Intrauterine devices (IUDs), popularly known as coils, are highly efficient and reversible forms of contraception that have seen increasing use worldwide. However, despite their effectiveness, certain myths and misconceptions have proliferated, leading to unnecessary fear and hesitation in potential users.
This post will explore the myths and misconceptions surrounding IUDS, dispelling old wives’ tales about IUDs to make a safe and informed decision for your reproductive health. By learning more about the facts surrounding IUDs, you can separate truth from fiction and know your health is safe.
- IUDs are Not Suitable for Teenagers
This misconception is understandable since IUDs are long-term forms of contraception, but it is, in fact, untrue. According to a new analysis of 90,000 women with long-term contraceptives, IUDs are safe for teenagers. Most teenagers can safely use an IUD and benefit from its advantages, such as increased convenience and protection against unwanted pregnancies.
- IUD Insertion Is Painful and Infection Risks
This misconception likely stems from outdated information and experiences with earlier designs of intrauterine devices, which had a higher risk of pelvic infection. Moreover, the process of IUD insertion being potentially uncomfortable may have been misconstrued as being outright painful.
However, the reality is that the insertion of an IUD is usually mildly uncomfortable rather than painful. The process typically involves a brief period of discomfort that may be eased by taking over-the-counter pain relief in advance. Most women recover quickly, often within a few days. Whilst the risk of infection exists, it is low, particularly in the first 20 days following insertion.
- IUDs Can Migrate and Get Lost Inside the Body
Many believe an IUD can move around and get lost inside the body, blocking fallopian tubes or preventing conception. Fortunately, this is not the case. The IUD’s strings sit in the cervical canal and attach to the uterus walls. It ensures it remains securely in place regardless of movement, even during intercourse. Furthermore, IUDs are less likely to dislodge or migrate when inserted correctly.
- IUD Cause Infertility and Complications
This myth might stem from the complications associated with an IUD model used in the 1970s. This model was linked to severe Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and subsequent infertility.
However, it’s crucial to understand that modern IUDs have significantly improved and are safe.
Current evidence does not support the notion that IUDs cause infertility. The return to fertility after removing the IUD is quick, as it is reversible. If a person decides to try to become pregnant, the IUD can be removed, and fertility returns to normal almost immediately.
- IUDs Are Only for Women Who Have Given Birth
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends IUDs as the method of choice for women who have already given birth, but this doesn’t mean they are excluded from using an IUD if they haven’t. Women without prior pregnancies can also use IUDs; the overall safety profile is the same for both groups.
- IUDs Are Not Effective as a Long-Term Birth Control
Many people underestimate the IUD’s ability to provide dependable, long-term contraception, possibly due to its size and simple design.
In truth, IUDs are among the most effective long-term birth control methods available today. Depending on the type, an IUD can provide contraception for up to 3 to 10 years. Hormonal IUDs last 3 to 5 years, while a non-hormonal copper IUD can last up to 10 years.
- IUDs Cause Weight Gain and Hormonal Imbalance
The copper IUD, which doesn’t contain hormones, does not affect weight gain or hormone levels. On the other hand, hormonal IUDs contain progestin, a form of artificial progesterone, but studies have found that less than 5% show weight gain.
- IUDs Are Costly and Inaccessible
IUDs are very affordable and widely accessible. Insurance plans may cover associated costs with IUDs, making them even more affordable. Additionally, most healthcare providers offer discounts or payment plans for those who cannot afford an IUD.
- IUDs Offer No Additional Benefits Besides Contraception
Contrary to popular belief, IUDs offer a range of additional health benefits. Hormonal IUDs can help reduce heavy periods and treat endometriosis, while the copper coil can prevent cramps and menstrual pain associated with PMS. Additionally, both types of IUDs are highly effective at preventing ectopic pregnancies.
- IUD Insertion Is Complicated and Time-Consuming
IUD insertion is a relatively quick and straightforward procedure. The process takes about 20 minutes, including prep time, device insertion, and post-procedural monitoring. It is one of the quickest forms of long-term birth control available today.
- IUDs Are Not Reversible
IUDs are very easy to remove. The removal process is as quick and straightforward for hormonal IUDs as the insertion process. All it takes is a simple office visit, and the device can be removed in minutes, restoring natural fertility almost immediately. Copper IUDs may require more time for removal depending on how long they have been in place, but typically take 5-10 minutes at most.
- IUDs Are Only for Certain Lifestyles
IUDs are suitable for all lifestyles and can be for anyone who wants an effective, reliable form of long-term contraception. They are also ideal for people who do not want to take a daily pill or have trouble remembering to take it daily.
Misconceptions about IUDs persist, often based on outdated information or misunderstanding. Modern IUDs are safe, effective, and versatile methods of contraception, suitable for a wide range of individuals and lifestyles. They provide reliable long-term birth control and, in many cases, offer additional health benefits. Using an IUD should always be made in consultation with a healthcare provider based on up-to-date and accurate information. By debunking these myths, we can help more individuals decide about their reproductive health.