The IUD: Facts for an Informed Choice

Authored By: Couple to Couple League

THE IUD: SOME FACTS FOR AN INFORMED CHOICE

The responsible choice

Married couples have many methods of birth regulation available today, and they have the freedom to decide which one to use. Along with freedom of choice, they also have the responsibility to learn critical information before making the decision. If couples make no effort to discover the consequences and effects of their decision, then they may be merely deciding on who will make the choice for them.

THE IUD: WHAT IS IT?

The intrauterine device (IUD) is a foreign body basically made of a relatively non-reactive plastic material (polyethylene) inserted into the uterus of a woman for birth control purposes. Some of the more recent devices have incorporated active chemicals such as progesterone or copper which slowly release and react locally to contribute to birth control efficiency.

HOW DOES THE IUD WORK?

The IUD does little or nothing to interfere with sperm migration or fertilization (conception). It achieves its birth control effect primarily by preventing the newly conceived human life from implanting in the uterine lining (endometrium) and is thus an abortifacient.

WHAT IS AN ABORTIFACIENT?

An abortifacient is an agent which causes an abortion by interfering with the development of the conceived child in the womb.[1] The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare defined abortion as follows:

"All the measures which impair the viability of the zygote at any time between the instant of fertilization and the completing of labor constitute, in the strict sense procedures for inducing abortion."[2]

WHY IS THE IUD AN ABORTIFACIENT?

According the American Medical Association Committee on Human Reproduction," the action of the IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of the action."[3] "Nidation" is another term for the implantation of the newly conceived child in the lining of the uterus. This is the endometrium in which the approximately one-week-old new life seeks to nest and which is the source of nutrition for continued development.[4]

Dr. Robert Edwards, in a paper presented at the Family Planning Research Conference at Exter, England, in 1971 said, "most scientists would now accept that the effect (of the IUD) in most species, including man, is exerted at implantation."[5] In an exhaustive survey of over four hundred articles on the subject, Dr. Thomas W. Hilgers concluded, "in the light of current, accepted medical definitions of contraception, abortifacient, pregnancy, conception, and abortion, the conclusion is that the primary action of the IUD must be classed as abortifacient."[6]

HOW DOES THE IUD PREVENT IMPLANTATION?

Dr. Hilgers noted several possible explanations for the IUD's birth control effects including uterine contraction, chronic infection, and production of antibodies which may literally destroy the new life when it enters the uterus.[7]

DOES THE IUD HAVE OTHER ABORTIFACIENT EFFECTS?

Yes. "Subclinical pregnancy has been reported do occur in 12 to 44% of cycles in women wearing intrauterine devices," reported a study by Dr. Markku Seppala of the University General Hospital Helsinki.[8] The results of eighteen studies of patients with IUDs found that when pregnancies occurred with the IUD in place, 28.6% were spontaneously aborted and another 8.4% were etopic or tubal pregnancies necessitating surgery. Therefore, in the polite language of medicine, the IUD contributed to a "fetal wastage" rate of 37% in these pregnancies.[9]

CAN THE IUD AFFECT A WOMAN'S HEALTH?

Yes. The IUD can be a cause of serious complications which include hemorrhage, pelvic infection, and perforation of the uterus. These may produce sterility. Major surgery may be required in some cases and death may follow in a few.[10],[11],[12] An IUD manufacturer's booklet for patients lists 31 possible adverse reactions from its IUD.[13]

PRACTICAL CONCLUSIONS

1. Whatever uncertainty may still exist concerning the actual workings of the IUD, there is no reasonable doubt that it accomplishes its birth control function as an early abortion agent after conception has occurred, and it is a misnomer to call such an action "contraceptive."

2. Any woman who is concerned about the life of the unborn infant will avoid choosing the IUD as a method of birth regulation.

3. The IUD presents serious dangers to a woman's own health and her ability to bear children in the future.

IS THERE A NATURAL, SAFE AND EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE IUD?

Yes. At the same time that drug companies developed the IUD, other research provided a medically safe, healthy and natural method that is in the same effectiveness range as the IUD. This is the sympto-thermal method of natural family planning.

Further information is available from the Couple to Couple League, an organization that has been teaching the sympto-thermal method since 1971.

ENDNOTES

1. Ralf G. Rahwan, "Pharmacological approaches to birth control," Part 1, "US Pharmacist," October, 1977.

2. Public Health Service leaflet no 1066, U.S Department of Health Education and Welfare, 1963, 27.

3. American Medical Association Committee on Human Reproduction "Evaluation of intrauterine contraceptive devices," "Journal of the American Medical Association," 199:9, February 27, 1967, 155.

4. Robert A Hatcher, et al "Contraceptive Technology" 1978-1979 (New York Irvington, 1978), 36.

5. Robert Edwards, "The physiologist and contraception," paper presented before the Family Planning Research Conference at Exter England in 1971.

6. Thomas W. Hilgers, "The intrauterine device: contraceptive or abortifacient?" "Minnesota Medicine," June, 1974, 493-501.

7. Thomas W. Hilgers, reprinted in "Marriage and Family Newsletter" with additions 5:1, 2, 3, January-March, 1974, 14.

8. Markku Seppala et al "Pregnancy-specific beta-glycoprotein and chorionic gonadotropin-like immunoreactivity during the latter half of the cycle in women using intrauterine contraception," "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" 47:6, 1978, 1216.

9. Hilgers, "Minnesota Medicine," op. cit, 497.

10. "Pelvic inflammatory disease in IUD users" "FDA Bulletin" May-July 1978, 19. See also: V. Beral "Reproductive mortality," "British Medical Journal" September 15, 1979, 633.

11. Christopher Tietze, "Intrauterine contraception: a research report "Studies in Family Planning," no 36,1968, 36

12. "Physicians' Desk Reference," 33rd edition (Oradell, New Jersey Medical Economics Company/Litton Industries, 1979), 1254.

13. Searle Laboratories "For the Patient: Cu-7 Brand of Intrauterine Copper Contraceptive." (Chicago: G.D. Searle, August 1, 1977), 7-9.

Copyright 1980 The Couple to Couple League International, Inc.

The information contained in this document is for private use and may not be reproduced, published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written permission of the Couple to Couple League.

Further Information

For further information about Natural Family Planning (NFP), for referral to Couple to Couple's NFP instruction in your vicinity, or for information on self-instruction contact: The Couple to Couple League P.O. Box 111184 Cincinnati, OH 45211, USA 1-513-661-7612. CompuServe Address: 73311,256.

This information is from a brochure titled "The Pill and the IUD". The brochure and related material may be ordered from Couple to Couple League direct or through CRN's Catholic MarketPlace on CompuServe.

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