Kirsten Andersen

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‘I got toxic shock from an IUD,’ writes woman at feminist website

Kirsten Andersen
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SAN FRANCISCO, May 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – “If you are a woman of a certain age (ahem) and especially if you’ve had a baby, chances are that your OB has suggested an IUD as a form of birth control,” writes author Alice Myerhoff, as she begins to retell her near brush with death after the insertion of a copper intrauterine device, commonly known as an IUD.

Myerhoff, 43, was diagnosed with toxic shock syndrome three years ago, after agreeing to use an IUD at the urging of her doctor, who she said “pressured [her] into making a decision without much information.”

IUDs have been controversial since the 1970s, when the poor design of the popular “Dalkon Shield” IUD killed at least 17 women and led to hundreds of thousands of lawsuits over infections, injuries, miscarriages and unwanted hysterectomies. Today, the makers of the Mirena IUD are facing their own legal troubles as numerous women report serious injuries from the device. 

Despite this, the Obama administration is pushing the IUD as a highly effective, convenient alternative to oral contraceptives.  Copay-free coverage for the device is mandatory according to ObamaCare’s HHS birth control mandate, and pharmaceutical companies are aggressively expanding their marketing. 

Whereas the IUD was once considered suitable only for older women who have already had children and are willing to accept the risk of infertility associated with the device, companies are now marketing new, smaller IUDs to young women and teenage girls.

Myerhoff shared her own IUD horror story at feminist website XOJane, in an article called “It Happened to Me: I Got Toxic Shock From an IUD.”

“Within a few days [of insertion],” Myerhoff wrote, “I started really feeling like crap. Like sick-in-bed and exhausted-by-breathing kind of crap. I called the advice nurse several times. On each of these calls I made a point of telling the nurse that I had just gotten an IUD and asked if it could be related.”

Myerhoff said the nurse blew her off, telling her there was a “bad flu” going around and that she just needed to get some rest.

“Was she ever wrong!” wrote Myerhoff. “I had started having chills and sweats with my body shaking when the fever was going up.”

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Myerhoff stayed in bed for a few days, hoping it was just the flu, like the nurse had told her.  But then, she wrote, “I woke up with a red spot on my lower leg and it felt like I had run a one-legged marathon on that leg. I couldn’t walk without a limp and when I stood up I had an overwhelming pins and needles feeling in my calf. I called the advice nurse again who finally woke up out of her flu-fog and immediately scheduled a doctor’s appointment for that same morning. She was concerned that the red spot was a blood clot.”

At her doctor’s office, Myerhoff was ordered to report to the hospital for an ultrasound and emergency blood tests.  Emergency room physicians quickly determined that Myerhoff had sepsis, or blood poisoning, as the result of toxic shock syndrome.  Septic infections are fatal 25-to-50 percent of the time. 

Doctors pumped Myerhoff full of intravenous antibiotics and immediately removed her IUD.  Still, she says no one wanted to blame the IUD for the infection, even though there was no other explanation for her condition.

“The first night in the hospital was surreal,” Myerhoff wrote. “I had doctor after doctor introduce him or herself to me and then ask me all kinds of strange questions ranging from ‘Did you cut yourself with a razor or walk through some prickly bushes recently?’ to ‘Have you been sleeping with someone other than your husband?’ as they tried to understand how I could have gotten sepsis.”

Wrote Myerhoff, “I insisted that it had to be from the IUD but of course they didn’t like that answer. There’s culpability in that answer, among other things.” 

Eventually, it was determined that the insertion of the IUD had allowed a mild strep B vaginal infection to spread to her bloodstream.  A simple vaginal culture would have revealed the presence of the bacteria, but that test is not normally done before IUD insertion.  Myerhoff says the obstetrician who inserted her device came to the hospital to apologize.

Myerhoff was in the hospital for a full week, cut off from her children – a nursing baby and a five-year old.  She had to go home with a port implanted in her arm linked to a tube leading to her heart to allow continued administration of potent IV antibiotics.

One nurse told Myerhoff that her infection was so severe, it was a miracle she hadn’t ended up in the ICU.

“I do understand how lucky I am,” wrote Myerhoff. “I read an article in a women’s magazine a year ago or so about another mother who got sepsis and is now blind and had to have limbs amputated.”

Still, Myerhoff concluded, “IUDs ain’t all that.”  Myerhoff said she hoped that “[o]f the remaining years I spend on this earth … none of them suck like 2010 did.”

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