Can the IUD Make You Infertile?
Can the IUD Make You Infertile?
IUDs are an excellent birth control option because they are effective, safe and easy to use, said Dr. Sara Pentlicky, a gynecologist and family planning specialist at the University of Pennsylvania.
While some women can't use estrogen-containing birth control because of health issues, "there are very few women who can't use an IUD," Pentlicky said. She estimated that 80 percent of the female doctors in her practice use IUDs for their own contraception.
IUDs have to be inserted by a doctor, but once in place, they are effective immediately and can protect against pregnancy for five to 10 years, depending on the type.
One reason that IUD use has been discouraged in women who have not borne children has to do with concern over the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and infertility. This is based on the presumption that women or teens who have not had children and are not married may have had several sexual partners, putting them at a higher risk for a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
These studies deterred women from using IUDs because they claimed that PID risk increased by at least 60% in women who used IUDs. Yet these studies didn't have proper comparison groups (for example, they did not account for PID history, other birth control methods or those women who may be at higher risk for developing PID). They also used crude analysis methods.
Better designed research that uses more sophisticated data analysis techniques has found that there is no significant increase in the risk of PID with IUD use.
Here’s the problem: There’s an awful lot of misinformation out there. Scan the Internet or even ask a random sampling of medical professionals, and you’re bound to get contradictory responses about how contraceptives such as the Pill, the IUD (intrauterine device), and Depo-Provera affect your fertility. To set the record straight, we asked experts for the latest, most up-to-date information. The good news: “With a few notable exceptions, immediately after you stop using birth control, your fertility will go right back to what it was destined to be,” says Paul Blumenthal, M.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore.
IUD and Infertility – The Myth
One of the common causes of infertility is a tubal blockage. Approximately 1 million infertility cases are due to tubal disease. If left untreated, PID can cause inflammation and permanent blocking of the fallopian tubes. There appears to be no evidence that IUD use is associated with future infertility.
Research indicates that the previous use or current use of an IUD is not associated with an increased risk of tubal blockage. Results from an unmatched, case-control study of 1,895 women with primary tubal infertility (using several control groups to minimize bias – including women with infertility due to tubal blockage, infertile women who didn’t have tubal blockage and women who were pregnant for the first time), indicated:
Previous use of copper IUDs (like ParaGard), as compared with women with no prior contraception use, was not associated with an increased risk of tubal blockage.
Women whose sexual partners used condoms had a 50% lower risk of a tubal blockage than those who used no contraception.
A longer duration of IUD use, the removal of the IUD because of side effects and/or a history of symptoms during IUD use were not related to an increased risk of tubal blockage.
While the IUD does not cause infertility, our misconceptions borne of misinformation have driven many women to hold this fear true. To summarise in 6 short words – the IUD does not cause infertility!