Revisiting the IUD for Contraception - Pros and Cons for Women

By Rachel Walden — August 12, 2011

Many women may remember news about the injuries caused by the Dalkon Shield intrauterine device, a product that caused infection and other problems in many women in the 1970s. Newer, safer IUDs are now on the market, and the contraceptive method is apparently being used more and more, reportedly rising from 2.4 percent in 2002 to 5.6 percent by 2008.

CommonHealth, a blog at Boston’s NPR affiliate WBUR, explores this rise in the recent post “Why The IUD Is On The Rise (And You Might Want One).” The author, Carey Goldberg, suggests that one reason for the rise may be the convenience of the IUD as a long-acting birth control method that has less chance of user error (compared to birth control pills that you might forget to take, for example). She also explores a bit of the history of the Dalkon Shield and discusses safety concerns about IUD use.

OBOS’s own Judy Norsigian was interviewed about the IUD option (and Goldberg nicely mentions the new 40th anniversary edition of the book, due out this October). Judy explains that like any method, there are benefits and risks associated with IUD use:

“Like every method,” she said, “it has its downsides. There’s a remote risk of embedding and perforation, but it’s small. And some women have a lot of pain, others don’t. Some women expel the IUD, others don’t. But for most women who have very heavy periods, using the [Mirena] IUD results in lighter periods and decreased bleeding at menopause. So there are benefits as well. It’s one of those things where a woman has to weigh her own priorities about what matters most to her.”

Here’s a good fact sheet on the pros and cons. The CommonHealth blog has a follow-up piece today, “10 Reasons To Get An IUD, And 5 Downsides.”

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