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Should Women Give the IUD Another Chance?

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Two weeks ago, Kate Klonick over at Slate wrote a compelling argument about why more young women should consider using an intrauterine device.

Klonick points out that less than two percent of women today use the reversible t-shaped intrauterine device that is inserted into the uterus as a form of contraception. Klonick attempts to counter the argument that IUDs are dangerous for women, having been linked to pelvic infection, hysterectomy and even death. While the IUD was taken off the market in the mid-1980s in the U.S, it continues to be popular in countries such as China and France. A study put out in the 1990s helped dispel the argument that forbade the IUD, arguing that the design in the 70s contributed to the dangers of the contraceptive.

Kathleen Reeves at RHRealityCheck elaborates on the mixed messages that women receive about the IUD, concluding that, "The IUD looks good to me, but I’m not married to it if the medical community has serious and justified concerns. (I do suspect that some of these concerned doctors have some reading to catch up on). In any event, it would be nice for women if doctors committed themselves to learning about IUDs so that we’re all on the same page."

Indeed, the IUD does have its benefits. Although it can be expensive initially - between $175 and $650 - and needs to be inserted by a medical professional, the IUD lasts for up to 12 years. Furthermore, they're over 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy! Considering the monthly cost and daily commitment of the birth control pill, the IUD seems more convenient to use.

Many women experience a heavier menstrual flow and cramping, particularly when using ParaGard, a hormone-less IUD, which may be difficult for some. Planned Parenthood was asked to weigh in at RHRealityCheck, confirming that women are more susceptible to infection up to three weeks after their IUD is inserted. Risks to infertility have more to do with unchecked infections than your IUD.

Ultimately, your best bet in choosing your birth control is to talk to a trusted doctor who is up to date on research about various contraceptives, and will help you separate myth from fact, outdated from updated information. You may find that you agree with Klonick and think the IUD is the best way to go.

Add a Comment4 Comments

I don't know that statistics, but I think IUD use is higher in Australia too. I have the Mirena IUD and love it for the security in birth control it offers. With the contraceptive pill I would worry about its effectivness if I was ill or on antibiotics etc. The IUD isn't affected by those things and I like that for piece of mind.

August 12, 2009 - 8:25pm
EmpowHER Guest

"Klonick points out that less than two percent of women today use the reversible t-shaped intrauterine device that is inserted into the uterus as a form of contraception."

Actually, that's less than two percent of *American" women. In Asia, for example, the percentage of women on bc using IUD's is closer to 40. Low US numbers are likely due to several factors, leftover fear from the Dalkon Shield mess in the 70's, doctors not reading up, as the Slate article mentioned, and I suspect heavy lobbying on doctors by pharmaceutical reps pushing hormonal birth control pills - pharm companies make a lot more money from pills than the long lasting IUD.

August 12, 2009 - 12:20pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for this clarification! Yes that's less than two percent of American women - while other countries such as France and China, as I mentioned, use the IUD at a much higher rate.

August 12, 2009 - 12:27pm
EmpowHER Guest

"It’s normal for there to be bacteria in the vagina, where it remains unless it’s pushed into the uterus through the cervix by medical devices, IUDS, or tampons that aren’t changed regularly. If a pathway is created, the bacteria that is harmless in the vagina can become an infection in the uterus. It’s common for vaginal bacteria to travel up the string into the uterus and fallopian tubes, causing infections and a host of other problems and unnecessary treatments, including foreign-body inflammation/reaction, adhesions, occlusion (blocking) of the fallopian tubes, ectopic pregnancies, birth deformities, sterility, castration, and even death, if the problems go untreated." From THE H WORD, by Nora W. Coffey and Rick Schweikert

August 12, 2009 - 8:51am
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