Myth Busters: IUD Birth Control
An Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a reversible, long-term method of birth control. An IUD, sometimes referred to as intrauterine contraception (IUC), is a small device that sits in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
Despite IUDs being an effective form of birth control, many misconceptions exist. Dr. Lesley Hawkins, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Humber River Health, has provided useful insight to assist in debunking these myths.
Myth: IUDs cause infertility.
IUDs do not harm future fertility. However, they are 99.2 to 99.8 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy while they are being used! Once an IUD is removed, fertility returns right away.
Myth: IUDs raise the risk of ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic pregnancy is a pregnancy that is not in the proper position in the uterus. Overall, IUDs do not raise the risk of ectopic pregnancy. In very rare situations, if a person becomes pregnant with an IUD in place, that pregnancy has a higher chance, about 15 to 50 per cent, of being ectopic, than the standard risk of ectopic pregnancy, which is one to two per cent. However, as IUDs are highly effective at preventing pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy with an IUD is still extremely rare. If you are using an IUD, your absolute risk of ectopic is actually lower than the general population.
Myth: IUDs will have harmful effects on your menstrual period.
IUDs often change the menstrual period, but this is not harmful. Copper IUDs can increase flow or cramps during periods in some people. Hormonal IUDs help periods become lighter and less painful. Periods may even safely disappear while using a hormonal IUD.
Myth: You cannot get an IUD if you have never been pregnant.
This is a myth! You can use an IUD as a method of birth control even if you have never been pregnant.
Myth: An IUD can get lost in your body.
This is a myth! A rare complication of IUD insertion is known as perforation, which is when the IUD passes through the uterine wall into the abdomen. In these cases, laparoscopic surgery is needed to remove it. The IUD is not lost.
Myth: An IUD will bother your partner during sex.
Occasionally, the strings of an IUD can bother a partner, but this requires a simple fix. See your healthcare provider to have the strings trimmed.
For additional resources and information on sexual and reproductive health, visit sexandu.ca.