IUD: Most Common Myth’s: Breaking the Misconceptions

An Intrauterine Device or IUD is among the most effective birth control methods that you can use, especially when there are chances of human error with other methods such as the breaking of a condom while having sex or forgetting to ingest an oral contraceptive pill. 

An IUD is found to be 90 times more successful as a birth control method in comparison to male condoms and 45 times more successful in comparison to the contraceptive pill.  The T-shaped, tiny device is also easily reversible and long-lasting. After a physician inserts or places an IUD in your uterus, it may prevent the occurrence of pregnancy for about three to 10 years depending on the model you choose. Currently, there are four models available; three of them release a low amount of hormones gradually. The fourth model is hormone-free and it has a copper coil curled around, which creates a reaction in your body. Due to this reaction the uterus becomes toxic to sperm and fertilization doesn’t occur. 

Using an IUD can return your fertility faster after its removal. This is especially helpful if you want to conceive in the future. 

Despite all the benefits, there are lots of myths that surround the use of an IUDs. Some females believe that an IUD is approved only for older females who already had kids. Others are scared to use it as they have heard many horror stories regarding the insertion of an IUD and the pain it causes. 

Each birth control method can’t fit every woman and each one of them prefers to have a different type of contraception. However, by having enough information regarding your options for birth control and by recognizing the myths surrounding them you can choose the best birth control method. 

The following are the most common myths regarding IUDs

Myth 1: Having an IUD before having kids can put you at risk

This is far from the truth; instead, the opposite of this is true. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommend an IUD as the first choice of birth control for sexually active adolescents, as they are very effective and safe. According to them any woman who has undergone puberty and has matured sexually can use an IUD. 

Myth 2: IUD insertion is very painful

Another common myth is that an IUD insertion can be very painful. Some women believe that placing an IUD can be the most painful event of their lives. However, the ability to tolerate pain is different for every woman. Hence, an IUD insertion may be painful for some but not a big deal for others. 

Though an IUD placement is indeed unpleasant, for the majority of the women, this pain remains for a short duration. The pain may feel like a few menstrual cramps ranging from mild to severe. 

If you have any such apprehension you should discuss with your physician your tolerance to pain before getting an IUD. Most women get them inserted without any kind of problem. Moreover, you should consider the fact that a couple of minutes of pain and discomfort can give you five or more years of efficient and worry-free contraception. 

Myth 3: The IUD may fall out

Another common myth that many women believe is that their bodies can expel or throw out the IUD from their uterus. This may happen; however, it is very unlikely. It occurs in about three to five percent of the females and if it happens it will most likely happen within two to three months of getting the device placed. The expulsion of an IUD increases your risk of having an unintended pregnancy. Due to this reason physicians recommend that females use another birth control method as a backup for the initial several weeks after they get the device. 

You must be aware of what happens when in case an IUD does fall out. Sometimes, you may have a severe cramp or pass a large blood clot and the device will also come out of the uterus with it. 

In case you think that your device is no longer in its place, ask your physician to teach you the method to check the string of the device (it is a thin thread made of nylon, which hangs out of your cervix in the vagina and makes the removal of the an IUD easy). You may also ask your doctor to check the IUD for you. 

Myth 4: An IUD can cause infertility and infection

There is a history behind this rumor. In the 60s and 70s, there was an IUD on the market that was bad. It led to infertility in women. Some women lost their wombs and others were left dead. Though this IUD was removed from the market, its nightmarish legacy continues to affect the modern-day IUD. 

IUD: Most Common Myth’s: Breaking the Misconceptions

Holding an IUD birth control copper coil device in hand, used for contraception – front view

Furthermore, some physicians form part of this problem. Although data from 40 years demonstrate that current IUDs don’t increase the risk of infection in a woman and are safe to use, some physicians misinform their patients. According to a survey published in the Journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, 30 percent of the gynecologists, obstetricians, nurses, physician assistants, and family doctors believe that IUDs are unsafe for females who have never delivered a baby. 

The IUDs used presently are safe and effective and don’t lead to infections or infertility. Infection associated with the insertion of an IUD may occur probably because the IUD or instruments carry with them germs from your lower genital area. If the bacteria are normally present in your genital tract, then some mechanism eliminates or removes this contamination automatically from your uterus shortly after the device is inserted and the infection doesn’t occur. Your doctor can further reduce your risk of getting an infection by following the routine procedures to prevent infection such as the “no-touch” technique of insertion (in this technique the doctor doesn’t let the uterine sounds (instruments) or IUD touch any surface that is unsterile such as speculum, hands, tabletop or vaginal walls). 

Myth 5: The physician has to induce a uterine contraction to place an IUD in the uterus

Though the term uterine contraction is related to labor, a cramp and uterine contraction are essentially similar or same – a squeezing sensation of your uterus, a sensation, which you must have experienced before. Women get cramping or uterine contractions during periods as their cervix opens slightly to expel the menstrual blood. 

When the doctor places an IUD, they open the cervix slightly, initially to take the measurement of your uterus and then place the device. Both these activities can stretch your cervix and cause a big cramp. However, no medication is given to produce a contraction or cramp that you feel. 

Myth 6: An IUD work by inducing abortions

Some people don’t like to use an IUD as a birth control method as they have the incorrect belief that it prevents conception by inducing abortions. This is not true. In the majority of the cases, an IUD works by preventing the fertilization of an egg. The copper-containing IUD acts as a spermicide and kills or impairs the sperms so that they are unable to fertilize the egg. Progestin containing IUD causes thickening of your cervical mucus, which prevents the sperms from entering your uterus. In very rare cases, an IUD may prevent implantation and this is also considered a birth control or contraceptive effect of the IUD. 

Myth 7: An IUD is not a very effective birth control method

Some women have the incorrect belief that an IUD is not a very effective birth control method or that its birth control effects are lost only after a couple of years from the time it is placed. On the contrary, an IUD is greater than 99 percent effective. Both the copper-containing and hormonal IUDs are very effective birth control methods. They are one of the most efficient reversible birth control methods. 

The hormonal IUD prevents pregnancy in about 998 females out of 1000 females who use it during the first year. Over five years of use, about five to eight females out of 1000 females may become pregnant. You can use this IUD for up to five years. The copper-containing IUD prevents pregnancy in about 994 females out of 1000 females who use it during the first year. During the 10 years of use, about two out of 100 females may become pregnant. This IUD remains effective for about 12 years. 

Myth 8: An IUD causes health risks and side effects

Some females desire not to use an IUD as they have the incorrect belief that an IUD may cause health risks including cancer, birth defects or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and/or side effects. On the contrary, an IUD is a very safe birth control method. 

An IUD never moves to the brain, heart or any other body part outside your abdomen. Proper technique of an IUD insertion can help in preventing many problems including perforation, infection, and expulsion. 

An IUD doesn’t cause cancer in a healthy female but cancer of reproductive organs contradicts the use of an IUD as it increases the risk of perforation, bleeding and infection. If you have breast cancer, then the use of a hormonal IUD is contraindicated (should not be used). 

An IUD doesn’t increase your risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection (STIs) or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV. But, females who have a high risk of getting exposed to Chlamydia or Gonorrhea should not get it inserted. 

An IUD doesn’t increase your risk of having birth defects in the baby or having multiple pregnancies. 

Myth 9: An IUD can cause miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy 

Some women desire not to use an IUD as they have the incorrect belief that an IUD may cause a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy. The fact is that your risk of having a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy is not increased after removing the IUD. On the contrary, the risk of getting an ectopic pregnancy in a female using an IUD is much less in comparison to the risk in a female not using any birth control method. 

An IUD doesn’t lead to miscarriage after its removal. If it is placed using the correct insertion technique, IUD use may not lead to difficulty of any sort in your future pregnancies. 

Myth 10: An IUD can cause a change in the menstrual pattern that can harm your overall health

Many women don’t desire to use an IUD as they have the incorrect belief that an IUD may either stop their monthly periods (cause amenorrhea) or cause painful, more frequent, or painful bleeding during periods and this can be harmful to the overall health. The fact is that the change in menstrual pattern is not harmful. You can experience menstrual pattern changes based on the kind of IUD you are using. 

If you are using copper-containing IUD you may experience:

  • Prolonged and heavy monthly bleeding.
  • More pain and cramps during periods.
  • Irregular bleeding.

These menstrual changes are quite normal and don’t indicate any illness. These are most commonly present during the initial three to six months after inserting the IUD and lessen gradually. 

If you are using hormonal IUD you may experience irregular, prolonged, or heavy bleeding during the initial few months. After that you may experience:

  • Predictable, lighter, and regular bleeding.
  • Light, no, or infrequent monthly bleeding.

These changes in bleeding are also normal and don’t indicate any illness. 

Myth 11: An IUD can cause inconvenience while having sex

Some couples have an incorrect belief that it can cause inconvenience while having sexual intercourse, and that it may hurt the penis of the male partner causing pain, or cause pain and discomfort in the female.  The fact is that using an IUD can make you more relaxed about not having unintended pregnancies, increasing your sexual pleasure and allow both the partners to enjoy sex better. 


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