IUDs: Cheap, Safe And Effective

A new, smaller type of intrauterine contraceptive device called CS-300 is shown in this handout photo, date unknown. Researchers at The Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine are studying the CS-300. The IUD already has been approved in Europe. Now clinical trials are being conducted in the hope of winning federal approval to market it in the United States. AP

IUD's, or intrauterine devices, were at one time a very popular birth control option for American women.

But that all changed in 1976 when the Dalkon Shield was pulled from the market after being linked to thousands of uterine infections and dozens of death.

Now though, the IUD is making a comeback, says The Early Show's Dr. Mallika Marshall.

An IUD is a small "T"-shaped piece of plastic that is inserted in the uterus. The IUD stops fertilization of eggs by producing a sterile inflammatory response that kills sperm. There are some IUDs that release the hormone progesterone, which prevents fertilization by affecting how the sperm or eggs move.

The Dalkon shield had a very distinct shape, and many doctors believe that shape made the device more likely to get stuck in the uterine lining. The Dalkon Shield also had a tail, which helped keep it in place. However doctors believed that tail also caused problems. They think it may have trapped bacteria, which could cause infections and help spread sexually transmitted diseases. The new IUDs have none of these side-effects, which is why they are becoming popular again.

The ideal candidate for an IUD is a monogamous woman who doesn't plan on having children for several years, because the IUD is a device that stays inserted for several years.

The IUD has a huge advantage over the Pill or other forms of birth control such as condoms or diaphragms because you don't have to remember to take it or put it in place before intercourse. It's always there.

Women who use Depo-Provera, the hormone injection that's given every three months, may have difficulty getting pregnant for a few months after stopping the injections. A woman's fertility returns almost immediately after removing an IUD.

Plus, it's a nice option for women who want long-term birth control but don't necessarily want to undergo tubal ligation or sterilization.

Because an IUD can stay in place for five, even ten years in some cases, you pay for the insertion and occasional follow-up care, which may cost $175 to $400. In the end, this is a much less expensive than most other forms of birth control.

IUDs are certainly not for every woman. Unlike condoms, they do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, which is again why they are only recommended for monogamous women. In fact, some IUDs are marketed as "the mom's form of birth control." IUD's can also cause pelvic inflammatory disease and inflammation of the fallopian tubes.

To get an IUD, a woman schedules an appointment with her ob-gyn and if the doctor decides it's a good option, it can be inserted right in the doctor's office. It takes only a few minutes. But women need to be warned that they may experience slight cramping or spotting, both of which typically go away in a few hours.

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