IUDs in use

The insertion of intrauterine devices (IUDs) to prevent the implantation of fertilized ova in women has had a rocky history in the U.S. and I am not sure how to address an issue with which I have had some fifty-five years of experience. A summary article from the Kaiser Foundation indicates, at a minimum, that that is unusual. It seems to be generally assumed that the device is removed and/or replaced every five or ten years.

I should perhaps note at the start that I am personally averse to doctor visits and, until my 79th year took no regular medications. My last illness which required a doctor visit, before the recent diagnosis of Afib) was in about 1981 when I was diagnosed with a case of mononucleosis and advised to rest for a couple of weeks. In 2014 I developed a pain in the gluteous maximus and, when other causes were ruled out, I relied on physical therapy (exercises) to effect a gradual reduction. Pain is still not all gone.

However, I suspect that my pain threshold is rather high. I may even be insensitive. My three pregnancies and deliveries were, if anything, pain deficient (for the first it was the 27 hours in hospital without food and water that almost did me in). Certainly in comparison to the signal sent by an inflamed appendix or even the occasional menstrual cramps, the pangs of giving birth were mild.

In my teen years I thought six children would be enough. However, when the second arrived 14 months after the first, I was convinced that rate could not be sustained in good health. So, I had the first of two coiled plastic IUDs installed. Two years later I had it removed and in mid-1969 I requested a new doctor in a new city to install another one.

It was a good thing I had taken note of the first unit, which had obviously been effective, because the new doctor wanted me to describe what was wanted. That he was not expert became obvious when he left the strings for its eventual extraction too long and I had to have them snipped by the GP.

In any event, I discovered that three lively children getting into mischief are quite enough and the IUD stayed in place. At the five year point, which was the recommended period for replacement, the GP and I decided not to mess with what was obviously working. Occasional very heavy menstrual flows suggested that implantations were being effectively prevented. I decided to wait for menopause.

Then I discovered that it’s called “pause” because of the propensity for the menses to stop and start up again. Having briefly considered what Germans call “ein NachkŨmmling” (a child that arrives many years after the initial batch), we decided against doing the parent thing again (I now know that never stops anyway). So, the IUD stayed and, since it is no bother, there is no reason to remove it. Besides, over time, I came to think of it as an experiment.

While I realize that the health professions need a steady income and success means little repeat custom, I am not keen to undergo internal or external inspections. My pre-pandemic bout of intestinal distress that escalated to difficulty breathing and an eventual diagnosis of an enlarged heart, leaking valve and Afib was not reassuring. When I resisted the suggestion that the leak be fixed, the surgeon prescribed some pills and said to come see him in a year. Not an indication of urgency.

Of course, a year later was in the middle of the surging pandemic and doctor visits were discouraged. Having cut the number of pills in half, I will be reasonably content as long as the prescriptions get renewed. If they are not, I will just stop taking the pills. After eighty one has to make the best use of one’s time and, in a manner of speaking, tie off loose ends.

Now that the medico/surgical termination of pregnancy is top news, I do think that preventing pregnancy by non-chemical means needs to be discussed. That IUDs have evolved into hormone dispensers to satisfy the pharmaceutical industry is disgusting. Images of plastic coils are not even to be found. Data collection focuses on women under 44. Old women apparently do not count because they are not a revenue stream.

Money is not the root of evil. Intent, to the extent it is perverse, is evil and money covers it up. Snake oil salesmen. Don’t blame the snake, the oil or the money he collects. “Welfare” was the founders’ objective. We have yet to see it realized.

General Welfare. How did “general” come to have two opposite meanings? How did a word that means widespread or unspecific come to mean top dog? Was that imported from the Prussians by Benjamin Franklin? In the same mechanism in evidence in the transformation of “sanction” from approval to punishment? Is it an example of intentional deception?