Controversial birth control undergoes redesign

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DENVER -- Medical experts have reported that the IUD (intra-uterine device), a controversial form of birth control, has been redesigned and will make a comeback.

“Women of my generation used the IUD, but we're seeing the highest use now in about 30 year,” said Vicki Cowart, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Liz Sunshine, one of millions of women using the IUD, said it fits her lifestyle.

“I decided that as far as stability and ease of use goes it is most appropriate for my needs,” she said.

The device is placed inside the uterus to prevent conception. It's an appealing choice because it offers continuous, effective birth control, but some women will experience brief pain during the process.

Though, Sunshine described the pain as temporary and said, “the actual insertion, I guess was a little painful, but after a week I was back to normal.”

In the 1980s, there were concerns that the IUD caused negative side effects, like excessive bleeding and infection in some women. But the device has since undergone a redesign.

"The equipment that was problematic is no longer available,” explained Cowart.

The IUD can cost between $500 to $1,000 up front -- more than the cost of birth control pills -- and can involve a small co-pay each month for insured patients.

In many cases, the high cost can be covered by an insurance company, so long as a health-care provider inserts the IUD. The device can last for up to ten years, and can be removed upon request to allow for pregnancy.

Sunshine said the one-time insertion and longevity of the IUD is the main benefit.

"Before I had the IUD, I was on the pill," she said. "I don't miss the pill, and if I don't have insurance, it doesn't matter. It's still effective because it's still there."

Birth control has come a long way since Planned Parenthood first opened its Denver offices in 1916. But medical experts said one thing has never changed, women need to get as much information as possible before making a decision about family planning. Even with recent improvements, doctors have said some women just may not be able to tolerate the IUD and even experience several months of pain.

An exam will provide a doctor with enough information to determine if an IUD is the right choice. You can learn more about possible complications associated with the IUD through Planned Parenthood or WebMD.