After the birth of my first child, my husband and I knew we wanted to wait a while before trying to get pregnant again. At my six-week post-natal checkup, I was ready to have the birth control discussion with my doctor. As a nursing mom, I didn’t realize my choice for birth control would be so limited. I discussed all the options with my doctor and settled on having an IUD (intrauterine device) placed. An IUD is a small (about the size of a large paperclip) T-shaped device that is implanted in the uterus and releases a low dose of hormones AND causes disruption of fertilization to prevent pregnancy.
For the device and placement, my insurance would cover all but $100. The IUD would prevent pregnancy for up to five years and could be easily removed at anytime when I chose to become pregnant again. My doctor assured me that use of an IUD was a safe, effective method of preventing pregnancy, would make my periods nearly non-existent, and would eliminate the unpleasant side effects that can come from taking a birth control pill. I happily paid my $100 and scheduled my IUD placement for a few days later; it all sounded too good to be true.
A follow-up appointment a few weeks later confirmed a successful placement of the device. My doctor advised me to check vaginally once a month to feel for the threads that project from the device. Feeling for these threads ensures that the IUD remains in proper, effective position. A month later I attempted a “thread check” and became very anxious when I was unable to feel the device. After a few more unsuccessful attempts to locate my IUD, I called to schedule what I thought would be a quick, easy doctor’s appointment to prove my worries were just that … boy was I wrong.
Upon vaginal examination, my OBGYN was unable to visualize the device so onto ultrasound I went. Unable to locate the IUD with both abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds, I was sent to the radiology department at my local woman’s hospital to be examined under their stronger, better equipment. Following yet another vaginal and abdominal ultrasound by a technician, the radiologist was called in to see if he could locate the elusive IUD; he, too, was unsuccessful. At this point I’m very anxious, scared and pretty convinced the device would be lost in my body forever.
Finally, I was sent for an x-ray of my entire abdomen, which revealed that my IUD had escaped my uterus and was residing on top of my left ovary. I was immediately sent to see my doctor, yet again, to schedule exploratory surgery for the next day to remove the device. I was a new mom who had recently returned to work from maternity leave and had to take more time without pay to undergo surgery. Thankfully, the surgery was quick and my doctor was able to easily locate and remove the IUD. However over the coming days, I suffered tremendous cramping and heavy vaginal bleeding caused by the removal.
I wish the story ended there, but it doesn’t. Two years later, I suffered a miscarriage at 11 weeks of pregnancy. My OB/GYN assures me that my miscarriage could’ve just been a coincidence, but there is no way to rule out that my loss may have been caused from my rouge IUD. What ever the case may be, I hope that sharing my story with others will raise awareness of the dangers that these seemingly harmless devices present that the medical industry continues to produce and promote.