Time and again it has been shown that women limit the size of their families in societies that sustain improved health, education and socio-economic vitality. Limiting family sizes is key to humanity reaching a sustainable population level and limiting human impact on the natural environment. Historically many women have turned to “the pill” for limiting of family sizes. More recently however, according to the Guttmacher Institute, there tends to be a trend in the increasing use of IUD among young women. Myself and my OB/Gyn colleagues are also seeing this trend in our own practices. They are drawn to the overall low cost, convenience of the method as well as the effectiveness. Still other women prefer to avoid the side effects that come along with birth control pills, like decreased libido, vaginal dryness and pain with sex, or breakthrough bleeding.
When it comes to the Copper IUD, otherwise know as the “Copper T” by Paragard, there is the silver lining related to the environmental effects. The birth controls women take on a daily basis can be excreted into waste water and make their way into the local environments we live in contaminating our water. Studies have shown downstream rocks to be covered in a type of “biofilm” that contains these waste products. So using a copper IUD can actually reduce these waste products from entering our environment to being with.
Copper IUDs are a form of long-acting reversible contraceptives or LARC’s which are recommended by ACOG for prevention of unplanned pregnancy in teens. They are also a form of emergency contraception which can be used with great effectiveness up to 5 days after the unprotected pregnancy encounter.
While IUDs can be an effective and convenient way to control family size, it should be noted that in women delaying childbearing past the age of 30, are at an increased risk for ovarian cancer and birth control pills that are used for 5 consecutive years or more reduces this risk by 50%. This is especially true for ovulation that occurs in the 20s. Therefore, women in their twenties may find the cost-benefit ratio to weigh towards pill use in their 20s switching over to the IUD for the remainder of their family planning years. Also, women that suffer from heavy irregular and/or painful periods may need the pill or a hormone containing IUD to help control their symptoms and to prevent endometrial cancer. Additionally the IUD may be uncomfortable to have placed and does have some risk during or after placement. You can read more about the method here.
Regardless of what my opinions are they are not a medical opinion for individuals and women should always discuss what the right birth control method is for themselves with their own personal physician. For those who do find the Copper T to be the right method for them, they can rest assured knowing that they are doing a little something for conservation of the environment and our water supply.
It should be noted that I have no financial arrangement with Paragard and I have not been paid for this posting.© Regina Zopf MD 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Regina Zopf MD with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Accessing this site means you agree to the disclaimer that can be read here.