By Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., REDBOOK
Q. I think of IUDs as scary contraception from the '70s, but my pals rave about theirs. Are they safe birth control?
A. I understand your worry. Decades ago, one intrauterine device (IUD) called the Dalkon Shield was suspected of causing sepsis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility; it went off the market in 1974. But the ones available today, Mirena and ParaGard, are not only safe, they're the most effective reversible contraceptive, with a success rate of nearly 100 percent.
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Here's how they work: Your doctor slides the IUD into your uterus through the cervix; once it's in place, it inhibits sperm and eggs' ability to fertilize or implant. You can leave an IUD in for five to 10 years, so if you've got a bad habit of missing the Pill, talk to your ob/gyn about making the switch.
Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., is an ob/gyn and a professor at Columbia University in New York City. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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