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Q & A with Dr. Cullins: Birth Control

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    I heard IUDs can cause infertility. Is that true?

    Itís a common myth, but itís not true. IUDs ó intrauterine devices, increasingly referred to as IUCs (intrauterine contraceptives) ó are among the safest, most effective, and least expensive methods of birth control available. In fact, they are the most popular form of reversible birth control in the world. More than 85 million women use IUDs. 

    The myth started in the 1980s. An insufficiently tested, defective brand of IUD ó the Dalkon Shield ó had to be removed from the market because of the damage it caused, including infections that led to infertility. Todayís IUDs are safe, effective, and do not cause infertility. 

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) cause infertility, not IUDs. If you have an IUD inserted while you have an STI, you increase your chance of infertility. Thatís why most health care providers test for STIs before inserting IUDs. 

    IUDs do not protect against STIs. Thatís why women who use methods such as IUDs, hormones, diaphragms, sponges, or cervical caps need to protect themselves with condoms whenever thereís a risk of infection.

This column is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have a medical problem, please call toll-free 1-800-230-PLAN for an appointment with the Planned Parenthood health center nearest you.

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