Women's Health Issue
A public health epidemic of unplanned or unintended pregnancies
In the United States, it is widely held that our healthcare system offers the utmost choice and highest level of care. Given the strength of the U.S. healthcare system, and the proven efficacy of IUDs, what is keeping American women from using them? Why is the number of women using this form of contraception so low in comparison to other industrialized countries?
- Restricted Access
- Economic Barriers
Setting the record straight
Today's IUD is not your grandmother's IUD
FACT: In 1970, the Dalkon Shield IUD was brought to market. In the four years the product was on the market, there were cases of unintended pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease and septic abortion associated with use.
FACT: In 1974, the FDA pulled all IUDs from the U.S. market. Dalkon Shield has NOT been available since.
FACT: Today, the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization agree that IUDs are safe and effective contraception for the majority of women.
Find out more
Mintz, Morton. "A Crime Against Women: A.H. Robins and the Dalkon Shield". Multimedia Monitor 7.1. Jan. 15, 1986.
Kolata, Gina. "The Sad Legacy of the Dalkon Shield." The New York Times. Dec. 6, 1987.
Beatty, Megan N and Paul D Blumenthal. "The levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system: Safety, efficacy, and patient acceptability." Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2009; 5: 561-574.
Sivin, I. "Dalkon Shield: Meta-analysis underscores its problems." Contraception, Volume 48, Issue 1, Pages 1-12.
The (mis)information gap among consumers
FACT: A recent study of young pregnant women found:
Only 50% had heard of IUDs
71% did not know that IUDs were safe
58% did not know how effective they were at preventing pregnancy
IUDs are largely unknown as a contraceptive option
Healthcare providers are sometimes part of the obstacle:
FACT: As of 2002, the majority of American medical textbooks contained inaccurate information about IUDs, with an excessive focus on the rare complications of IUD use
FACT: Many providers are hesitant to offer patients an IUD due to the low patient demand
FACT: Providers do not insert them often, leading some providers to feel inadequately experienced in inserting an IUD
Find out more
Continuing Education: Thomson Professional Postgraduate Services. Intrauterine Contraception Today. Vol 1.1 February 2007
Provider Checklist: Program Plan for Providing High-Quality IUD Services
Contraception option explanation: Click Here.
FACT: Only 22 states (including DC) explicitly permit minors to receive contraceptive services without a parent's consent.
FACT: 1% of all minors currently using reproductive health services would stop having sex if a law mandated their parents involvement in them obtaining prescription birth control.
REALITY CHECK: A lack of contraception does not keep teens from having sex; it just makes it more likely that they will have unsafe sex that results in unwanted pregnancy. Restricted access to contraception is impacting teen pregnancy rates, which are substantially higher in the U.S. than most other countries.
Find out more
"Facts on American Teens' Sexual and Reproductive Health." January 2010
Learn more about IUDs right here on our site and check out the groundbreaking work of the Guttmacher Institute. Knowledge is power! Knowing the truth about your contraception options is the first step in taking control of your body and making a change in your future.
Find out more
HRP 2002 "The IUD-worth singing about"
Obstacle 1: Insurance coverage and limited public availability
FACT: The U.S. spends the most money in the world per person, yet its infant mortality rates are surprisingly high and healthy life expectancy is low.
FACT: The U.S. health system ranks 37th in the world.
FACT: There were 45.8 million people without insurance in 2004, which is 15.7% of the population.
FACT: Given the shortcomings of the U.S.'s insurance coverage and healthcare system, many women get birth control from private healthcare providers, but about 25% of women go to publicly funded centers for contraceptive services.
FACT: Of the roughly 36.2 million women that need contraceptive services about half, or 17.5 million women, need publicly funded services.
Obstacle 2: Upfront Cost
FACT: The current cost of an IUD ranges dramatically, from $175-650 at Planned Parenthood to $843.60 for a Mirena® on the official website. Insertion must be done by a trained medical professional, often an additional cost.
FACT: IUDs and insertion are not covered by all insurance plans. The high upfront costs and pervasive lack of insurance coverage make it less attractive to uninsured and lower income women.
FACT: Over time, IUDs are the most cost effective form of contraception, but those that cannot afford the initial investment are left out of this savings.
The M360 Solution
In order to expand access to all women who need a reliable, long-term form of contraception, Medicines360 is developing a cost-effective IUD. We are currently testing an LNG-20 IUD product and hope to bring it to the U.S. market. Our website has more information about the clinical trial, click here to learn more.
Find out more
Guttmacher "Contraceptive Needs and Services, 2006"
Bureau of Labor Education. "The U.S. Health Care System: Best in the world, or just the most expensive" University of Maine, 2001.
Davis, Karen et al. "Mirror, mirror on the wall: An international update on the comparative performance of American health care." Commonwealth Fund. 2007.