You’d think intrauterine devices (IUDs)—those little T-shaped contraceptive devices implanted in women’s uteruses—would be the go-to method of preventing pregnancy. You don’t have to take a pill every day, they are as effective—if not more effective—than sterilization, and they are totally reversible, says Meredith Warden, M.D., a family planning fellow at UC San Francisco’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. So why have only 8 percent of American women tried an IUD, compared to 82 percent who’ve taken the pill?
The blame may partly fall on the Dalkon Shield, an ill-fated intrauterine device in the 1970s that led to pelvic infections and infertility. “It had multi-filamented strings that allowed bacteria to ascend into the uterus,” says Warden. “The modern IUDs are designed totally differently.” Regardless, older doctors may be hesitant to use them—or your mother may discourage you, remembering the Dalkon debacle, according to a 2014 study in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.
But it’s not just older docs or moms who question IUDs: In a new Kinsey Institute study, researchers found that young women’s knowledge about the devices is alarmingly inaccurate. It’s time to dispel these myths—and keep our contraception options totally open.