Why An IUD Wasn’t Right For Me
During my pregnancy with my fourth child, I researched birth control methods, preparing for the inevitable questions I would get from the public/my doctor/everyone I see because I have gone above the “normal” limit of children.
One of the most popular methods that popped up for moms like me were IUDs, intrauterine devices.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently recommended that sexually activate teens use intrauterine devices (IUDs) or sub-dermal implants as a birth control method, deeming them safe, even for adolescents.
But the idea of implanting birth control in my body was a decision I didn't want to take lightly, so I did my homework.
First of all, let's take a look at what IUDs actually are–there are two different types of IUDs: hormonal and copper IUDs.
How do they work?
According to the American Association of Reproductive Health, hormonal IUDs work by first releasing an artificial version of progesterone into a woman's body, called progestin. Because progestin is increased when a woman is pregnant, the hormone acts to mimic pregnancy in the body, causing the ovaries to stop releasing eggs. The hormones also thickens mucus in the cervix to stop sperm from reaching the egg. As a third and final form of contraception, the lining of the uterus also is thickened, preventing implantation in the uterus if an egg happens to get fertilized.
Copper IUDs, on the other hand, don't release hormones, but act primarily as a sperm repellant. Copper is a natural antimicrobial and as such, repels the sperm. The repellent effects of the copper may also repel an egg if it happens to get fertilized, which is why it can be prescribed as an emergency contraceptive as well.
What are the benefits of IUDs?
Obviously, IUDs are convenient–there are no pills to take and they can be conducive to a more spontaneous sex life. They are also touted as highly effective, with less than 1 in 100 women getting pregnant with proper IUD use. They also can remain in place for several years at a time and if you make the decision to have another baby, can be removed easily with no downtime to start trying to conceive again.
What are the drawbacks to IUDS?
The most common complaint I came across from IUD users were the side effects of heavy bleeding, cramping, and pain. But the complaint that worried me the most were the noted dangers with copper IUDs in particular–especially in what happens if you get pregnant on the IUD. Almost everyone I talked to, including my doctor, had a horror story about women getting pregnant on the IUD and how dangerous it can be, for both her and her baby. Many times, removing the IUD if a woman gets pregnant could abort the fetus and/or lead to bleeding to the mother, so it's left in, but that's also a danger that can lead to shock, sepsis, and death.
And after I read the official pamphlet that came with the IUD brochure, I decided an IUD was not going to be in my future. I wasn't comfortable with the thought of having a device in my body all of the time, especially because it requires checks to make sure it's in place and knowing how fertile I am, it would be just my luck to get pregnant on it.
I'm glad I took the time to look into all of the options and while the sound of a convenient, hassle-free birth control definitely sounded appealing, ultimately, an IUD was not for me.
How about you? Do you use an IUD?