After decades of having a bad reputation, the IUD is finally making its well-deserved comeback. The reputation of the IUD was greatly tainted after a scarring episode of one of the first IUDs released on the market in 1971. This nightmarish looking IUD was called the Dalkon Shield and was released without proper testing, leading to over 300,000 lawsuits filed against the company. The main issue with this IUD was the braided, spongy string that hung down into the vagina (an environment filled with bacteria) and led up into the uterus (which contains no bacteria). This made for a nice, easy trail allowing the bacteria to climb up into the uterus. When bacteria enters the uterus it can lead to serious health problems, including permanent infertility and risks to pregnancies.
This incident, however unfortunate, was but one faulty product and sadly managed to turn millions of North American women off one of the most effective and convenient methods of birth control available. The pill, which is exponentially more popular than the IUD, is only 91% effective at preventing pregnancy with typical use, whereas the IUD is 99.8% effective.
Although the popularity of the IUD is now on the rise, many women are still quite tentative to consider it as an option, as they are under certain misconceptions and lingering rumors about the long discontinued Dalkon Shield. Some of these common rumors include:
1. IUDs cause Infection and Infertility
Although, as we discovered above, the discontinued Dalkon Shield was known to cause serious issues such as infertility, loss of women’s uteruses, and even death, modern day IUDs are very different from this model and do NOT cause infection or infertility. Multiple studies conducted by The World Health Organization (WHO) involving thousands of women, have collected files full of evidence to disprove this rumor, concluding that in fact, there is no increased risk of pelvic infection or infertility for women using an IUD compared to women using other forms of birth control (excluding the use of condoms, as they protect against sexualy transmitted infections).
2.Your IUD could fall out
While there is a very slim chance that your body could reject and expel your IUD, this is extremely rare and happens in only 2-8% of cases. If an IUD were to be expelled, this would most likely happen within the first 3 months after insertion. Doctors recommend checking to make sure that the strings of the IUD are in place every few weeks and to have a checkup conducted by your doctor every year to check the placement of your device. The chances of IUD expulsion are higher if the IUD is inserted shortly after childbirth or pregnancy.
3. Your IUD will interfere with intercourse
The IUD itself is placed high up inside the uterus, far away from the vagina and should not be felt during intercourse. However, the strings which hang from the IUD will run through the cervix and should be cut short enough so that they can rest, tucked behind the cervix. Therefore, both the strings and the device itself are tucked neatly away and should not be felt my you or your partner. Furthermore, even if the strings are not cut quite as short (some doctors like to keep them a bit longer so they are easier to check) they are soft enough as to not be a bother. If the stings are causing issues, you can request that your doctor shorten the strings.
4. Having an IUD inserted is excruciatingly painful
False! Although some women will complain about the pain, most only feel slight discomfort for a few moments during the procedure. Of course all women have different pain tolerances, and some may find it more painful than others, however, after the device is inserted, it should be no more painful than period cramps. If you have never had a vaginal childbirth, the cervix has evidently never been stretched, and therefore during the procedure the doctor will open up the cervix slightly. This process feels like a sharp pinching and lasts for only a couple seconds. If you have anxiety about getting your IUD inserted you may want to discuss the possibility with your doctor of being given a local, or even general, anesthesia before the procedure.
5. You should not get an IUD if you haven’t had children
This s far from true and in fact many health care associations now recommend IUDs as a primary option for preventing pregnancy in adloecents who are sexauly active, as they are both effective and safe. Notably, The American Academy of Pediatricians says that “the first-line contraceptive choice for adolescents who choose not to be abstinent is a Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC)” otherwise known as the IUD.