Nearly half of Chinese women have one. In Europe, it's the most popular form of long-term contraception. But while the intrauterine device (IUD) has long reigned supreme as the world's most widely used form of birth control, you'd be hard-pressed to find an American woman under 40 who's familiar with it. In the US, less than two percent of women use the IUD, which has been overlooked as a mainstream birth control option due to a combination of ignorance and persistent myths about its safety. Best Birth Control Options
If you haven't though seriously about the IUD, consider these benefits:
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1. Rare complications. Today, Dalkon Shield sounds like the name of a Gossip Girl character, not the name of a faulty IUD model that caused miscarriages, sterility, and even death among American women in the 1970s. But though the stigmas against the IUD continue to persist, medical science has since evolved and using an IUD today is no more dangerous than giving birth. IUDs still carry some risks, such as the possibility of uterine perforation and pelvic inflammatory disease (both quite rare). The latter tends to develop in IUD users who contract sexually transmitted infections and leave them untreated. For that reason, most gynecologists recommend the IUD only to women in long-term, sexually monogamous relationships.
2. Perfect use. The IUD takes the guesswork out of contraception. Once inserted in your uterus by your gynecologist, the IUD is effective for five to ten years, depending on the variety you get. With no pills to take or patches to replace, human error is eliminated from the equation: less than .01 percent of IUD users get pregnant annually, an efficacy rate on par with sterilization. Compare that to the Pill, which is only effective 92-97 percent of the time (given typical use) and the condom, which is effective 86 percent of the time. Is the Pill Harmful?
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3. Compatibility with changing lifestyle needs. The IUD is the most easily reversible long-term birth control option. A report by the Guttmacher Institute notes that "IUDs may be welcome choices for many women, particularly those for whom the systemic effects of the pill, the patch and the ring are a concern, and those who want to delay having children for many years or think they have completed their family." Once removed, the IUD's effect immediately ceases, so you can get pregnant again as soon as you want. Compare that to Depo-Provera which can affect fertility for up to 18 months after you get the shot.
4. Affordability. The IUD has a hefty upfront cost ($300-500) plus the fee for the insertion, but you will likely only be responsible for a co-pay if you have insurance. Birth control pills, on the other hand, can easily cost over $200 annually. The IUD is good to go for five years, which makes it the most inexpensive form of birth control available on the market. Jagged Little Pill: Paying For Birth Control