Intrauterine Devices (IUD’s) are long-lasting passive birth control for women. Once inserted they work anywhere from ten years to life. IUD’s are the most common birth-control method in the world.
IUD’s were first developed in 1909 by Richard Richter of Waldenburg, Germany. Ernst Gräfenberg also supported the devices. He is the doctor the “G-Spot” is named after. However, neither device caught on.
In the early 1960s, Jack Lippes created plastic IUDs that became the standard-bearer for years. Lazar Margulies improved the IUD, making it possible to insert without dilating the cervix.
There are two types of IUD’s, hormonal and non-hormonal. Hormonal slowly release hormones that slow down or stop menstruation and must be replaced every decade. Conversely, non-hormonal use copper that creates a hostile environment for sperm. By comparison, non-hormonal IUD’s theoretically last indefinitely.
Unlike sterilization, which might be reversible, removing an IUD restores fertility to its prior state virtually immediately. Specifically, there are no lingering side effects beyond the initial comfort of insertion and, in the case of non-hormonal IUD’s, a short period of mild cramping.
One early IUD, the Dalkon Shield, damaged both women and the reputation of IUD’s for decades. Invented in 1968 by Dr. Hugh Davis, the plastic Dalkon Shield was intended for women who never had children. Eventually, it became wildly popular and, by 1970, over 600,000 were implanted. However, reports soon surfaced about severe pelvic infections. The manufacturer reiterated the device was safe. By June 1974, Notwithstanding their claims, six women had died of complications. The manufacturer finally discontinued the product.
Newer IUD’s function differently than the Dalkin Shield and, over decades, have proven to be as safe or safer than other birth control methods.
Markedly, IUD’s are especially popular in China. From 1980 to 2014, 324 million Chinese women started using IUD’s as part of the now-abandoned one-baby policy. However, Concerned about a lack of babies, the Chinese government is now funding IUD removal, illustrating the benefits of IUD over the more permanent tubal ligation.