Years ago the intrauterine device, or IUD, fell from favor as a means of birth control because of its reported side effects. But now the IUD may be making a comeback of sorts, winning an endorsement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
In an official position, the ACOG now says the IUD is a suitable birth control device for all healthy adult and adolescent women.
Many women stopped using the IUD after many health experts blamed it for raising the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in serious complications. The device was blamed for infertility in some women.
But new recommendations published in the ACOG Practice Bulletin say the risks are very small. Other benefits, doctors say, outweigh those risks.
According to Dr. Adam Jacobs of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York, the biggest benefit of an IUD is that it is safe and cost effective. He says the new view of the IUD is the result of a rethinking of ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
Currently, only an estimated five to six percent of women use an IUD, but the ACOG says in the future, it expects gynecologists will begin recommending it to more of their patients.
Up front cost
The upfront cost of an IUD can be expensive, but once inserted by a health care provider, the small T-shaped device will last a decade or more. According to Planned Parenthood, it works by affecting the way sperm move, preventing them from joining with an egg. If sperm cannot join with an egg, pregnancy cannot happen.
“Certain conditions increase the risk of side effects,” Planned Parenthood said on its website. “Talk with your health care provider about your health and whether an IUD is likely to be safe for you. There are many other methods of birth control that may be safe for you if you cannot use an IUD.”