June 2012

Why don't American women use IUDs?

They're the most effective form of birth control, yet only five percent of women use them

The contemporary American woman has more birth control options at her disposal than ever before. From pills to sponges to rings to copper crosses, there's a whole wealth of ways to keep babies from happening inside our bellies. And as more women choose to delay having kids until their 30s or later, contraception becomes an integral, consistent part of our lives. Why, then, are we opting for the less effective methods?

New research indicates that IUDs are far and beyond the most effective form of birth control ever invented, ever. They outdo the pill and the NuvaRing by a whopping 20 percent. Yet only about 1 in 20 American women use them at any point during their lives. IUDs of all forms are catching on among women in the rest of the world, but here in the states, women largely forego them in favor of hormonal or physical alternatives. 

The statistic certainly seems counterintuitive. Why would anyone choose the product that only kind of works some of the time when a nearly foolproof alternative is available? But when you look into the culture of contraception and women's health in this country, the IUD avoidance starts to make sense.