Inspired by Facebook know-it-alls, Gail Ingram sets the record straight about birth control, IUDs for young women, and “standard med advice.”
As long as Facebook exists, I will have unlimited amounts of mis-information to correct. Everyday I witness countless people with no medical experience or education making unsubstantiated claims about health and the healthcare industry. When a Facebook friend opened a discussion about birth control, it seemed that everyone suddenly became an expert.
One commenter in particular, T.K. (see conversation below), wrote that the, “…standard med advice in [the] US [is] that women should avoid IUDs if they’ve never had children.” This is, of course WRONG, which prompted me to check her credentials. I found that she is a 39 year old food business consultant and cheese expert living in New York. Um, yeah.
To set the record straight, IUDs are actually what we DO recommend for young women seeking birth control. It is one of the safest and most effective methods of contraception available today. IUDs are ideal because they are reliable, private, and easy to use.
T.K. is right when she says that that IUDs are more common in Europe, but it is NOT because of “standard med advice.” In the 1970’s, 10% of U.S. women were using IUDs, which was on par with Europe. However, a rash of lawsuits and litigation (remember the Dalkon Shield?) created fear among U.S. consumers and initiated a long-standing stigma associated with IUDs. Because of this, in 2002, only 2% of U.S. women were using IUDs with an increase to 7.7% in 2009. But as time passes and the old perceptions fade, a new generation is enjoying the benefits of IUDs without the unwarranted fear.
In 2005 (over a DECADE ago) the FDA removed all package warnings to nulliparous women (women who have not had children) because there are NO added health risks for this group. In fact, the most recent IUD on the market, Mirena, actually has a warning for parous women (women who have had children). This is contrary to T.K.’s outdated information.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that IUDs are safe and appropriate for most women, including nulliparous women and adolescents, and that use of IUDs should be encouraged as a first-line approach to pregnancy prevention.
The only reason that I wouldn’t recommend an IUD to a patient is in the presence of severe uterine distortion, an active pelvic infection, known or suspected pregnancy, Wilson’s disease, copper allergy, unexplained abnormal uterine bleeding, or active breast cancer. Irregular and heavy periods are reasons for concern with Paragard, but otherwise, T.K., we are educating patients and prescribing IUDs for young women.
So, to all the Facebook MD, DO, NP, and PA-wannabes, how about we agree to respect each other’s professions? I’m not telling people which cheese to pair with what wine, so how about you stop commenting on the practice of medicine? People’s health and wellbeing are at stake which is something I take very seriously. Unlike fromage.