Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Update Your IUD Info, Get Reviews From the Hive

The two main reasons women won't consider an IUD (an implanted plastic or copper coil in your uterus to prevent pregnancy) are bad reputation (Don't those things make you sterile or give you infections?) and not knowing anybody who has one so you can't get a trusted girlfriend's opinion the way you can with birth control pills.

But things are changing in the IUD world.  Wired Magazine's fact and interview-packed article in the August 2011 issue lays out, with simple words and big pictures, the history of almost all the IUDs ever on the market, what the problems were, or weren't, including what's available now.

Implantable devices are back in the game after being shelved  for a generation, and they are on your TV screen (Mirena) and in your doctor's office.  The original comeback was targeted only at women who had already had children, but that's changing too, thanks to researcher and ob-gyn Laura MacIsaac, who took on the huge job of educating doctors about ParaGard, another new IUD entry.

Ob-gyn Eve Espey took the next step to making IUDs a first choice for young women instead of an option only for mothers.  Wired writer Jennifer Couzin-Frankel shares the personal story behind her efforts:
Her freshman year at Harvard, Espey got pregnant accidentally and dropped out. In 1979, right after giving birth to a baby boy whom she would raise alone, she had a copper IUD inserted. She subsequently finished college and medical school, and when her son was 12 they moved to a rural area of New Mexico, where she worked at the Gallup Indian Medical Center. At the time, the county had one of the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the US. It became clear to Espey that short-term methods like the pill just weren’t doing the job for her patients. They required too much consistent effort on a woman’s part. “There’s such a huge gap between perfect and typical use,” she says.
So Espey started the ball rolling to expand official approval of the new generation of IUDs with her passion and her research with teens. In 2005 IUDs were approved as a first-line choice for teenagers.

Now there's another milestone for IUDs and contraception in general: (From Slate.com)
Earlier this month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it was classifying contraceptives (among a whole slate of women's health services) as preventative care, meaning that under the Affordable Care Act, insurers must provide these services without a co-pay starting in 2013. You wouldn't necessarily know it from the news coverage of the announcement — much of which focused on how the pill would now be free — but this has the potential to remake American women's relationship with birth control in profound ways. Although it may go without saying, lowering (or removing) the cost of something typically increases demand for it.  [bold by WNL]
Read the rest of the article for an in-depth analysis of the relationship between birth control in all forms and cost, all the way back to your mother's diaphragm.  Fascinating stuff!

The Slate article makes an important point that, along with cost, knowing somebody you trust who is using a certain form of birth control is a big factor affecting what you might choose for yourself.  We are hivers, after all, socially connected and motivated before anything else, and the internet is our connection to the wisdom of the hive.  Here are three terrific sources where you can just lurk or jump in and ask any question about birth control, including IUDs.  You won't be disappointed - you'll hear real stories from your new online girlfriends to help you make up your mind.
  • Top of my list is a subreddit (social community) called 2XChromosomes.  Lurk or join, it's free and you can make up any name you want to be able to ask a question.  There are tons of BC questions there to peruse, lots of personal stories, good and bad.  You'll hear it all on Reddit.
  • Berkeley Parents Network has so much hive input you might be overwhelmed, but they do sort it out into more specific topics, so you don't have to read through the whole thing to address your concerns.

WNL:  Birth control is the best gift we give to ourselves and now it looks like cost may no longer be a barrier in just a few years.  Go for it!

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