IUDs provide effective birth control. Some evidence suggests they may increase your risk of depression, but others do not support the claims. Here’s what you need to know.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) come as two main types in the United States: copper-containing IUDs and levonorgestrel-containing IUDs.

LNG-IUDs are a type of hormonal IUD that releases levonorgestrel, a female hormone, which may be linked to depression.

Several different brands offer LNG-IUDs, such as Kyleena, Skyla, and Mirena. No matter which brand your doctor recommends, it contains the same hormone. But, the levels of hormones may differ.

Some evidence suggests that the hormone may increase the risk of depression and other mental health disorders. But, other evidence suggests no association.

A 2023 study examined 7 years of data and over 700 thousand people in Sweden. The researchers suggest that LNG-IUD use was associated with a 57% increased risk of depression.

They also noted that people at most risk included those who started during adolescence and those who never used a hormonal form of birth control before.

An older study from 2016 examined over 1 million people’s use of hormonal birth control, including patches, rings, and LNG-IUDs. Their findings suggest an association between hormonal birth control and an increased risk of depression.

They found that about 2.2% of people who started hormonal birth control started using antidepressants within 1 year compared to 1.7% who did not start hormonal birth control.

In a 2020 case study, researchers discussed current understandings of hormonal birth control and natural fluctuations in hormone levels throughout a person’s life. They suggest that prescribing hormonal birth control may require continual monitoring and changes throughout a person’s life.

They also suggest that depressive symptoms or mood changes may be an adverse drug reaction associated with LNG-IUD. They suggest doctors provide written information about a person’s risk of depression or mood changes associated with LNG-IUD use.

Evidence potentially against increased risks

A 2022 study found less convincing evidence supporting LNG-IUD risk. In their systematic review, the researchers included 22 studies. They found the following:

  • 10 studies showed an increased risk of depression
  • 1 reported increased anxiety
  • 1 reported increased risk of suicide
  • 4 reported no association with depression
  • 2 showed a decreased risk
  • 4 reported uncertain results related to other mental health conditions

In their conclusion, they suggest that general practitioners, gynecologists, and psychiatrists should all be aware of the potential association between using LNG-IUDs and depression or other mental health conditions.

They also suggest future studies continue to examine how LNG-IUDs may affect depression risk.

Another systematic review from 2018 examined 26 studies. They found insufficient evidence to suggest that hormonal birth control increases the risk of depression.

IUDs are generally safe and effective forms of birth control. Both copper-containing IUDs and LNG-IUDs provide more than 99% effective birth control once inserted.

They cannot protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

A common potential risk includes either accidental removal or displacement of the IUD. This often occurs within the first 3 months following insertion.

There’s a small risk of uterine puncture or damage. Potential risks of unintended pregnancy following insertion of the IUD may also be present.

If you develop depression or other mental health concerns, consider discussing your options with a gynecologist or other healthcare professional.

A gynecologist or other healthcare professional may recommend the removal of the hormonal IUD if they suspect that it leads to depression in a person. They may also recommend the use of a different form of birth control.

Additionally, they may suggest treatments based on symptoms. For depression, common treatments include:

  • Psychotherapy: Also known as talk therapy, psychotherapy can help a person work through their emotions and thoughts.
  • Medication: Several antidepressants may help with depression symptoms. Which medications a healthcare professional prescribes will vary based on a person’s response to treatment, other medications, and personal preferences for medication.
  • Lifestyle changes: Some people may find that making changes to their lifestyle can impact their mood. Modifications that can impact mental health include getting more sleep at night, exercising, eating a healthful diet, and taking steps to reduce stress, such as meditation or yoga.

Other therapies, such as light therapy and the use of herbal supplements, are available.

Consider our depression treatment options resource page for more information.

Hormone-containing IUDs may increase your risk of developing depression. But, not all scientific evidence supports the claim.

If you’re concerned about how an IUD may affect your mental health, you may want to consider talking with a gynecologist about your concerns before having the device implanted.

They may recommend alternative forms of birth control or help monitor your mental health if you decide to get the device implanted.

If you develop depression following the insertion of an IUD — or at any time — treatment options are available that may help. Talk therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes can often make a difference and improve symptoms.