In the battle among birth control methods, the intrauterine device (IUD) -- which, in its copper-T form, is 100 percent non-hormonal (whoo!) -- is totally winning! New research, published online in The Lancet Oncology, found women who use IUDs, even for a short time, have a lower risk of cervical cancer than those with no history of using the device. Researchers say that's because IUDs may cause a non-threatening, low-grade inflammation within the cervix that activates the immune system to fight HPV progression.
Sheesh, can you say 180!? The IUD used to be seen as the bad guy, or at least the strange guy, of the birth control world, because back in the '70s, there was a design flaw in one of the first models. But the method has been perfected since then, and it's very clearly one of the best options for any woman -- especially someone who doesn't want to or simply cannot contend with the nasty, often permanent side effects of synthetic hormones in birth control pills.
Seriously, it's about freaking time this "good press" came along, because no matter how great a copper-T IUD (ParaGard) is, I know there are still docs out there who won't insert it in women who haven't had a baby. But, this has nothing to do with these women being the right candidate for the ParaGard and more to do with the individual doctor not being confident with insertion in a woman who hasn't been preggers, because that makes the procedure only slightly more difficult. (Also, old-school docs tend to question women who aren't married, mistakenly assuming that automatically means you aren't monogamous. Because if you get an STD, IUDs put you at a higher risk for Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which, if not treated, can lead to infertility.)
And this is all kinds of frustrating, because all too often, women who could be thriving with a non-hormonal form of birth control are stuck with the pill. The pill, which is a great option for some women, is pretty much my personal idea of pure evil in drug form. Three years on Yaz led to gallstones and other nasty side effects that haven't dissipated now even two years after stopping. I know Yaz and various other pills have caused many women grief -- from blood clots to strokes in women under 30. It's just beyond disturbing.
But with hope, this study and more studies like these will help more women of all ages and their doctors see the light! That they can ditch the pill and lean on a non-hormonal IUD as a very safe, even protective option.
What are your thoughts on the pill vs. a non-hormonal IUD? What do you think about the finding that it guards against cervical cancer?
Image via ParaGard.com