IUDs – Are They Really the “Best” Contraception?

That’s the opinion of television’s The Doctors, a syndicated TV Show that appears to be giving Dr Oz a run for his money, in USA Today. In fact, that’s the headline – IUDs: The Best Contraceptive Option.

What you know about birth control: Nearly half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended; abstinence is the only sure-fire way to prevent pregnancy (and protect you from STDs); smoking while on the Pill may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke; as long as you are still getting a period, you can get pregnant during menopause. But here’s something you may not know:

We think IUDs work best.

This is contraceptive education at its worst.  Highlighting the rare side effects of other methods and dismissing the ones of the method you are touting. (Almost made me wonder if there’s advertising money coming from the IUD manufacturers to the show, but I could find nothing on the show’s website to support this…)

IUDs are a great method, but they’re not for everyone. Pills are also a great method, and they’re not for everyone.  Ditto for condoms, diaphragms, sterilization, Essure, the Ring, the Sponge and the Patch.

All these methods are great, and none is perfect.  They all have benefits.  They all have side effects. And every woman has a unique body, health history and personal concerns that determine what birth control is “best” for her. Which may be entirely different than what’s “best ” for someone else.

Contraceptive choice is not a horse race. There is no “best”. There’s only what’s right for you.

Don’t let a headline drive your choice. Make your own decision with the help of your own doctor.

Not some TV Doctor wearing blue scrubs on a sound stage in Beverly Hills.

18 Responses to IUDs – Are They Really the “Best” Contraception?

  1. you’ve got to be kidding me — a major newspaper prints tripe from a TV show that is not even on the air yet, quoting nobody, with no sources, and purports to be passing along medical information? who is the “we” that thinks “IUD’s work best?”

    and why does this junk start with “abstinence” as the only sure-fire method? sound like anyone’s political campaign pitch?

    also, i’m not understanding the bit about STD’s paired with the pitch for IUD’s. if one’s partner (even in marriage!) has unprotected sex and picks something up, an IUD will do little about STD’s.

    • kathy a –

      I kno. It’s amazing how bad the reporting is on this one. Actually it’s not even reporting – just passing along of badly written “advice” from a bunch of TV docs who probably never read what was being written int he first place.


  2. my kids were so incredibly lucky that we thought they needed real information, lots of it; that their school had planned parenthood come and do presentations for the 5th graders and parents. and that they also have critical thinking abilities.

    but the newspaper that will likely end up outside my hotel door and yours, next trip, prints this. gah.

  3. also, “as long as you are still getting a period, you can get pregnant during menopause.” does this make any sense at all, given that menopause is generally defined as 12 months without a period?

    i am officially menopausal now, but i can assure you that my inner bitch was easily activated by stupid reproductive health advice even in my peak childbearing years. (they blamed it on PMS then.)

  4. The Doctors were probably referencing a recent study that showed that IUDs were the best long term contraceptive option for women. I agree that not all methods work for everyone but IUDs do present their benefits. Contraceptives, like most good things in life, aren’t one size or type fit all. Besides IUDs require a bigger investment right off the bat for women. Granted this issue will soon be moot because of new health insurance rules but it’s something to consider until the law kicks in.

    I think the Doctors should have taken the time to explain that the reason this contraceptive works best is because it’s “set it and forget it.” There are no chances to forget anything which is a plus for women, like this one, who don’t like the daily hassle. There’s comfort in knowing you’re safe for a few years.

    I do not agree with those that consider correctly describing abstinence as a sure method as pushing an agenda. I don’t think their comment is in any way trying to sway people one way or another. They simply stated a fact.

    • Laura –

      Not sure what study you are referencing, but I strongly take issue that any method is “best”, even when comparing long acting methods to one another. Some methods are more effective than others, some are more cost effective than others, some are better are protecting at STDs than others, some have added benefits at controlling menstrual cycles and protecting against ovarian cancer. None is “best” overall, though one method may be “best ” for a given woman.

      I stand by my post that this was just a bad article in USA Today, and bad contraceptive counseling by the Doctors.

      Thanks for your comments.

  5. Hi tBTAM -Please delete the following comment if too long, or you prefer not to address it. I am just confused and I know they always say to err on the side of caution or if in doubt ..don’t do it. I have a menopause/pregnancy question here- If a woman has not had a period or spotting in a year from the date of her last period ..then after that she is post menopausal. (I learned that here 🙂

    So at 55 and 9 mos – she is officially post menopausal thus unable to conceive.

    But then spotted ever so faintly the next month and in the month after that spots for days ..light period.

    is she able to then conceive?

    Okay ..she is me. And during that 2nd month of spotting saw my obgyn (Because I also remembered you stating that women should be seen by doc if they have post menopausal bleeding so thank you for that)and he did a pap test and endometrial biopsy and also ordered pelvic and transvaginal ultrasounds. Oh and threw the mammo in for good measure.

    I am happy to say that everything was NORMAL.

    the next month had a heavy period for about 2 weeks and then the last one about a week. I had to ride that cotton pony all over again. And interestingly ..just like in childbearing years …it arrives with the full moon.

    I didn’t call him about that since I had normal test results. He said something about medication if it kept up if I want. But, I can put up with it.

    I asked gyn doc if I could get pregnant – now 56 and he said no. I asked pcp and he said if have a period ..don’t chance it.

    REALLY? And the local hospital gives women pregnancy tests until they are 60 when inpatients. ??? This is confusing and I want to ditch the birth control. (I had just gotten Mr SeaSpray to believe I didn’t need BC and now I think I’ll be 100 before he agrees again) I hope at least I am still getting protective health benefits if hormones still kicking around.

    • Seaspray –

      It’s a question I deal with all the time. When should a perimenopausal woman stop birth control? The party line is to use BC till a year after the LMP, and I think that ‘s plenty long. Even a so-called late menses a year after menopause is unlikely to result in a pregnancy. Or as I tell my patients, I”d write them up for the books if it happened. More important to investigate the cuase of bleeding and be sure nothing else is going on, whih it sounds as if your doctor did.


  6. Ha ha! Now …I am showing THAT (about the books) to Mr SeaSpray. 🙂

    I guess I would ask you …is there anything else you might consider (and I realize you may not want to answer that so I understand), that was not done from a gynecological perspective>

    I also happened to have had my yearly physical with pcp a month after those tests and my labs, everything good. Except a-1c a little higher. And for that he put me on lowest dose metformin. And saw him yesterday and he said “If you lose 30lbs …I will take you off the medication.” So ..I am picking up that gauntlet and am a SeaSpray on a mission! I should be anyway …but this makes it fun. 😉

    Thank you TBTAM for your input.

    • Sea Spray –

      You must know by now that I cannot give out personal medical advice in this forum. So I cannot answer your question. Sorry. If you have questions regarding your treatment you should ask your doctor.

      BEst of luck with that gauntlet!

      Take care.


      • We nee to sit and chat.A mirena user here too. Pill made me cyspho, cannot have depo as didn’t work for my mother, not getting anything with needles anyway so no implanon. Condoms, lets face it, when you’re in a committed relationship (or, err not) you can feel them. Even the “invisible” ones. And if i wanted to have sex with rubber i’d use a dildo. So mirena was my only choice. I waited for my period to return post baby, 6 months later it still hadn’t (thank you breastfeeding!) and Mr Black was getting pushy by then for me to get it, so i just went in and got it. I bled for 6 months straight, and regular-heavy, non of this light spotting crap they promised. It was awful. I was gearing up to get it pulled out come the 7th month when it stopped and i thought ok, now i will give this a go. Periods every 6 weeks from then onwards, light-regular and usually only 3 days. I cramp like a bitch. Holy hell! I never got much period pain but this wakes me from my sleep! And i PMS like crazy also. Something i NEVER had before either. But right now, a year and a half after insertion, i haven’t had my period since February. Liking that. It’s really my only option, i refuse to go on the pill again, and i had given a few different types a whirl, so it sorta leaves me in the lurch. They won’t give Mr Black the snip, not when he’s only 26. And i want more kids anyway so i’m not keen on pushing permanent measures.

  7. Yes – I do understand that TBTAM. I knew it was a shot in the dark, but …nothing ventured nothing gained. 🙂

    Thank you for the other one tho. That has been perplexing to me. And regarding the latter …I figured if something else ..he’d pursue it.

    Off topic from IUD, but I have to tell you …it is so odd how my cycles always began with the full moon and even yesterday and it seemed so soon and lo and behold ..a full moon. 56 and post menopausal and still the moon. I’ve heard stories about women’s cycles at same time when living together in dorms, etc, but just think the full moon thing is weird. Once a nurse asked me when my last period was and I couldn’t remember date and so said ..”With the last moon.” 🙂

    Thanks again TBTAM – have a great weekend! 🙂

  8. Dr. TBTAM! You know if women wait to talk to “their doctor” about what is the best contraceptive option for them, there are going to be a lot of unplanned pregnancies. Please, please, use “health care provider” as I’d venture more women are seeing NPs and CNMs for this than MDs. And for what it’s worth, I’d have taken “The Doctors” advice that IUDS ‘work best’ to mean they have the lowest failure rate, which is true. But I see your points.

  9. Why this sudden push to have an IUD? I’ve had a few health care providers try to sell it to me. I may be a little paranoid but I do feel there is something behind this push. My doctor actually got a little irate with me because I refused to consider an IUD. Now why would he care what contraceptive I use?
    I do NOT want one. I could not stand to have a foreign object in my body. And I could not go through the insertion process. ( I nearly faint having pap smears). To swallow a pill everyday is hardly a hassle.

  10. Niki-
    I think you are the seeing the result
    Of aggressive Big pharma marketing aligned
    With family planning advocacy for longer acting contraceptives to decrease unintended pregnancies. It appears that as a contented and I assume successful user of ocp’s, these efforts are being misplaced on you.

    Why not tell your doc how you feel?

    Thanks for reading!


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