In bygone eras, the only possible way for a woman to prevent pregnancy was to abstain from what precedes it. However, it all changed with a breakthrough that occurred in 1909 at the hands of a German physician, Richard Richter.
This man is attributed to be the first to discover intrauterine contraception. By the name itself, we may understand that this has to do with placing something inside a woman’s uterus to prevent conception of life. At the time, Richter did not use copper but a small ring made from silkworm’s gut.
The same was capped with thin plastic called celluloid. Later in 1967, Jamie Zipper and Howard Tatum used a T-shaped plastic with a portion of exposed copper for their intrauterine device (IUD). Over the years, several companies have produced copper-based IUDs to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 10.4% of women (aged 15-49) in the US use some type of intrauterine contraception. Even with such massive figures, the question of the hour is whether such devices are safe to use. This article will weigh the pros against the cons to understand if intrauterine contraception is a medical breakthrough or blunder.
Comparing the Pros and Cons of IUDs
Listed below are both pros and cons of an intrauterine device. For those new to birth control and still exploring their options, it’s best to compare both sides for an informed decision.
Seamlessly Fit into Your Body
As far as the convenience factor goes, an IUD is seldom a problem. In most cases, these devices are extremely tiny, only about an inch long. Once it is securely inserted and placed inside the uterus, the same will stay for as long as the woman wants.
Depending on the IUD being used, the device can remain inside the body for 3 to 12 years. When the woman is ready to have a child, she can have the device removed. One thing to remember is that the IUD usually has two tiny strings extending through the cervix into the vagina. The woman must check periodically to ensure the strings remain in their position.
May Have Severe Side Effects
Now this is the part where matters become concerning. Though most women respond well to IUDs, some may develop issues like spotting or pain. Others may experience heavy vaginal discharge or excessive bleeding during their monthly courses.
Even upon removal, the device may lead to serious problems. Let’s take the example of Teva Pharmaceuticals’ copper-based non-hormonal intrauterine device. Many women have recently complained that the ParaGard IUD is defective and broke upon removal. This led to injuries like cervical perforation for which a Paragard lawsuit has been filed.
According to TorHoerman Law, this litigation is currently in its pre-trial stages. It is a growing lawsuit with over 1,800 cases already filed. Some were so extreme that the woman required additional painful surgeries or hysterectomy. This is one reason to think twice before using intrauterine contraception.
Efficacy at Par with Abstinence
It is indeed true that the only way to prevent pregnancy with 100% success is to not participate in sexual activity. However, intrauterine devices are touted to have an efficacy rate of 99%. This means only 1 out of 100 women have a chance of getting pregnant with this method of birth control.
This is because of the process involved in preventing conception through this device. It completely blocks sperm from fertilizing an egg. Not only that, but some devices even prevent the egg from implanting in the uterus. Hence, there’s hardly a chance of going wrong.
Expert Assistance Needed
Another drawback of intrauterine contraception is that it cannot be self-administered. In other words, a woman cannot buy an IUD from a drugstore and place it inside her uterus. Albeit a matter of a few seconds, the administration process requires an OB/GYN specialist.
The doctor will run a check to know the uterus’ position and size. Then, using an instrument called the speculum, they will place the IUD inside the womb. Some mild cramping is expected after the insertion.
However, persistent pain is not normal and must be addressed immediately. Likewise, a woman must seek expert help to have the device removed.
When we place the benefits of IUDs against the risks involved, the only conclusion is that a woman must choose her battles wisely. Planned Parenthood may vouch for this form of birth control, but every woman owes herself a careful and healthy choice.
Other alternatives exist such as a cervical cap, sponge, spermicides, vaginal gels, etc. In the final analysis, are IUDs a medical breakthrough? In a sense, yes, as their contraception efficacy is unmatched, but as far as the risks are concerned, they lean on the side of blunder.