar or an increase in blood cell production. This symptom normally occurs early on in the pregnancy, starting around the first week after implantation.
4. Changes in Your Breasts
An earlier indicator of pregnancy is changes in your breasts. If you are pregnant, you might feel pain or increased tenderness in your breasts. They may also swell, feel heavier, or change in other ways such as the areolas darkening.
5. Other Hormonal Changes
Due to the drastic changes in your body’s hormone levels when you are pregnant, there are several other symptoms you could experience, the first of which might be constipation. Constipation is caused by the rising levels of progesterone in your system, as it slows the passage of food throughyour intestines. Often combined with constipation, you might also experience frequent urination. This normally begins though in the sixth to eighth week of pregnancy.
Another hormonal change that you might experience includes constant mild headaches, and chronic back pain. Additionally, you could end up with mood swings, especially early on in the pregnancy.
Probably the most unsettling symptom you could experience if pregnant with an IUD is dizziness and fainting. This relates to the aforementioned round ligament dilating, lower blood pressure and lower blood sugar as well. If you experience this symptom, a visit to your doctor is highly recommended.
6. Missed Periods
Perhaps the most common symptom of pregnancy both with an IUD and without is a missed period. This symptom can often be ignored, however, for women who become pregnant with an IUD as they can cause irregular periods, or end periods altogether for some women. Roughly 25% of women who use Mirena or other hormone based intra-uterine deviceswill see their period cease while using the device. However, if you are using a copper based IUD you should see no change in your normal period cycle. Should you experience a disruption in your cycle, or miss a period, it is a good idea to take a pregnancy test.
Risks of a Pregnancy with an IUD
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above you should call your doctor as soon as possible to obtain a pregnancy test. Due to the effect of the IUD, both hormonal and non-hormonal, the risk of miscarriage with an IUD increases to 50%, and even after the IUD has been removed, the risk of miscarriage could still be as high as 25%. Additionally, becoming pregnant with an IUD in place could result in an ectopic pregnancy, where the fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. A pregnancy of this type, if not caught in time, could result in damage to the woman’s reproductive system. If you are concerned about this being a possibility and you are experiencing the symptoms previously mentioned, you should also be on the lookout for these following symptoms as well:
- Painful Urination
- Vaginal Bleeding outside of the normal spotting mentioned above.
- Inflammation of the abdomen
- Internal Bleeding caused by a hemorrhage
- Increased pressure in the rectum
- Severe abdominal pain
All of these symptoms can be signs of a serious health concern and might require immediate medical assistance.
Mirena, ParaGuard, and other intra-uterine devices are some of the most common and trustworthy forms of birth control available to women today. They boast an impressive 99.7% efficacy rate, but like most things, are not perfect. If you feel you could be pregnant, it is recommended to have your doctor examine you.