Maybe you’ve seen the commercials or talked with a friend, convincing you to give an intrauterine device (IUD) a try. Maybe you’re just tired of popping a pill each morning. Or maybe you are breastfeeding and need a safe birth control option. IUDs may be the answer for you. Because pregnancy complications are possible with this type of device, you should talk with your doctor and partner before choosing this option.
IUDs are T-shaped copper or plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus. They prevent pregnancy either by killing sperm or by making the uterus lining too thick to harbor a fertilized egg. Since the fertilized egg cannot attach to the uterus because of the mucus, it may attach to the fallopian tubes or other area outside the uterus, causing an ectopic pregnancy. Unfortunately, a fetus cannot survive outside the uterus. Normally, surgery is required. While the IUD decreases the risk of all pregnancies, the pregnancies that do occur have a greater chance of being ectopic. According to a Canadian Medical Association document on IUDs, ectopic pregnancies have a .0025 percent chance of occurring each reproductive year. The University of Washington reports that of all the pregnancies that occur in women with IUDs, 5 percent are ectopic.
The T-shape of the IUD makes it susceptible to poking or tearing tissue in the cervix or uterus. A Family Health International site on IUD safety explains that only 4 in every 10,000 women experience uterus tearing and only 6 in every 10,000 women have tearing in their cervix. The best way to reduce the risk of such tearing is to let a physician do the insertion and removal of the IUD. If you feel any pain, during the procedure or anytime of the month, tell your doctor immediately.
If you do become pregnant with an IUD, you need to have it removed immediately, If you have it taken out as soon as you find out you are pregnant, no more than 13 weeks along, your risk of miscarriage is about the same as any other pregnancy. However, if you do not, you greatly increase the chance of losing the baby.
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