Friday, June 20, 2008

the new IUD and you

Last night at an activist council training at Planned Parenthood, we were discussing the health center's birth control offerings including IUDs (inter uterine devices). The director of the health center said that more and more women had been coming for IUD insertions- she seemed almost giddy stating that this was a "very good thing". She then went on to innumerate the benefits of the new IUDs. I was initially sort of stunned and felt out of the loop. To me, IUD's have always seemed medieval- a scary metal device inserted into your uterus to act like barbed wire to sperm- harsh and dangerous. She reassured us anyone could have one inserted (not just women who had given birth) and that they are quite safe (unlike the 1970's models). There are two versions currently on the market: Mirena which releases progesterone and ParaGard which uses copper. The IUD works to prevent pregnancy in two ways- 1) a chemical change to uterus to create an inhospitable environment for sperm and 2) the "T" shape of the device disrupts egg implantation onto the uterine wall. Mirena is effective for five years during which the woman does not menstruate and ParaGard is good for 12 years (but still having a monthly period). The IUD is "as effective as sterilization" (which is not 100% effective) thus making it the most effective method of birth control available. Read more about IUDs here and here.

I was intrigued- mostly I liked the idea of a non-hormonal birth control that was determined by me and that I didn't have to think about on a regular basis. On the other hand the notion of a foreign object being inserted into my body by someone else still bothers me a little bit.

Fascinating! And how exciting that, in some ways, our world of reproductive health choices seems to be expanding!

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