Risks Of Using An IUD

Author
Alicia Betz
December 1, 2020

An IUD (intrauterine device) is a form of long-term birth control that is generally recognized as safe and effective. IUDs are small “T” shaped devices that are inserted into your uterus in the doctor’s office. The two types—hormonal and copper—both work by preventing fertilization. 

Many women choose IUDs as birth control because the devices can be left in for up to ten years, and fertility returns immediately after removal. 

In the past, IUDs had a bad reputation, thanks mainly to the Dalkon Shield IUD, which was unsafe and caused major complications. Since then, the FDA has gained more regulatory approval over medical devices such as IUDs, and they are much safer than they were in the past. 

Nonetheless, they are not free from risk, and complications range from mild cramping to uterine perforation.

Serious Risks of Using an IUD

Serious complications when using an IUD are rare. Nonetheless, if you have an IUD inserted, you are assuming the following serious risks: 

  • Perforation: An IUD can perforate the uterus, and if the perforation is severe, the device can also travel and damage other internal organs, such as the bowels or the urinary tract. Additional complications of perforation include infection, bleeding, and surgery. Perforation happens most often during insertion. This has been a known issue with the Paragard copper IUD because the device can break apart and perforate the uterus or other organs. 
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): PID is an infection of the reproductive organs. It is associated with IUD insertion because the IUD can introduce bacteria through the cervix and into the uterus. PID is most likely to happen shortly after insertion. 
  • Expulsion: Expulsion is when the IUD slips down through the cervix or completely falls out. If your IUD is expelled, it no longer prevents pregnancy. Again, this is most likely to happen shortly after insertion. 
  • Pregnancy complications: If you do become pregnant with an IUD, you have a higher risk of miscarriage, pre-term birth, and other complications. This can include ectopic pregnancy, which isn’t caused by an IUD, but because the chance of a normal uterine pregnancy is much lower, any pregnancy that does happen is more likely to be ectopic. 

If you believe you are experiencing any of these serious risks, contact your healthcare provider. 

paragard IUD lawsuit

Mild to Moderate IUD Side Effects

Serious side effects or complications don’t happen often, but many people with an IUD report mild side effects. These can include: 

  • Pain with insertion: Insertion is often painful, and many women also experience cramping, bleeding, and dizziness during and immediately after insertion. You may need to lie down in the office for some time until you are able to stand up and go home. 
  • Cramping and spotting: This is typically mild to moderate, and usually only lasts for a few days after insertion. Some women may experience continued spotting.
  • Heavier periods: With the copper IUD, some women experience heavier bleeding and stronger cramps during menstruation. 
  • Hormonal side effects: With hormonal IUDs, some women experience side effects such as mood changes, headaches, acne, weight gain, and hair loss. 
  • Ovarian cysts: Typically benign, some women develop cysts when they use an IUD. These cysts usually go away on their own. 
  • Allergic reaction: An allergic reaction is always possible with any medical device or medication, and it is more likely to happen with a copper IUD than a hormonal IUD. 

These side effects are considered mild, but they can be disrupting to your daily life if they are persistent and/or painful. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have IUD side effects that are concerning you or that don’t go away. 

What To Do If You Have Complications With Your IUD

Some of these risks can be extremely damaging and even life threatening; talk to your doctor if you believe you are experiencing any of the serious risks. 

In some cases, you may be able to seek compensation for injuries or complications you experienced as a direct result of using an IUD. For example, women who have used the copper Paragard IUD and experienced the device breaking apart and causing internal damage have filed Paragard lawsuits against the manufacturer. The women filing lawsuits claim that at the time they had their IUD inserted, they were not properly warned about the risk of breakage. 

Other risks such as the mild side effects aren’t as severe. They do warrant attention by your medical provider, however. He or she may be able to recommend an alternative form of birth control or a way to mitigate your side effects.

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