Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): A Brief History In Birth Control
An intrauterine device, often called IUD, is a type of birth control that is put directly into a woman's uterus by a trained healthcare professional. It's very small, and usually shaped like a T.
Birth Control And IUDs Have Been Around For A Long Time
Birth control is an old idea. Condoms have been used since ancient times primarily to prevent sexually transmitted disease. But as a birth control method, it requires the man to use it the right way. Most women prefer to take control over their fertility.
Women in ancient Egypt put small round objects called pessaries they made from acacia tree gum into their uteruses. This was a great idea: the gum was soft, easy to shape, and has natural acids to kill sperm.
In the late 1800s, pessaries were introduced that were made from glass and precious metals--some even from gold! Most were shaped like mushrooms or wishbones and were pushed up the vagina and anchored in place in front of the cervix.
By the 1930s, sympathetic doctors created the early types of IUDs from silk and wire. One of these doctors, Ernst Gräfenberg, is credited with identifying the "G-spot" that bears his initial.
Contraceptives Took Off After World War II
World War II interrupted a lot of innovation in the US. When it ended, American creativity took off in many areas: computers, household innovations like refrigerators and washing machines, televisions--and birth control.
Although most Dalkon users were unharmed, birth control research turned away from IUDs.
The Return Of The IUD
Other birth control methods weren't universally popular. Not all women tolerate birth control pills well many suffer from irritation from spermicides used with contraceptives like the diaphragm and sponge. It took about 25 years, but IUDs finally began to make a comeback.
Today, there are several on the market. They are used for birth control and to reduce heavy periods. Here is a list from The Cut:
- Hormone-free ParaGard
- Mirena for women with heavy periods, and its low-cost alternative Liletta
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- Lylena for women who want long-term birth control
These IUDs thicken the mucus in the cervix to prevent sperm from attaching to an egg. Some have spermicides or hormones as a backup as well. One interesting fact: while 12% of women who use birth control choose an IUD, it's the choice for more than 40% of women doctors!
Kimberly Dougherty Bio:
Kimberly Dougherty, Esq is a Partner and the Managing Attorney at the Boston office of Janet, Jenner & Suggs, which is a national plaintiffs’ law firm and a sponsor of BirthControlProblems.com. Kim has taken on a number of large corporate defendants in her career, handling multiple lawsuits involving dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices. She is also the President for the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association.