Do I Need a New IUD if I Switch Sex Partners?

Switching Sex Partners - Do I Need a New IUD?
New Sexual Partner = New IUD?. Matt Dutile/Image Source/Getty Images

Switching Sex Partners... Do I Need to Get a New IUD?

You have decided to use an IUD as your birth control method. Awesome! So, now you have this small, T-shaped, flexible plastic device in your uterus -- but what does this mean if you have sex with different people? Does switching sex partners mean that you also need to switch or get a new IUD?

A great hurdle facing IUD use is that many people don’t have all the facts about this super effective birth control method.

Maybe you have been left to believe that you need to change your IUD removed if you switch sexual partners?

The Answer... No IUD Removal is Required!

Yep, the good news is that having your IUD removed or replaced is not necessary when switching sex partners. This means that if you have a new man, you do not have to have a new IUD inserted again. And it doesn't matter which IUD you have... the Mirena IUD (which continuously releases a small amount of progestin and is effective for 5 years), the Skyla IUD (progestin-releasing IUD, good for 3 years), and the ParaGard IUD (also known as Copper IUD, is non-hormonal, and can be left in place for up to 10 years) will ALL continue to work just as effectively -- no matter how many sexual partners you have.

Is This What Doctors Suggest?

Many doctors are still confused about who should be using an IUD. This is because they may be holding on to old-fashioned beliefs about IUD use.

That being said, an IUD may not be the best birth control method if you:

  • Have ever had PID (pelvic inflammatory disease).
  • Currently have an untreated pelvic infection.
  • Have a sexual partner who has more than one sexual partners.

What confuses doctors even more is that that Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Mirena, suggests that this IUD is only appropriate for women who:

  • Have had at least one child.
  • Are in a stable, mutually monogamous relationship.
  • Have no risk or history of ectopic pregnancy or pelvic inflammatory disease.

The reasoning behind these "suggestions" has nothing to do with the IUD itself. The Mirena, Skyla, and ParaGard IUDs offer no protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Because of this, doctors may choose to only recommend an IUD to women who are married or involved in a serious monogamous relationship. Plus, when Mirena was going through the FDA-aproval process, the manufacturer only conducted clinical trials on married women. This means that the could only suggest that Mirena is meant for this population.

What Else Adds to the Concern Over Switching Sex Partners and IUD Use?

There is no medical reason to replace your IUD if you switch your sex partner. Some of the confusion around this idea also stems from misinformation. You see, in the past, IUD use in younger women (without children) as well as women who had different sex partners was incorrectly linked to medical conditions like PID, infertility, and other side effects related to IUD placement. Nowadays, we know that the IUD is a safe and highly effective birth control option for women of all ages, with or without children.

There is also still some concern about an increased risk of PID with IUD use if you haven't had any children or if you keep switching sex partners. So why the concern? This is because higher rates of STDs (not IUD use) puts you at a greater risk for developing PID. Women who do not have any children tend to be younger... and younger people, in general, tend to have higher rates of STDs. Left untreated, many sexually transmitted infections can cause PID and infertility. So, it is the spreading of STDs and not IUD use that causes these problems. The Mirena and Skya IUD can actually help protect against PID because these IUDs thicken cervical mucus and decreases your monthly period flow.

BUT, Mirena and Skyla will not protect you against getting an STD.

If you are having sex with multiple partners while using an IUD, it is extremely important that you also use condoms for STD protection. After switching sex partners, it may also be a good idea that you both get tested for STDs prior to having sex. If you have both tested negative for having any STDs, and you don't want to use condoms, be absolutely sure that your partner is not having sex with anybody else before agreeing to have sex without any STD protection.

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