Birth control pills are not the only option for women looking for contraception. An intrauterine device, or IUD, is a plastic, t-shaped medical device that a doctor inserts in through a woman’s vagina into a woman’s uterus.
There are two types of IUDs, hormonal and copper. The most popular of the hormonal IUDs is Mirena, which releases progestin in order to help prevent pregnancy. Manufactured by Bayer Healthcare, Mirena works by several different mechanisms:
- physically blocks sperm
- thickens cervical mucus
- thins uterine lining
- may inhibit release of egg
The copper IUD uses copper, which is toxic to sperm to create a hostile environment in which sperm can not survive.
Despite the fact that IUDs are extremely effective and have been advertised as having very low risks, many women have suffered serious side effects as a result of having an IUD. The following are the most common complications associated with IUDs
Device Dislocation. This occurs when the IUD migrates from the top of the uterus into other parts of the body. A dislocated device can puncture other organs, including the bladder, liver, and stomach, causing severe pain and complications, and the need for immediate surgery.
Infections. There are two common scenarios that result in infections. The first is the risk of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease which usually arises within the weeks following placement of the device. The second risk of infection is from device migration. In cases that an infection results from dislocation, a woman may not even know that the device has migrated or caused serious problems until serious symptoms occur, including:
- chills and fever
- abnormal vaginal discharge
- abnormal menstrual cycles
- pain during intercourse
Perforation of the Uterus. Perforation of the uterus may occur when the IUD is being inserted, or it may occur when the device becomes dislodged and migrates out of the uterus, puncturing it first.
Warning signs of uterus perforation include:
- nausea and vomiting
- chills and fever
- rapid heartbeat
- heavy bleeding
- lower abdominal pain
There are many serious, long-term effects that can result from uterus perforation. First and most dangerous, when the device perforates the uterus, it is then free to migrate to other areas of the body and can puncture other organs as well. This can result in serious infection, and may necessitate a doctor to perform surgery to remove the device. This could render a woman infertile.
In order to fully diagnose the damage done by the IUD, a doctor will have to perform an ultrasound to locate the device, and a blood test to diagnose whether an infection has set in. Surgery may often be required to remove the device and to repair the damage done to internal organs.
Ectopic Pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when an embryo implants somewhere outside of the uterine cavity. Most commonly implantation in an ectopic pregnancy occurs in the fallopian tubes, but it can also occur in the abdominal cavity, ovaries, or the cervix.
Mirena’s label warns that up to half of all pregnancies that occur on Mirena are ectopic, and this number excludes women who are at high risk for ectopic pregnancies to begin with.
Ectopic pregnancies can be very dangerous for the mother’s health, especially because they can result in a rupture which can lead to hemorrhaging and loss of future fertility. In rare but very serious situations, ectopic pregnancies resulting from conceiving with an IUD can be fatal.
Symptoms of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy include:
- Drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Severe abdominal pain
- Severe pressure in rectal area
Have you experienced negative side effects on Mirena or another IUD?
If you have had an IUD placed and have experienced device dislocation, uterine perforation, or any other serious side effects, the medical device attorneys at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP are here to help. This is a stressful time: you are likely facing mounting medical bills and unforeseen health complications. We are here to help. When you call our offices, you will speak directly to an attorney. We want to provide you with the immediate answers that you need. Contact us today for your free case review.