The great “IUD rush” of 2017 proved to be an unnecessary race to obtain an implanted, long-acting intrauterine birth control device before President Donald Trump — as some claimed — could end no-cost health insurance coverage for it. That fear was unfounded, and many women ended up regretting their decision to implant IUDs. While some women report no issues with the device, others are coming forward with stories of immense physical and emotional suffering brought on by IUDs — and it’s time their stories are heard.
WARNING: Images may be disturbing for some.
Cynthia’s IUD lodged in her uterine wall
She never wanted an IUD, but fear of becoming pregnant again so soon after having a baby led Cynthia to have an IUD implanted. She told Live Action News she immediately had horrible cramping and light bleeding, but it wasn’t until a year later that she learned something was terribly wrong.
A UTI that doctors failed to immediately diagnose led to a kidney infection and sepsis. A CT scan found the kidney infection… as well as the fact that the IUD had embedded itself in Cynthia’s uterine wall. Doctors were extremely concerned and after she had healed from the kidney infection, they scheduled surgery to remove the IUD.
While the doctors told her she shouldn’t have long-term physical damage despite having a hole in her uterus, Cynthia told Live Action News she suffers emotionally from what she went through.
Tanai lost her uterus, her ovaries, and toes because of an IUD
Live Action shared the story of Tanai Smith of Baltimore, who had an IUD placed six months after her daughter was born. But she wasn’t told of a possible risk of the IUD migrating in the body. Smith’s IUD wedged itself into the wall of her stomach, leaving her feeling as though she had been stabbed.
Her doctor said surgery was needed to remove the IUD, but scheduled it several weeks after — during which time the IUD migrated again, this time to her liver, where it broke into pieces. What was supposed to be a quick surgery with one incision ended up longer, with three incisions to locate the pieces. The next morning Smith woke up with severe pain and heavy bleeding.
Doctors said her ovaries and uterus had blackened and needed to be removed with surgery. She spent weeks in and out of consciousness, developing sepsis and losing kidney function. Eventually, the toes on her left foot and the tips of the toes on her right foot were removed due to loss of blood flow. One day she noticed her middle toe had simply come off. While she is grateful she didn’t lose her limbs completely, she is heartbroken to not be able to give her daughter siblings.
Amanda’s IUD caused Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
Amanda told MamaMia that her IUD made her “crazy.” After she had it implanted, she bled for more than 10 days at a time and dealt with spotting as well, and she was “an emotional wreck.” She became depressed and angry, and her sex drive was uncomfortably high.
Amanda was diagnosed with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a depressive syndrome that includes feelings of anxiety, fatigue, sleep issues, and anger. She was put on antidepressants, which came with more side effects. She wanted the IUD removed, but her doctor refused. After a few more months went by, she saw a different doctor who agreed something was wrong. The IUD was finally removed. Six months later, Amanda was back to feeling like herself again.
READ: Abortion numbers are rising for women using IUDs
Melissa’s IUD broke and embedded into her uterus
Despite her initially positive experience with an IUD, Melissa Petro is now concerned for women who get them. In an article for The Week, she says her doctor never told her the IUD’s potential side effects — and for nine years all seemed well, until she lost her insurance.
Two years after this, she was experiencing bleeding during intercourse and went to Planned Parenthood for help. She says she paid out of pocket to have the IUD removed, but they refused. The IUD had migrated, but since she didn’t have backup birth control, Planned Parenthood’s doctor advised her to leave the IUD in.
“Bad advice: A displace(d) IUD can compromise its effectiveness and result in an ectopic pregnancy – but again, when you don’t have insurance, you don’t get a second opinion,” she wrote, “even when the advice you receive from the first physician doesn’t sound right.”
Four years later, Amanda was married with health insurance, and wanted to start a family. She went to have her IUD removed, but the doctor discovered that a piece of it had broken off and embedded into the uterine lining. A different doctor was able to remove it without surgery, but Amanda was told she may have trouble carrying a baby to term. In a happy ending, she was eventually able to get pregnant, but she is concerned that women are being pushed into getting IUDs without being properly warned of the risks.
Saskia suffered an ectopic pregnancy because of an IUD
Three years after Saskia Longaretti had an IUD implanted, she experienced abdominal pain, a five-week long period, and a hard lump at the base of her cervix. Her doctor diagnosed stress-induced irritable bowel syndrome and sent her on her way. But her conditioned worsened.
The pain escalated, and while on the toilet, Saskia felt something fall out of her. She went to the emergency room where doctors discovered she was miscarrying an ectopic pregnancy — her child had begun developing outside her uterus because of the IUD. She had to have her ruptured fallopian tube and preborn child removed.
Esther and Isobel experienced anxiety and hair loss from their IUDs
One month after Esther Colner got an IUD, she began losing her hair and having panic attacks. Her doctor had only great things to say about IUDs so Esther felt she had been scammed — another woman who wasn’t warned of the potential side effects of IUDs.
Isobel Larkin had a similar experience of anxiety and hair loss, along with acne and extreme abdominal pain. When she told her doctor, he said it wasn’t related to the IUD and ran multiple tests before finally deciding it was the IUD causing Isobel’s symptoms. It took a year for it to be removed.
READ: Planned Parenthood called ‘irresponsible’ for IUD ad
While some in the medical community downplay the IUD’s risks and cases like these, women are often not informed of the risks; when symptoms do arise, many doctors are quick to dismiss them. Some doctors blame small cervixes for IUD migration and recommend that only women who have already had a child should implant an IUD. However, many women affected had already given birth before they got IUDs.
Hormonal contraception — like the Pill and the IUD — has been linked to depression and a higher risk of suicide, as well as physical risks like the ones these women have suffered. Women have other options, and they deserve to know the risks before they do something that could negatively affect their reproductive systems.