Saturday, January 21, 2006

The IUD controversy

I came upon a discussion this week about IUDs and how they work, and whether they are a licit choice of contraception for a pro-life family. Of course for Catholics they are out of the question regardless, but I wondered if it was true that the IUD is no longer considered to be abortifacient.

This is what made me start to wonder:

He (a trusted OB/GYN)brought up the fact that outdated literature suggests that IUDs cause a woman's body to abort the fetus and, knowing my religious background, he wanted to address that. I am a firm pro-lifer.

He said that the device has been shown by more updated research to act basically as a spermicide, disabling the sperm so they are unable to fertilize an egg. I haven't read all the studies. Religious websites say one thing, choosing to believe studies done in the 70s for their information. Planned Parenthood says another. I don't really trust either.


It had been a while since I had researched these things myself, so I figured if this was true, I should be able to find this information on purely secular medical sites with no religious affilitation. This is what I found.



IUD : American Pregnancy Association: "How do intrauterine devices work?
The progesterone intrauterine device releases a constant low dose of a synthetic hormone continually throughout the day. Both the progesterone IUD and copper IUD prevent pregnancy in one of two ways:
The released progesterone or copper creates changes in the cervical mucus and inside the uterus that kills sperm or makes them immobile.
Changes the lining of the uterus, preventing implantation should fertilization occur. "


Changing the lining to prevent implantation means that the newly conceived cannot implant. So this site is saying that the IUD is abortifacient. But even if you do not have an opinion one way or the other about the abortifacient effect, look at the side effects of having a foreign body in your uterus!


Potential side effects from using an IUD include:

Mood changes
Acne
Headaches
Breast tenderness
Pelvic pain
Cramping (copper IUD)
Increased bleeding during menstruation (copper IUD)
Nausea
There is an increased risk of pelvic infections, particularly for women who have more than one sexual partner.




I found this information on a brand new type of IUD - so this definitely is not outdated 1970s information:

THE MIRENA IUD - a patient's guide
Dr Paula Weadon - Family Doctor



Overview

Mirena is an IUD (intra-uterine device) which also releases a low dose of the hormone levonorgestrel (a progestogen hormone)


The low-dose hormone works as a contraceptive by its effects on the lining of the uterus and also making the cervical mucous more hostile. Ovulation may be inhibited in some women, but this is not the main mechanism of action.


So this is abortifacient as well.



Side effects

There can be some spotting during the first months of use, and menstrual problems are the most commonly reported side effects.

Some women stop getting periods altogether in the months following the insertion of Mirena. Other changes in bleeding patterns include shorter or longer menstrual periods, heavy flow and painful periods. Any concerns should be discussed with the doctor who inserted it.

Other reported problems include headache, lower abdominal pain, back pain, skin disorders, vaginal discharge, benign breast problems, vaginitis, depression, mood changes, nausea. Other isolated side effects reported included weight gain, hair loss, greasy hair, increase in hair growth (hirsutism). These are rare side effects and need to be balanced against the advantages of good worry-free contraception which is reversible.

There is a risk of pelvic infection from using Mirena but studies suggest the risk is lower with this system than copper IUDs. There is a higher risk of pelvic infections with multiple sexual partners.


So lastly, I went right to the horse's mouth per se. What does Planned parenthood say:

How IUDs Work
IUDs usually work by preventing fertilization of an egg. They seem to do it by affecting the way the sperm or eggs move. They also affect the lining of the uterus, which, in theory, may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.


Another acknowledgement of the aborifacient effect.

I think the bottom line here is that as women and Christians we have to be very vigilent about our own care when it comes to childbirth and family planning and many times that means for the sake of all our children, we need to do our own research.

I found a more techical article on the topic here. It's very compelling for the case against IUDs.
http://www.aafp.org/afp/990901ap/letters.html

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...