Over the last decade, the IUD (intrauterine device) has become an increasingly popular form of birth control. According to Planned Parenthood, IUD usage has risen 75% since 2008. However, this birth control method has some terrifying risks that are more common than you think.
Melinda Nichols of Chillicothe, Ohio decided to get a Mirena IUD after her youngest son was born. However, when Nichols visited her doctor for a follow-up appointment after inserting the IUD, the x-ray showed no signs of an IUD ever being there. According to the New York Post, the doctor told Nichols "it fell out."
Nichols thought she would have seen if her IUD had fallen out, but her doctor insisted that it can happening without one noticing. The doctor even suggested she get a new one, without even doing a full x-ray of the rest of her body. Nichols ended up getting a tubal ligation instead and moved on with her life.
Nearly 11 years later, Nichols was visiting another doctor's office for a strained muscle where she had an x-ray done of her abdomen. The doctor told her, "You need to call your OB." Why? The x-ray showed that her lost IUD had actually punctured through her cervix and had been floating around in her abdomen for over a decade, something her other doctor would have known had they done their job more thoroughly.
Obviously, no one gets an IUD thinking it will perforate through their uterus, but the complication happens to about one of every 1000 patients. According to Broadly, Bayer, the pharmaceutical company behind Mirena, was "facing about 3,000 US lawsuits involving spontaneous uterine perforations from the Mirena" as of 2015.
Nichols recalled getting weird pains in her side, but didn't think it was serious. "You don’t go to the doctor just because you have a weird pain every once in a while." Had she not had to get an x-ray of her back, who knows how long the IUD would have been floating around, risking internal bleeding or damage to other organs.
Nichols has since had the IUD removed. Although she hasn't been back to the doctor who originally inserted the IUD, she hopes her story will inspire other women to speak up to their doctors and make sure they doing their jobs more thoroughly.