Should we all be rushing to get copper IUDs?

Should we all be rushing to get copper IUDs?

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You may have seen a meme floating around the internet after November 8th, urging women to get birth control that will “outlast a Trump presidency.” While it’s true that a copper IUD can be safely used for 10-12 years, is it really so urgent to get one right now? And are they right for everyone?

Copper IUDs (intrauterine devices) are nearly 100% effective at preventing pregnancies, and I have written about them in the past as a good public health initiative to decrease abortion rates. They’re controversial amongst the religious right because some consider IUDs to be less contraception, more abortifacient. This is because of a debate about when conception truly begins- most doctors agree that conception begins when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, while members of some religious groups believe that conception begins when an egg is fertilized. (This belief was at the crux of the infamous Hobby Lobby case). In cases in which IUDs do not stop sperm from fertilizing an egg, they are still effective at making the uterus inhospitable to a fertilized egg.

Most of the time, however, copper IUDs are not at all abortifacient. Copper kills sperm, and so there is rarely an opportunity for an egg to become fertilized. Because of this, there is never an opportunity for one to know how, exactly, the IUD prevented pregnancy- just that it did prevent an unwanted pregnancy, and did so effectively.

Despite their impressive record, however, copper IUDs are not very widely used by young women. The median age of the copper IUD user is 30. Many of the women who use it get it implanted directly after having a child, because of the fear of insertion pain which can be extremely different in every case. Copper IUDs like Paraguard also have the potential for side effects like spotting, cramps, inflammation, or even expelling the IUD. Some of these symptoms are more likely to occur in young women, or women who have not yet had children. This may serve as a deterrent.

Delaware and Colorado currently offer programs discounting long acting contraception for young women. I’ve written about the success of Colorado’s program in the past. Despite this, there are certainly things to think about before embarking on a ten-year journey with an IUD. Make sure that your doctor knows all of your concerns before making a rash decision based on the results of the election.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/heres-why-hobby-lobby-thinks-iuds-are-like-abortions/284382/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/05/12/why_aren_t_more_young_women_choosing_iuds.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/paragard/basics/risks/prc-20013048

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/11/11/501611813/women-rush-to-get-long-acting-birth-control-after-trump-wins

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4 thoughts on “Should we all be rushing to get copper IUDs?

  1. After the election, I have heard many conversations about this and have read up on it as well. I am happy you have urged women to think rationally about the decision to get an IUD as oppose to getting an IUD out of fear for the future of women’s health. It is truly something to think about.

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  2. Truthfully, I didn’t know about or had never heard of an IUD. I find it interesting how you report the different beliefs of fertilization based on the medical field versus religious groups, and how an IUD is perceived by the two different groups. I think using IUD’s would be effective in lowering abortion rates, but I would really like to know more about the long-term affects (I’m sure inserting copper in your body has to have some kind of negative effect). Additionally, I think it’s a bit dramatic if women use IUD for the simple reason of avoiding having a child during Trump’s era…

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  3. I’m on a different birth control, but honestly I’m not rushing to get an IUD precisely because I’m worried about insertion pain, and I’m worried about complications rising from having something in me for so long. While I’m concerned about having access to birth control under a Trump presidency (dear god, I’m so scared for Planned Parenthood), I’m riding on the hope that there will be enough people out there to demand to their Congressmembers to not create laws that will restrict resources to women’s health in this way.

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  4. Being a daughter of two clinical nurses, I have been fortunate enough to have open birth control education from my parents. I found you article interesting as it did present polarizing views and different IUD/birth control/fertilization beliefs. Cultural differentiations are a big dilemma and fact when it comes to societal issues like birth control. I agree that IUD’s lower abortion rates and unnecessary infant/mother deaths. Personally, I do not use the IUD due to health reasons; however, running to your nearest PP before Mr. Trump sits in office because one is afraid he will take it away may be overdramatic. I can also see the other side — where Trump may take away IUD’s/birth control — which opens up a bigger issue which his supporters are in denial of: his lack of respect/belief for women’s rights.

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