A proven effective long-term birth control method remains largely unknown to many young women in Canada.
Intrauterine devices or IUDs, are used by only 2.3 per cent of women, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Although it’s widely believed by medical professionals that the number is growing, the rate of growth seems to be small.
A Humber Spa Management student who asked for anonymity, had only a vague idea about what an IUD was.
“Well I know it’s something that you physically put inside and it stays there,” she said.
Catherine McKee, Humber College’s Registered Nurse and Health Education Co-coordinator said, “an IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic device that is wrapped in copper or contains hormones.”
The copper implant can last up to 10 years, and five years for the hormonal IUD. Neither protect against sexually transmitted infections.
“The IUD is inserted into your uterus by your doctor,” McKee said, and it is a minimally invasive procedure.
The option could appeal to women like the spa student, who was using an oral contraceptive but after eight years decided to cleanse her body.
“I noticed that my moods kind of went back to normal… I definitely felt a hormonal change,” she said.
The Sex Information and Education Council of Canada says condoms and oral contraceptives are most common for women aged 15 to 29, buteffectiveness is ultimately based on the user.
For some, it’s easy to forget to take the tiny pill every day.
“One time, I didn’t take it for two days,” the student said. “And I decided, screw it, I’m just going to take all three (the next day). I was a wreck.”
The excess estrogen released by her medication caused her mood swings and hot and cold flashes.
This mistake is both common and dangerous, said Registered Nurse Pheona Rhooms.
“After a 48 hour period of not taking the pill, the effectiveness is gone,” Rhooms said. “The Mirena IUD that has medication in it, it’s just like having the pill but just you don’t have to remember.”
Rhooms said after insertion, an ultrasound is done a month later and then an annual check up.
Side effects of the copper IUD can include painful and more heavy menstrual bleeding, as well as spotting between periods (in contrast to the Mirena which can halt bleeding altogether). Serious complications are rare.