The intrauterine device (IUD) is a foreign body inserted into the uterus. IUDs are made of a non‑reactive plastic such as polyethylene, and may include active chemicals or elements such as progesterone or copper which slowly diffuse into the uterus over a period of several years.
The History of the Intrauterine Device
The first modern‑day IUD, the Grafenberg Ring, was placed on the market in 1915. Several other companies immediately saw the opportunity for profit, and by the mid‑1930s, there was a proliferation of intrauterine devices for sale. They sported intimidating names such as the Sterilette, the Collar‑Button, the Wishbone, the Silkworm Pust, and the Star.
Some of the devices were of good quality, but many were made of “cheaper, noncorrosive metals, or of celluloid, bakelite, and chromium‑plated metals rather than gold.”[i]
According to one expert at the time, “Sometimes these [cheaper IUDs] were claimed to be made of solid gold in order to enhance the price, and a few practitioners took economic advantage of the need and ignorance of women.”[i]
More than 70 different types of IUDs have been manufactured over the last century. Some of these have consisted of polyethylene with barium sulfate so they could be detected by X‑rays. The Dalkon Shield, which was withdrawn from the market in 1974 due to a number of maternal deaths, was of this type.
Other intrauterine devices, including the Progesterone‑T, were loaded with varying doses of progesterone crystals that were usually suspended in silicone oil. This intrauterine device released about 24 milligrams of progesterone a year. It was originally promoted under the truly Orwellian label “Uterine Therapeutic System.”[ii]
The copper IUDs (including the “Copper‑7,” “Copper‑T” and “Tatum‑T”) discharged from 50 to 75 micrograms of ionic copper into the uterus each day. These copper ions interfere with the life‑sustaining functions that regulate implantation of the new human life in the uterus. Copper has been proven to be the active agent in these IUDs because identical devices are ineffective without the element. Each copper intrauterine device is effective at causing early abortions for about four years.[iii]
There are three IUDs currently available on the American market:
- The first is the non-hormonal Copper T 380A (ParaGard), which consists of a flexible T‑shape containing copper collars on both arms and a copper coil along the stem, and is supposedly good for six years of sterility.
- The second is Mirena, which releases the progestin levenorgestrel at a rate of about 20 micrograms per day, declining to 14 micrograms per day after five years.[iv]
- In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration approved Bayer’s Skyla, a lower dose levenorgestrel IUD effective for three years.
How Do IUDs Work?
The intrauterine device has several contraceptive effects:
- It prevents sperm from fertilizing ova
- It releases ions that interfere with fertilization
- It thickens the cervical mucus
- It inhibits sperm capabilities
Nearly half a century ago, the American Medical Association recognized that “the action of the IUDs would seem to be a simple local phenomenon. That these devices prevent nidation [implantation] of an already fertilized ovum has been accepted as the most likely mechanism of action.”[v] The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concurred in this assessment, finding that “IUDs seem to interfere in some manner with the implantation of the fertilized egg in the lining of the uterine cavity. The IUD does not prevent ovulation.”[vi]
Nothing has changed. The patient information pamphlets for all of the intrauterine devices made today describe in detail this abortifacient action. For example, the PIP for the Skyla IUD says that one of its mechanisms of action is “alteration of the endometrium.”
In summary, every IUD ever manufactured prevents implantation, meaning that they are all abortifacients.
These devices insure that the uterus is as barren and hostile to new life as a desert. In fact, this abortifacient action is so efficient that scientists recommending the IUD for “emergency contraception” note that only one in 1,100 women will remain pregnant after inserting the device from two days to two weeks after their last unprotected intercourse.[vii]
Complications Associated with IUD Use
Until about 1960, the medical community generally condemned IUDs because of their severe side effects. Alan Guttmacher, President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in 1959, “Intrauterine devices are mentioned only to be thoroughly condemned because of their ineffectiveness, their potential source for infection and irritation, as well as their carcinogenic potential.”[viii]
Although IUD technology had not advanced in the slightest, the entire medical community performed an abrupt about‑face in the mid‑1960s and began to accept the device. But serious complications were documented almost immediately. In 1974, the FDA summarized complaints received about the various IUDs on the market at that time. The FDA had received reports of 238 cases of spontaneous septic abortion from women who had become pregnant with IUDs in place. Of these women, 21 died. The Dalkon Shield was involved in 14 of these deaths and 209 cases of septic abortion, and the Lippes Loop caused 5 deaths and 21 septic abortions.[ix]
Overall, there were about 15,000 IUD‑related hospitalizations annually in the early 1970s.[x]
A.H. Robin Pharmaceuticals made the Dalkon Shield IUD from 1971 to 1974. Documented reports of severe injuries began to surface almost immediately after initial distribution, and on 29 June 1975, the FDA announced it intended to “require special warning notices for users of the intrauterine devices, the contraceptives that were linked to 43 deaths in recent years.”[xi]
A.H. Robin pulled the Dalkon Shield from the market in 1975. By 1985, 13,000 women had sued the company for damages relating to sterility, miscarriages and pelvic infections. Incredibly, some population controllers, including Stephen Mumford and Elton Kessel ― who peddle the dangerous sterilizing chemical quinacrine in developing countries ― have tried to sanitize the image of the Dalkon Shield so that it can make a comeback.[xii]
Ortho Pharmaceuticals withdrew its Lippes Loop from the American market in 1985, and G.D. Searle withdrew its Copper‑7 and Tatum‑T IUDs in 1986 when its liability insurance lapsed. Searle also faced 775 lawsuits from women who suffered injuries from their intrauterine devices or who conceived babies with birth defects when the devices did not work properly.
Because of widespread negative publicity, only 1% of women using birth control were using an intrauterine device by 1995, but this number had risen to about 8% by 2012.[xiii]
According to their patient information pamphlets, complications associated with the IUDs in current use include:
- Perforation of the uterus, colon, bladder or small or large intestine
- Cervical lacerations
- Cervical dysplasia (developmental abnormalities)
- Deep embedding of the IUD—a serious problem in developing countries, where women may have had the devices in their uteri for a decade or more
- Fragmentation of the IUD
- Development of hydatidiform moles
- Salpingitis (inflammation of the uterine tubes)
- Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which often leads to infertility or sterility
The IUD and Population Control
Intrauterine devices have confronted the anti‑fertility industry with a number of forbidding problems, the greatest of which was the proven danger of the devices. This did not stop the IUD manufacturers from turning a tidy profit by dumping their products on the poor women of developing countries.[xiv]
Despite being faced with an avalanche of lawsuits claiming damage from its Copper‑7 and Tatum‑T IUDs, Searle said that it would continue to make IUDs for women in developing countries under population control programs funded by the United States and other Western countries.[xv] This is yet another example of the West’s “contraceptive imperialism” ― a willingness to dump unsafe and even lethal products on poor women of the developing world after judging them to be too risky for Western women.
Health risks associated with the intrauterine device are a serious matter with grave implications that are not immediately evident. Women normally lose an average of 35 to 40 cubic centimeters (cc) of blood during their menstrual period, but women using a loop IUD lose about twice as much blood. This shows that IUDs are especially ill‑suited for use in developing countries, where anemia and malnutrition are often endemic, especially among women and children.[xvi]
Naturally, long-acting birth control that women cannot control is ideal for use by coercive governments. Nearly half of all Chinese women of childbearing age have IUDs implanted after their first birth because the only alternative the government gives them is immediate sterilization.[xiii]
The IUD is the perfect example of nature’s lack of tolerance for abuse. The very idea of having a piece of plastic or metal inserted into the body in order to cripple a healthy reproductive system should be repugnant to women, but the anti-life mentality has advanced so far that millions of women are willing to risk the consequences.
[i] Norman E. Hines, Ph.D. Practical Birth‑Control Methods [New York City: Viking Press, 1938], page 138.
[ii] E.B. Connell. “The Uterine Therapeutic System: A New Approach to Female Contraception.” Contemporary OB/GYN, June 1975, pages 49 to 55.
[iii] H.J. Tatum. “The New Contraceptive: Copper Bearing IUDs.” Contemporary Obstetrics and Gynecology, January 1973, pages 61 to 63.
[iv] Robert A. Hatcher, M.D., M.P.H. Contraceptive Technology [New York City, Ardent Media] (20th Edition, 2011). Chapter 7, “Intrauterine Contraceptives (IUCs), pages 147 to 192.
[v] American Medical Association Committee on Human Reproduction. “Evaluation of Intrauterine Contraceptive Devices,” Journal of the American Medical Association, February 27, 1967, page 155.
[vi] United States Food and Drug Administration. “Text of Required Patient Information for IUDs.” Federal Register, May 10, 1977.
[vii] Kelly Cleland, Haoping Zhu, Norman Goldstuck, Linan Cheng and James Trussell. “The Efficacy of Intrauterine Devices for Emergency Contraception: A Systematic Review of 35 Years of Experience.” Human Reproduction, May 8, 2012.
[viii] Harold Dubrow, M.D., and Alan Guttmacher, M.D. “The Present Status of Contraception.” Mt. Sinai Journal, 26:118‑124. 1959.
[ix] “The Dalkon Shield and the Questions of Safety.” Medical World News, September 13, 1974, pages 58 to 61. Also see Catherine Breslin. “Day of Reckoning.” Ms. Magazine, June 1989, pages 46 to 52. This article describes the inside story of the Dalkon Shield disaster.
[x] H.S. Kahn and C.W. Tyler. “IUD‑Related Hospitalizations: United States and Puerto Rico, 1973.” Journal of the American Medical Association. 234:53‑56(1973).
[xi] “American Public Health Association Launches Campaign to Save IUD.” ALL News, March 9, 1987.
[xii] S.D. Mumford and E. Kessel. “Was the Dalkon Shield a Safe and Effective Intrauterine Device? The Conflict between Case‑Control and Clinical Trial Study Findings.” Fertility and Sterility, June 1992, pages 1,151 to 1,176.
[xiii] Steven Mosher. “The Mirena IUD is Becoming More Popular – And the Lawsuits are Piling Up.” LifeSite Daily News, November 20, 2012.
[xiv] Filipino women have probably suffered more abuse from American and European pharmaceutical companies than the women of any other nation. Max Ricketts wrote in the Mabuhay Times (April 16‑29, 1991, page 12) that “… many drugs and devices which are not even permitted in the United States have found their way to Manila where they are dumped on hapless Filipino women. One example was the IUD (or intrauterine device) which is associated with a great deal of disease and despair.”
[xv] Front Line Updates. “Searle Removes IUDs from U.S. Market.” NRL News, February 27, 1986, page 4.
[xvi] F. Hefnawi and H. Aksalani. “Menstrual Blood Loss with Copper Intrauterine Devices.” Contraception, September 1974, pages 133 to 139.