Intrauterine devices (IUD) are long-term birth control devices that are implanted in the uterus. The FDA has approved five brands of IUDs so far. But even though millions of U.S. women have been using them with success, the devices are still controversial.
For instance, Bayer’s IUD Mirena was hit with over 2,000 lawsuits by 2018. IUD users accused the drugmaker of downplaying or even hiding the device’s side effects. So, before getting an IUD, you should know what to expect.
5 Things to Know Before Getting an IUD
- How do IUDs Work?
IUDs are small, T-shaped birth control devices that a doctor inserts into a woman’s uterus. There are two types of IUDs on the U.S. market: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. The only FDA-approved copper IUD brand is ParaGard. The hormonal devices accepted in the U.S. are Kyleena, Liletta, Skyla, and Mirena.
Copper IUDs prevent pregnancies by releasing copper ions in the uterus and the Fallopian tubes. This way, the device creates a toxic environment for sperm. In some cases, the IUD may trigger an immune response. As a result, the fertilized egg cannot latch onto the uterus.
This tiny detail is important since human life begins with conception. And many users may have a problem with their IUDs causing spontaneous abortions without them even knowing it. This is why many Christian employers have refused to offer IUD coverage to their female employees.
Hormonal IUDs release the hormone progestin to thicken the mucus in the cervix and slow down sperm cells. This way they prevent the cells from reaching the egg, suppress ovulation and keep fertilized eggs from attaching to the uterus. The same moral issues apply with hormonal IUDs as with copper IUDs.
- How Do You Put an IUD In?
You cannot insert the IUD yourself. You’ll need an ob/gyn to do it. A doctor will put the IUD into your uterus via the cervix. But for that, he or she will have to hold the vagina open and soften the cervix. Local anesthesia may be needed.
- Is It Painful?
You may experience mild to moderate pain when the IUD is inserted into your uterus. Few women experience real pain during the procedure. Also, you may experience period-like cramps for several days after the insertion of the device. The cramps may happen as the body tries to adjust to the device.
Doctors recommend having at least one baby before using an IUD. After the first pregnancy, the cervix widens. As a result, the procedure should be less painful.
- Do IUDs Fail?
IUDs are some of the most effective birth control devices, with only one in 100 women being at risk of getting pregnant. By contrast, condoms and the pill have 18% and 9% failure rate, respectively.
The failure rate for IUDs soars when the devices expire. It is best to get them removed before the expiration date. You may get pregnant with an IUD. But the pregnancy should be either an ectopic pregnancy or a miscarriage. If the pregnancy is healthy, get the IUD out because it may lead to tremendous problems later on.
You may need to replace the IUD after 3 to 12 years, depending on the brand used. Copper IUDs offer up to 10 – 12 years of continuous service. Hormonal IUDs expire after 3 to 6 years.
- Are There Any Risks?
The major downside of IUDs is that they do not protect you against STIs. What’s more, both copper and hormonal IUDs come with their fair share of potential risks and complications. And manufacturers often fail to report them.
IUDs’ possible risks and complications:
- IUDs may perforate the uterus and/ or cervix. (Defective Mirenas had this issue.)
- IUDs may fall out.
- IUDs may move up and end up in the abdomen
- IUDs may lead to painful intercourse and bleeding.
- IUDs may cause severe infections.
- IUDs may make cancer worse. (There’s no evidence that they may cause the disease.)
- Some IUDs are not MRI-compatible.
- Hormonal IUDs may cause severe migraines, breakouts, mood swings, cramps, irregular bleeding, and/or abnormal discharges.
The Mirena IUD may cause a condition known as False Brain Tumor, or Pseudotumor Cerebri (PTC). (This condition may cause severe vision impairment and migraines.) Mirena maker Bayer has failed to inform users about some of these issues and downplayed the risks. If you believe that your Mirena IUD is behind one of these problems, learn more about what happens during a Mirena IUD lawsuit. Before contacting a personal injury attorney, though, talk with a doctor. Make sure that the symptoms are tied to a (defective) IUD product.