Wednesday, September 2, 2015

IUDs - Why Worry?

I've heard a lot about IUDs in the last year - they prevent teen pregnancy, they're popular with young women, and they're the top choice of gynecologists.

Unfortunately, I've heard less about the health risks:

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:
• 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. 
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.

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.

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