Why Does The IUD Need To Make A Comeback?
Since the 1970s, IUDs have gotten a bad reputation for infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. The new IUD is safer, but unfortunately, it is the most underutilized method of birth control for teens and women in their twenties.
In fact, IUDs are more reliable (read: harder to screw up) than almost any other birth control method. Doctors insert a copper (or polyurethane, if it’s hormonal) IUD through the cervix into the uterus, and it stays there for the next 5-10 years, or until the woman wants to remove it. For this reason, any user error is extremely unlikely, which is why IUDs are 99.7-99.9% effective in contraception. With odds like that, it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to discourage their use. …… However, there are some stubborn barriers surrounding IUDs that discourage women from obtaining them. Some people still believe that IUDs can lead to an increased risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. While there is some truth to this, the risk is much lower than older models with cotton strings, which can lead to bacterial growth and infection. The newer models have nylon threads that stop the growth of bacteria. The most unfortunate thing is that people think doctors won’t place IUDs in people who don’t have children yet. The truth is that doctors are hesitant to place IUDs in women who don’t have children because it’s tricky. The tight cervix makes it difficult to pass the device, and this can be painful for the patient if the provider doesn’t take the time to use a local anesthetic. If you want an IUD, take the time to find a doctor who is really supportive and honest in answering all your questions. I have heard anecdotal reports of doctors trying to convince patients to use birth control pills or patches instead, and later admitting that they don’t want to implant an IUD because it’s hard to do.
With that in mind, statistically, IUDs are still the safest and most effective birth control method available today. Sure, they aren’t for everyone, but in the long run they are low maintenance, efficient, inexpensive, and available at the right clinic (Planned Parenthood!) or available for free when the right insurance is available. If you’re not happy with your current birth control method, or are intimidated by the myths, you might consider discussing this method with your doctor at your next visit.
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