“When they go right, they’re great, but when they go wrong, they go really wrong,” I joked with a colleague recently as we discussed a call we had received on the sexual and reproductive healthcare hotline we give referrals on. It wasn’t the first call we received from an uninsured woman looking for a facility for where she could get a transvaginal ultrasound so a provider could locate her IUD that mysteriously disappeared from her uterus.
According to Planned Parenthood, the IUD or intrauterine device is quickly growing in popularity as a LARC method for many women. In addition to other long acting reversible contraception methods like Nexplanon, an IUD is a small t-shaped piece of plastic that a medical provider inserts into a woman’s uterus to prevent pregnancy. Popular brands include Paragard, Skyla and Mirena, the latter which can last up to six years using the hormone progestin to thicken cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to enter the uterus and sometimes even stopping ovulation altogether. The sexual health site also reports that although the odds are slim that a woman will get pregnant while using an IUD (1 out of 100 women using one will get pregnant each year), if she does it’s important that it is removed or results can include an ectopic pregnancy.
Apparently the odds were in Lucy Hellein’s favor. The new mother recently posted her “IUD fail” in a viral Facebook post (that has since been removed) of her newborn son Dexler holding the Mirena IUD that was supposed to prevent his conception. The caption read:
“Mirena fail! Dexter Tyler, 27 April 2017 @ 0840 (His original due date was May 4th). He is 9 lbs 1 oz, 21.5 in.”
The Fort Mitchell, Alabama mother revealed to Metro that she’s used IUDs for a long time because they’ve been so effective. She had her most recent one inserted in August, but found out she was pregnant in December. She assumed she was only a few weeks along until an ultrasound confirmed she was actually 18 weeks pregnant:
“My Mirena was nowhere to be found on ultrasound so my OB assumed that it had fallen out. But I wasn’t convinced.”
Hellein’s suspicions were confirmed when doctors discovered the IUD behind her placenta during the C-section performed for Dexler’s birth. She later posed him for a picture holding the Mirena that must have fallen out of place before his conception.
According to Planned Parenthood guidelines, the IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control, but if a woman has an IUD inserted at any other point of her cycle other than during a period, there is a small chance she could become pregnant if no back up method such as a condom is used while having sex.
Doctors who spoke with Yahoo Beauty reported that the chances of a woman becoming pregnant with an IUD in place are rare but not impossible and that doctors should attempt to remove an IUD if a woman does become pregnant or her chances for miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and preterm labor rise significantly. Jessica Shepherd, MD, an assistant professor of clinical obstetrics and gynecology and director of minimally invasive gynecology at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago told the site that once a woman is over 12 weeks pregnant, it’s best to leave the IUD in place:
“The earlier the pregnancy is, the more likely you are to not disrupt the pregnancy. If the pregnancy is further along, it can potentially disrupt it.”
Hellein says that although Dexler wasn’t planned, she and her family are still happy that he’s here:
“Dexter was definitely meant to be. His original due date was May 4th and even the doctor said ‘the force was strong with this one’.”
“Although he wasn’t planned, my family and I feel incredibly blessed.”
Have you ever had a negative experience with an IUD or gotten pregnant while taking any type of birth control?