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It’s Time to Rediscover the IUD, Women’s Health Advocates Say

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effective forms of birth control, but are relatively underutilized, at least in the United States.(Spike Mafford/Getty Images)

Intrauterine devices are one of the most effective forms of birth control, but are relatively underutilized, at least in the United States.(Spike Mafford/Getty Images)

By Dana Farrington, NPR

What will it take to make intrauterine devices sexy?

IUDs are highly effective forms of contraception, but fear of side effects, lack of training for doctors and costs can keep women away. Health organizations and private companies are trying to change that by breaking down misconceptions and broadening access.

The contraceptives are inserted into the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for years. And they’re reversible. Shortly after they’re taken out, a woman can become pregnant.

IUDs are more than 99 percent effective. The World Health Organization reports they are “the most widely used reversible contraceptive method globally.” But few women in the U.S. use them; the percentage is only in the single digits, in part because IUDs have a checkered past. The Dalkon Shield IUD, marketed nationwide beginning in 1971, was found to raise the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease. Medical complications and deaths sparked lawsuits with thousands of claimants. Continue reading