Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Debunking Myths about the IUD

By Anna GrosshansPublished February 22, 2015

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For years, the IUD has gotten a bad rap. With the medical community recommending the IUD as one of the most effective forms of birth control, it's time to address and debunk some of these misleading myths.
By Anna Grosshans, 2/22/2015

For years, the Intrauterine Device (IUD) has gotten a bad rap.  It's time to change that.  The American Pediatric Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have recommended the IUD as one of the most effective, safe birth control options on the market.  It's significantly more effective than the Pill and other popular methods, and it's much easier to use.  Even better, IUDs can last for 3-12 years.  That means that once it's in place, a woman doesn't even have to think about birth control until she's ready to have it removed.  

The state of Colorado recently implemented a program to increase the availability of long-acting contraceptives like the IUD to young women at no cost.  As a result, the state saw a 40 percent drop in the teen birth rate and an overall $42.5 million decrease in healthcare costs related to teen births.  The IUD is becoming more popular, but there are still a lot of misleading rumors about it. It can get pretty confusing, so I'm here to help you sort through the clutter.

MYTH 1:  The IUD is dangerous.  Some women worry that an IUD will give them an infection and pose other health risks.  This myth stems from the Dalkon Shield, an IUD from the ‘70s that was poorly designed and increased women's risk of infection.  The Dalkon Shield was taken off the market decades ago, though, and all of the IUDs available today are just as safe as other methods of birth control.

MYTH 2: IUDs cause abortions.  Ok, I don't even know where this one came from.  Somehow, conservative politicians have planted this myth in political discourse, confounding medicine with ideology.  So, repeat after me: IUDs do not cause abortions.  IUDs are birth control.  They prevent pregnancies.  End of story.

MYTH 3:  IUD placement is a surgical procedure.  Nope!  Getting an IUD takes no more than a quick and easy trip to the doctor.  You can be in and out of the office in just a few minutes. It basically feels like a strong period cramp when the doctor or nurse practitioner inserts the IUD into the uterus.  After that, you're good to go for several years (or until you decide to have it removed).

MYTH 4: IUDs are only for women who have already had a child.  This myth came about because Mirena was originally only tested on women who had already given birth to one or more children. Because of this, physicians were hesitant to prescribe Mirena for young women and those who had never borne a child.  In 2012, however, the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended the IUD for teens and young women.  What's more, the newest IUD, Skyla, was developed specifically with young women in mind.

IUDs are the gold-standard of modern birth control.  Let's spread the word.