Now that the road just got a little bit clearer for women (at least those with private insurance) to obtain preventative health care without a hefty co-pay, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, everyone's raving about how their birth control pills will be free. And that's awesome for the ladies who don't mind hormonal birth control (and all its side effects and potential side effects), but the enactment of the reform actually offers an awesome opportunity to take a second look at a different form of birth control -- one that's totally hormone-free.
As it turns out, use of intrauterine devices (IUDs) has been on the rise over the past few years, as more American women are choosing IUDs and contraceptive implants over the pill and condoms, according to a new national study. That's the good news.
The bad is that the numbers are still way lower than in other countries -- only 8.5 percent of us chose an IUD or implant over other forms of birth control in '09 vs. one-quarter of women in France and Norway! -- due to outdated misconceptions about the device. Like that they can cause pelvic infection and infertility. Agh. So not true!
In fact, the IUD hasn't been associated with such threats since the '70s when women got the first model called the Dalkon Shield. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have endorsed IUDs and implants, which these days include the hormonal IUD Mirena, the copper-T IUD ParaGard (which gets rave reviews from women I know who have it!), and Implanon (a progestin-only hormonal implant). All of these have a much lower rate of unintended pregnancy than the pill or condoms. And for young women, IUDs are 20 times (!!!) more effective in pregnancy prevention than the freakin', libido-killing, blood clot risk-raising pill! (That's because it's a "set and forget" method.)
And yet ... 30 percent of docs aren't recommending them to younger women who have never had kids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because they're hung up on some antiquated, disproven issues from 30+ years ago. Ugh! It's enough to make you want to bang your head against the wall.
But being that cost-sharing for the device (which used to be a few hundred bucks) will soon be nil, it'll definitely be worth putting up a fight with any health care provider who tries to steer you away from the form of birth control that suits you best.
How do you feel about IUDs?