I love dealing with clients who have hormonal issues like hormonal headaches and migraines because they are one of the straightforward types to correct. At the end of the day we need to think of hormones as just messengers because that is what they are. If our body is having a problem sending the message or receiving it, we are going to run into hormonal symptoms. One of the most important areas here is contraception and I’m often asked if using contraception is the right thing to do for migraines. In this article, I will be discussing hormonal migraines in conjunction with the BEST IUD for migraine sufferers.
Before I get started I just want to cover that the most important aspect of IUDs and any hormones is to track what your body is doing. You want to track any symptoms throughout your body that you have before you start and then track if you develop new symptoms, symptoms go away or get worse. Hormones affect your body in many different ways we still do not understand and you may be reacting adversely over a long period of time leading you to believe it is something else when really it is the IUD.
What is an IUD?
An IUD which stands for intra uterine device is a type of birth control used by inserting a device into your uterus by your healthcare provider.
There are generally two types in the US:
Hormonal IUD(Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, Kyleena)
These are different from a vaginal ring like the Nuvaring which is manually placed on your own into your vagina during your cycle and then removed to allow you to have your period.
The copper form of the IUDs use a small release of copper into the uterus to create an inhospitable environment for sperm and creates uterine inflammation to prevent pregnancy.
But if you’ve read my other articles you know my opinion on inflammation and by far and large we have more than enough inflammation to keep our systems running properly and fine tuned.
I don’t think its a good idea to be releasing copper into your body but if for some reason you have to use the copper IUD then it would be important to have your tissue copper and mineral levels checked. If you are already on the high end and have other mineral imbalances then this would likely add to the stress already present.
The hormonal IUDs contain a form of synthetic progestin called levonorgestrel which is often passed off as progesterone but it is not.
I want to be really clear on this; the hormones in hormonal IUDs are NOT natural progesterone.
They do not have the health benefits that natural progesterone does but they come with many side effects.
If you do not have hormonal migraines then it may be better to use the copper type in case you trigger hormonal issues.
If you are only looking at birth control as a way to control your migraines then you are way off and have been mislead.
It’s a common misnomer that if you have hormonal migraines or headaches that you should be correcting them with birth control.
Birth controls use synthetic hormones that are NOT like our natural hormones and can actually create a whole host of more pressing issues which I will talk about in the side effects section.
You may experience relief from using birth control for your migraines if the other nutrients that birth control depletes are currently at optimal levels and you have “resources to spare.” If your only migraine trigger is because of your hormonal fluctuations then using this synthetic birth control may actually provide some relief.
And this is a big but…
This does not fix the hormonal issues, will eventually deplete nutrient levels and can have extreme consequences like breast cancer and stroke.
If you have hormonal issues, you want to first find out what the exact issue is, where in the cycle the problem lies, if you just are not making enough hormones or if your ovulation time is just misplaced leading to upset in the cycle. In our clinic we correct all of these without the need for synthetic hormones.
Then you want to find out WHY this issue is happening.
Your hormones and cycle do not go out of whack for no reason and you’d know this if you’ve received our free E-book on hormonal migraines here.
IUD Side effects
Ideally we would use other methods of controlling for accidental pregnancies that do not cause inflammation and add copper or change our hormones like these IUD devices.
But that isn’t always possible and so if you do not have hormonal migraines and your hormones are fine then it would likely be better to use a copper device over a hormonal one.
Now lets talk about the side effects of something as dangerous as putting a foreign device inside of your body.
The first two and some of the most serious side effects of IUDs are perforation and expulsion:
Perforation is when the IUD gets imbedded into your uterine wall or breaks through it. This can be dangerous and is why you want a professional placing it like a gynaecologist.
Severe pelvic or abdominal pain that does not go away
Pain with intercourse
Absent strings or shorter menses
Expulsion is when your IUD gets kicked out of the uterus. You may want to have an ultrasound to find out where it went and what you will have to do to get it out. Always make sure you are screened for risk factors for these.
Hormonal IUDs have a 3-6% explusion rate and copper IUDs have a 3-10% expulsion rate in the first year.
Women with a history of heavy menorrhagic or incredibly painful dysmenorrheic periods are at a higher risk of expulsion. Same with post partum.
Side effects of progestin found in hormonal IUDs:
Altered structure of human brain
Increased risk of stroke, heart attack, cardiovascular issues
Increased breast cancer risk
Depression, anxiety and suicide risk increase
Do not protect brain health like natural progesterone
Headaches and migraines!
Increased risk of autoimmunity and digestive disorders like dysbiosis and SIBO
Lowered levels of B vitamins, Vitamin C and Zinc
Best ways for contraception versus best ways for hormonal migraines and headaches
In terms of IUDs as long as your copper levels are not in the high end of the range and your other minerals are balanced then copper may be the better option if you absolutely must have an IUD.
For hormonal migraines and headaches, birth control simply is not a safe nor effective answer.(But it is often the one given) Hormonal IUDs don’t actually address the cause of the hormonal migraines or headaches but instead just throws more hormones into the mix, with unpredictable and non specific results.
In reality, using birth control for headaches is using one of the few prescription hormone tools available to doctors but using it for something completely different and using it “off label.”
If you’ve read our free E-guide on The 5 Mistakes of Hormonal Migraines, this is not how we fix our hormones.
In our clinic we find out what the problem in the cycle is, what is contributing to the problem and then how to go about correcting it. Not using synthetics that can further deplete already low nutrient levels and lead to more serious complications in the long run.
Best IUD for migraine sufferers
I generally believe that IUDs are a better system for contraception than birth control pills as you are using much less hormone. As long as your detox pathways are functioning properly and you do not already have a hormonal imbalance then this may not break the camels back so to speak.
But it’s not the best way to fix hormonal issues and you need to be aware that the progesterone in IUDs is not natural progesterone.
At the end of the day I’ve found that nature often does it best and we need to first correct any functional problems before we go beyond and add more to the mix.
Our health is dynamic so if we can approach it with all of our dynamic factors like nutrition, hydration, sleep and stress management and have those honed in then our body responds incredibly well.
Diet, stress management, sleep and exercise are at the core of hormonal management and if hormones aren’t functioning properly, it’s more than likely these are not optimized.
The way we think, move and breathe is what gives us health and we need to honor that. We honor that by honoring our bodies.
Our bodies are honored by us listening to them and learning from the signals they give us on if we are performing better or worse.
When we can authentically listen to what the body says yes this helps it function better to and no this does not help it function better then we can enter into a space of transformative health.
This is what actually healing is and a necessary step for all of us to get our health back and become empowered with our own vitality.
If you haven’t already read the free E-guide on the 5 Mistakes of Hormonal Migraines, click here to get it now.
Holistic Health Practitioner
Mark Canadic is a writer, speaker, holistic health practitioner and migraine community leader. Read Mark’s inspiring comeback story, “My Burnout and Brain Fires that Lead me to the Root.” Feel free to send Mark a message here.