Due to some reported side effects, Intrauterine Devices were kept “off the frontline of birth control for years.” However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an influential part of the medical community, has recently formally endorsed the birth control method “for all healthy adult women and adolescents.”
The endorsement represents a new chapter in the history of intrauterine devices (IUDs). The T-shaped pieces of plastic laced with copper or hormones to prevent pregnancy may raise the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in serious complications, including infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But many experts say that risk is small, and the new recommendations, published in a Practice Bulletin in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, replace guidelines issued in January 2005.
At that time, only women who had given birth and were at low risk for sexually transmitted diseases were considered routine candidates for IUDs. However, researchers say other women and adolescents have been using them, despite the lack of official endorsement from the organization until now.
The Guttmacher Institute released a report last month about the rising popularity of IUDs in the United States. Among other factors, the report credits an increase of this form of birth control because of “contraceptive equity laws that require insurance plans to cover contraceptive methods, including intrauterine contraception.”
Recently, however, access to birth control is not as equitable as it used to be. The recent fight waged by anti-abortion rights groups against Planned Parenthood has made access to birth control (including IUDs) for low-income women that much harder.
States across the country are slashing family planning funds from their state budgets. Florida legislators recently slashed almost $1 million from aid to local governments for family planning services.
States such as Indiana, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and others are actively defunding Planned Parenthood, limiting access to affordable birth control, breast exams, and Pap smears.
Despite the device’s effectiveness and this recent endorsement, the biggest barrier facing contraceptives such as IUDs is state battles limiting access to family planning across the board.