IUD Safety Update

By Hic et nunc (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Health advocates for women tend to be big proponents of the intrauterine device, also known as an IUD. There are many reasons why advocates favor IUDs and these include convenience, cost and a high rate of successful protection against pregnancy.

These small t-shaped contraceptive devices are inserted into the uterus by a trained health care professional, an IUD prevents pregnancy by keeping the sperm and egg from joining. An IUD is very effective birth control and it is also the most cost-effective long term contraceptive option available for women. Getting an IUD inserted is a simple procedure which can be done in the convenience of a doctor’s office in a few minutes.

IUD vs. Birth Control Pill

While there is information to suggest IUDs are growing in popularity, the birth control pill is still the most commonly used method of contraception used by women of child bearing age.

Dalkon Shield

Many women still remember the dangers of the Dalkon Sheild from the early 1970s. The Dalkon Shield was an IUD developed by Dr. Hugh Davis, MD of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The shape of the Dalkon Shield made it difficult to remove. In 1974, shortly after the device was released the Food and Drug Administration advised the manufacturer to withdraw it from the market. In 1983, the FDA advised all women currently using the Dalkon Shield to have it removed. Due to the device being made with a multifilament string, it was likely the device allowed bacteria to get into the uterus and cause serious pelvic infections.

The IUDs of Today Are Much Safer

It’s not at all uncommon for women of today to have a mother, aunt or other female relative who had a bad experience with a Dalkon Shield IUD. The IUDs of today are much safer than the ones used in the past. In 2012, a survey found that about 30 percent of OB-GYNs, family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners working in family planning, believed IUDs weren’t safe.

Non-Hormonal & Hormonal Options

Today, a woman has a choice as to whether to use a hormonal or non-hormonal IUD. There are two brands of IUDs in the U.S. that are hormonal based and these include Mirena and Skyla. Hormonal IUDs release a small amount of progestin, while the ParaGard IUD is hormone-free. Copper IUDs (like ParaGard) don’t use hormones. A hormonal IUD is a better option for women who have problems with the pill and it is a good alternative to discuss with a healthcare provider.

IUDs are Safe & Reversible

The IUDs of today are much safer than the options women had in the 1970s and early 1980s. Having an IUD inserted gives a woman long-term birth control protection which can be effective for 2-12 years. After an IUD is removed in a simple procedure, a woman’s fertility will immediate return. Unlike birth control pills, the IUD doesn’t suppress or stop ovulation and most women’s normal menstrual cycles will return within a month.


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