Unfortunately, I've heard less about the health risks:
- Infection - 0.97% of women, that is, just under one woman in every hundred who get an IUD, get an infection during the insertion process. Women who use an IUD and then develop sexually transmitted infections face higher risks of pelvic inflammatory disease, and subsequent infertility.
- Perforation - I think it goes without saying that I do not want to deal with uterus perforation, not to mention subsequent perforation of nearby organs. One woman in every thousand who use an IUD has to deal with this, and that is a risk I wouldn't want to take.
- For hormonal IUDs (Mirena) - Mirena is a progestin-only IUD, and has many side effects typically associated with hormonal contraception, including high blood pressure, nausea, depression, and ovarian cysts.
I've also heard very little about how IUDs work - rather than preventing ovulation, IUDs primarily work by making the making the uterus hostile to sperm, and hostile to the fertilized egg. The Mirena's brochure states that
Mirena may work in several different ways. It may:To clarify, this means that in many cases neither ovulation nor fertilization is prevented. Instead, a fertilized egg, the beginning of a new human life, already complete with unique DNA from his or her mother and father, is prevented from implanting to the uterus. This isn't contraception - it's abortion.
• Thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from entering your uterus
• Inhibit sperm from reaching or fertilizing your egg
• Make the lining of your uterus thin.
Mirena may stop the release of your egg from your ovary, but this is not the way it works in most cases. Most likely the above actions work together to prevent pregnancy.
This is one of the reasons IUDs start working right away - or even retrospectively since they can be started as a means of emergency contraception. According to Planned Parenthood, "A copper-releasing IUD (ParaGard®) can be insertedwithin five days of unprotected intercourse as a method of EC" and the emergency insertion reduces the risk of pregnancy up to 99%.
Finally, I've heard very little about the risks to mother and child if an accidental pregnancy occurs while using an IUD. Both the Paragard and Mirena brochures state plainly that pregnancy while using an IUD, can be "life threatening" and "result in loss of pregnancy or fertility."
I think the way we discuss IUDs, focusing on their effectiveness at separating sex and reproduction rather than their serious health risks and abortive mechanisms, says a lot about what society has decided to prioritize, and it certainly isn't women and children.