“You spent the night in Brooklyn, but you left your birth control in Staten Island. Maybe the IUD is right for you.”
That’s just one of the various neon-colored posters of the latest New York City Health Department campaign, #MaybeTheIUD. As Mirror Daily reported, it’s a campaign aimed toward educating women about sexual health issues, like using condoms to prevent STDs and other infections.
As City Lab stated, it’s also the Health Department’s latest campaign “to raise awareness of and eliminate barriers to contraceptives.”
“What we like about it is the ‘maybe,’” said Dr. Deborah Kaplan, the assistant commissioner of the city’s Bureau of Maternal, Infant, and Reproductive Health. Instead of telling women that they need the IUD, the campaign is more about suggesting that it’s a choice — an affordable, safe, and effective choice that allows women to protect themselves and make their own decisions.
The IUD isn’t exactly the most well-known contraceptive on the market today, but more women’s health experts have begun advocating for it in recent years. The IUD (which stands for intrauterine device) is about the size of a quarter, made of plastic, and shaped like a “T.” It’s inserted into a woman’s uterus by her normal gynecologist, and it prevents sperm from fertilizing eggs.
It lasts anywhere from three to 10 years, depending on the type of IUD used. Plastic IUDs are wrapped in hormones, similar to those in birth control pills, but IUDs wrapped in copper coils have also become popular recently; copper IUDs require no hormone lawyers because the copper is essentially toxic to sperm.
The benefits of IUDs are pretty obvious when it comes to preventing pregnancies: with the pill, there’s a risk of forgetting to take the pills on time; with condoms, improper use and breakage often contribute to unintended pregnancies.
Even women with endometriosis, a painful condition where tissue grows outside of the uterus, may find relief from using an IUD. It’s estimated that over 13 million women in the U.S. suffer from this disease, and for those suffering from severe endometriosis, IUDs are often used in conjunction with other contraceptives to reduce the pain of uterine tissue growth.
The problem is, many women don’t realize that IUDs are incredibly safe and easy to get. They’re safe for adult women and for teens, they can be removed by a gynecologist at any time if the woman wants to get pregnant, they can be used even if a woman has a history of STIs or has been pregnant before, and they’re covered by the Affordable Care Act.
That last part is pretty significant, because a study recently published by Castlight Health Inc. determined that New York City is one of the top costliest cities for women’s health care services.
Birth control — and women’s health in general — has always been a controversial issue in U.S. politics and culture. But maybe the new IUD posters will help remind women that there are still many ways to stay healthy and safe.