In the current issue of The Women’s Health Activist, coming to mailboxes across the country this month, Ginny Cassidy-Brinn shares what she learned when she took a new look at intrauterine devices. Check out an excerpt below, or read the full article on the NWHN website for her take on the challenges and benefits of this important contraceptive option.
Not Your Mother’s IUD: Benefits and Risks of Modern IUDs
I had an Intrauterine Devices (IUD) in the 70s, when a feminist outcry exposed serious problems caused by the Dalkon Shield IUD, including infertility, uterine perforation, and death. So, I was skeptical when a young feminist told me she loved her IUD and said: “For my generation, IUDs represent freedom and empowerment.” What had happened in the 40 years between my experience and hers, I wondered? Had the IUD really been transformed?
What I found when I looked into these questions was not simple. Thanks to persistent advocacy by women’s health activists, today’s IUDs are safer and more popular, and seem to have fewer negative effects than those I knew in the 70s. But the IUD’s place in the array of modern contraception is not without problems.
For many women, the IUD can be a great choice. It is convenient and effective, doesn’t require women to do anything for it to work, and doesn’t interfere with sexual spontaneity. Once inserted, an IUD is effective for 5-10 years or until it is removed. Yet, women who have not had children or are not in mutually monogamous relationships continue to be denied IUDs today — despite evidence showing IUDs are safe for them.
While today’s IUDs are safe, they are out of reach for many women. For an uninsured woman paying out-of-pocket, an IUD costs $500—$1500, including exams, tests, the IUD, insertion, and removal. If she continues to use the IUD for several years, that cost is spread out and may be less than the cost of a seemingly less expensive option. But, having to pay such a high price up-front is a significant barrier for many women. In some states, when Medicaid and insurance reimbursements fell short of IUDs’ cost, many providers simply stopped offering them.
This problem may be resolved, however, with implementation of the new health care reform law. When Congress debated the bill, members specifically noted their expectation that it would guarantee family planning coverage without cost barriers like co-payments and deductibles. Once insurers pay for contraceptive services and supplies, women who want an IUD will be able to get it without breaking the budget to pay IUD manufacturers’ high up-front prices.
Click here to read the full article where Cassidy-Brinn provides basic information about IUDs and addresses other issues about their use, including so-called counterfeit IUDs and the two sides to the IUD and coercion.
If you’re not already getting The Women’s Health Activist, click here to find out how you can receive a one-year subscription by becoming a member of the National Women’s Health Network.