This Is How the IUD ACTUALLY Works

Here’s a nifty crash course in case you’re confused.

1. Recently, Colorado state Senator Kevin Lundberg was quoted as saying that IUDs potentially work by “stopping a small child from implanting.”

NBC / Via

This according to a recent article in the Coloradoan, about proposed funding for a program that would provide low-income women access to long-acting birth control methods like the IUD.

The authors of the article clarified that Lundberg was referring to a fertilized egg when he said “small child.” But… still.

2. Obviously, women do not have small children swimming around their uteruses.

So what was he talking about? Here’s what you have to know:

3. This is what an IUD is:

IUD stands for intrauterine device, which is a form of long-lasting, reversible birth control that a doctor implants into your uterus. Different kinds can last anywhere from three to ten years, and they’re over 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. Research shows they’re as safe for teens as they are for older women, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended them as an excellent option for adolescents.

4. Here’s how IUDs ACTUALLY work:

“The major mechanism of action is that it prevents sperm from getting up into the uterus,” Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine tells BuzzFeed Life. It also thickens the cervical mucus, making it a very hostile environment for sperm. “It basically kills sperm on contact,” says Minkin. It’s also possible that hormonal IUDs might stop the release of an egg, but that’s not the primary mechanism.

HOWEVER, if by some strange accident sperm does make it up there and somehow meets with an egg and fertilization occurs, it’s possible that the presence of the IUD would prevent implantation. How? “We’re not 100% sure. Many people think it’s an inflammatory response,” explains Minkin. Or it could be that the IUD thins the lining of the uterus, making it harder for an egg to attach. This doesn’t mean that it kills the tissue, it just wouldn’t implant, and you would have a normal period. That said, no small children would have been harmed in the making of that period. “What it would be is a collection of cells,” says Minkin.

Worth noting: Lundberg and others also characterize the IUD as an abortifacient (meaning it can induce an abortion), which is based on the fact that it prevents implantation. In order for that to be true, one would have to define life at the exact moment an egg is fertilized. However, it’s widely believed in the medical community that pregnancy doesn’t occur until a fertilized egg has been implanted in the uterus.

5. SO TO SUM UP: IUDs don’t reroute any small children swimming around in your fallopian tubes (smdh).

Getty Images Ryan McVay / Via

Sure, it’s possible that they could prevent implantation in very unusual circumstances. But even in that case, no toddlers would be involved whatsoever… because that’s not how female anatomy works.


This post has been updated with two additional mechanisms of the IUD in order to make it more comprehensive. BF_STATIC.timequeue.push(function () { document.getElementById(“update_article_update_time_4793892”).innerHTML = UI.dateFormat.get_formatted_date(‘2015-01-29 11:34:02 -0500’, ‘update’); });