Sammy Nickalls
March 26, 2016 7:00 am
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Some of us have had our periods for decades, but are still mystified about what’s going on down there and why. In the new HelloGiggles series “Period Talk,” we’ll ask gynecologists our biggest questions about all things period-related and finally get the answers to what is really going on . . . because everyone should be up-to-date on that time of the month! Our next question  is for those who use an IUD. . .

What happens to my uterine lining when I have an IUD? Is all that blood and tissue just sitting in my uterus?

Many people who use IUDs — which stands for “intrauterine device”— see lighter (and sometimes, absent!) periods as a HUGE upside. However, it can feel pretty strange to have your period for a long time and then suddenly not have one anymore. What happens to your endometrium when you’re using an IUD? Does all that blood and tissue build up forever and ever in your uterus without getting released?!

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No, no, no! You can take a deep breath, because the lining doesn’t just stay there in your uterus — it actually becomes thinner, explained Baltimore OB/GYN Dr. Lindsay Appel. “The progesterone-only IUDs (like the Mirena and Skyla) release a steady state of progesterone which causes the endometrium, the lining of the uterus, to become very thin,” Appel told HelloGiggles. “In some people, the lining becomes so thin that there is very little endometrial tissue to be shed each month, so periods become lighter or go away altogether. This is a normal effect of the IUD and does not harm your uterus or endometrium in any way. When the IUD is removed, your typical menstrual cycle should resume and the endometrium will thicken again.”

So, no, your uterine lining doesn’t just build up for eternity inside of you, added Linda Nicoll, MD, Assistant Professor of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “In the case of a hormonal IUD, the absence of menses does not represent any buildup of blood and tissue inside the body,” she told HelloGiggles. “It just means that the uterine lining has remained thin (and normal) and that no shedding is needed. In this setting, not getting a period with a hormonal IUD is normal and healthy.”

However, board-certified gynecologist Dr. Felice Gersh of Integrative Medical Group of Irvine highlights that this only applies with hormonal IUDs. “If you have a copper IUD, which does not contain any hormone-mimicking chemicals, there should be no disruption to your natural cycle,” she told us. “If you are not getting your period, that should be investigated.”

Read more from the HelloGiggles series Period Talk:

This is the best birth control to manage cramps

This is why your boobs get so sore before your period

The surprising reason you get constipated during your period

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