Blessed be the IUD
Consider the uterus hack that might just outlast Trump’s malignant assault on birth control
Excuse me, do you have a minute? I'd like to talk to you about our lord and savior, the intrauterine device.
Friend, let me tell you about when I first saw the light: After a decade of bouncing from various hormonal cocktails in the form of the Depo-Provera shot, birth control pills and super-chic arm patches commonly mistaken for a nicotine patch—and after enduring the accompanying hair loss and cessation of emotions beyond a, “I guess this is fine” ennui—about eight years ago, I got myself an IUD.
A quick primer for the uninitiated: An IUD is a small, T-shaped device that is inserted by a medical professional into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. (Intrauterine device, get it?) There are two different types: hormonal IUDs, which last from three to six years depending on the brand (and which generally administer lower doses of hormones than other birth control methods, thus having fewer side effects), and the Paragard, a nonhormonal IUD made out of copper that lasts up to 12 years.
They are over 99 percent effective because there’s no room for user error (i.e., you can’t throw it up after drinking too much) and, because of their longevity, are one of the most cost-effective forms of birth control. Once it’s in, you essentially don’t have to think about birth control for years. And if you do want to get pregnant, it’s easily removable and almost immediately reversible.
I’ve been preaching the miracle that is the IUD to anyone who would listen before Trump and his swamp monsters invaded Washington. But now? After the country put a deranged Oompa Loompa in charge of the free world? After one of his first executive orders was to prevent funding to international health organizations that even talk to women about abortions?
IUDs have gone from a marvel of health-tech innovation to probably the best option for women not wanting to get pregnant at any point during Trump’s administration.
On CNN recently, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards reported a 900 percent increase in women seeking IUDs since Election Day. And while there is some comfort to be taken in California’s progressive stance on providing access to birth control even if federal funding is withheld, what we’ve learned since November 8 is that nothing is impossible or off limits.
IUDs come with side effects of their own and may not be a perfect fit for everyone, but as an elated copper-IUD-haver of eight years (shout out to the Women’s Health Specialists on Ethan Way!), I hope to encourage as many women as I can to discuss it with their health professionals.
Because here’s the thing: Right now, under the Affordable Care Act, most women can have an IUD put in for free. (Thanks, Obama. Seriously.) The on-paper cost can be upward of $1,000 and, as the battle over the ACA heats up, the future of IUD coverage and other forms of birth control is uncertain.
We’re facing a very real prospect of women’s bodies being maliciously and stupidly legislated by groups of men who have no idea what they’re talking about, and so we must arm ourselves accordingly. That little T-shaped device may be a good way to start.