Recently I interviewed Tamara Wilder, founder of an Intrauterine Device (IUD) Awareness Group and IUD educator. She encourages women to share
their experience with IUDs so that women considering an IUD for birth control can gather more information beyond what little information conventional doctors provide in order to make an educated decision.
The information that Tamara shares is not widely known so we’re here to talk about how IUDs impact women’s health and women’s lives.
The following is the transcript of our conversation. Tamara is speaking (unless otherwise noted):
How does the IUD affect the body?
Women have had ways to prevent pregnancy since the beginning of time, putting herbs and other contraptions in their vaginas. The way the IUDs are purported to prevent pregnancy, you have to dilate your cervix to get the IUD into your womb.
In the past, when people were talking about preventing pregnancy, they were talking about putting something into the vagina, not into the cervix.
The IUD creates a state of inflammation in the uterus. When the uterus is inflamed, it doesn’t make a good ground for a fertilized egg to implant.
As a result the rate of ectopic pregnancies increases. Since the fertilized egg can’t find a place inside the womb, it goes up into the fallopian tubes. Those are dangerous pregnancies, it’s a life-threatening situation.
Pregnancy can happen with an IUD in place
Getting pregnant with an IUD in place happens much more than the IUD companies want us to know. There are so many women in the IUD Support Group right now that have gotten pregnant with their IUDs perfectly in place.Getting pregnant with an IUD in place happens much more than the IUD companies want us to know. There are so many women in the IUD Support Group right now that have gotten pregnant with their IUDs perfectly in place. Click To Tweet
Interview with Tamara
In the past three years, I have been putting a lot of energy into IUD awareness as part of my healing experience from what happened to me. I think it’s really essential information for women, especially since IUDs are being so heavily promoted right now.
Who I was before the IUD, and who I’m getting back to being now, is I have a company called Paleo Technics and for the last 25 years I’ve been practicing natural living skills.
I became enticed with it from the young age of 19 and I wanted to learn how to work with the earth, do things with my hands. I learned how to make string out of plants, how to make fire rubbing sticks together, and how to tan deer skin. I co-wrote a book on how to tan buck skin.
Tamara’s IUD Review and Experience
I should start by saying that I’m child-free by choice, and I’m almost 50 years old.
Until the IUD I had never used any body-altering form of birth control. Except for when I was 17, when birth control got pushed on me by a doctor before I was sexually active. He convinced me to take the pill. Birth control made me feel horrible, I bled like crazy and stopped.
After that, I never wanted to do anything like that ever again.
I called my naturopath, who I trusted, because I was needing to get back on fertility awareness again. Since I was more irregular than I had been in my 20s, I wanted to get more support.
My naturopath heavily promoted the original hormonal Mirena IUD to me. I said no, there’s no way I’m doing hormones and she moved on to the copper IUD and convinced me that it was my best option.
She talked me out of using fertility awareness again, saying that it wouldn’t work because I was in peri menopause. She said that I couldn’t depend on it…she’s the one who pretty much convinced me to get the IUD.
It had always rubbed me the wrong way, but her enthusiasm had me think I should just give it a try.
Looking back I realize my IUD side effects started right away but I didn’t realize it.—I had a lot of unexpected things going on in my life that month so I wasn’t giving enough attention to how much I was bleeding.
I was bleeding steadily and I didn’t stop bleeding for a week and a half after getting the IUD. I was thinking, “Ok, this is an adjustment time.”
When I look back, I see how abnormal it was.
The other early warning sign was that I had a massively sore tailbone. I could not sit down. It started a week after I got it—I couldn’t sit in the car, and it was constantly aching. It wasn’t until over 10 months later when I got on the support group with other women and I saw it in the side effects.
It’s considered to be an early warning sign. It has to do with the inflammation in that whole area.
What doctors say about IUDs
I called the doctor and told her how much I was bleeding and she told me to give it five months. They love to say that it’s totally safe and nothing can go wrong…They say that there is a 5-month period when your body has to adapt.
If something happens in the first 5-8 months they tell you to wait it out; it will go away. Sometimes the symptoms don’t go away and they cause even worse issues.
My big question now is, if your body has to adapt to something to that degree, does that mean that what it’s doing in its adaptive state is a healthy state? We do adapt to things, but that doesn’t mean there’s not something wrong in your body.
That’s one of the biggest things that led me astray and kept me from figuring out what was going on for so long. I just thought I had to adapt.
There’s something that it does to our mentality. We can’t see the big picture. We just want to get through the next day. Often it takes people close to us like our family members to tell us, “Hey, you’re a really different person right now.”
Why it’s hard to see the changes in your own being
The side effects seep into our existence. I look back and I didn’t see it happening. I didn’t see that I was becoming really negative. I was bleeding really heavily.
I was getting tired and overwhelmed with things…I realized I was bleeding so much and my energy was so low. I never had any warning or mention that it could effect my state of mind, so I didn’t question whether it was the IUD.
As I started becoming more irritable, feeling like life was really difficult, loosing my ability to think, I was loosing track of everything. All my bills were late. I couldn’t keep track of time.
I was not myself. I didn’t think it could be the IUD. These psychological symptoms were never listed as warning signs.
Since many warning signs are in the mind, you’re not tangibly seeing the changes, and you’re not able to advocate for yourself when you’re in that state of mind. It’s all very subtle.
Trust your partner’s intuition and the changes he notices
Withdrawing from friends is very important. Since I felt off, my friends weren’t seeing what was happening with me. I was withdrawn. I was too tired to see people. My partner was the first person who started saying that something wasn’t quite right.
I was changing a lot, and we didn’t have a long history so he was wondering if I had always been the way I was during that time.
That’s really common because a lot of women get IUDs when they’re embarking on a new monogamous relationship. A lot of times women get IUDs with someone they are planning to marry or are married to. A lot of times it ends those relationships.
In the support group it’s common for women to say that it completely destroyed their relationship with their partners. We allow men into the group who are in relationship with someone with an IUD. They are there because their partner is acting really strange. [Crying]
Since I had the IUD my emotions are very much more on the surface. They come up a lot easier. These men are trying to figure out what’s going on with their partners. They can’t convince their partner that it’s making them sick.
Carrie: I have that experience as well that my emotions are on the surface. When I had my IUD I was depressed and would cry at the drop of a hat. It’s been years since I had it, but I still have that same experience of my emotions being very close to the surface. Now that I’m much further into my adulthood, I wonder is it just how I am, is it my personality, or is it an IUD thing?
Tamara: I tell myself that once we’ve gone through this, it is who we are. We don’t know if it’s who we would have been without the IUD, but it’s who we are now and we have to do our best.
Should I get an IUD?
Tamara says, “I don’t think IUDs are worth the health risk for birth control alone. If all you need to do is prevent yourself from getting pregnant, I personally feel like the risks involved are not worth it.
“It’s sort of like Russian roulette. I call it IUD Roulette. You can never know if you’re going to be one of the people that gets shot down. The speed and the rate with which an IUD’s side effects can shoot you down is so devastating that I don’t think it’s worth the risk of trying to see if you are the lucky ones or not. Some women disagree with that and they’ve had great experiences.It's sort of like Russian roulette. I call it IUD Roulette. You can never know if you're going to be one of the people that gets shot down. The speed and the rate with which an IUD’s side effects can shoot you down is so devastating… Click To Tweet
“I truly believe that a lot of the side effects have nothing to do with what the IUD is made of. I think the predominant thing that a lot of women are experiencing is simply womb invasion. There is a foreign device in the body. The body reacts with anxiety, hair loss, weight gain.With IUDs, women are simply experiencing womb invasion. There is a foreign device in the body. The body reacts with anxiety, hair loss, weight gain... Click To Tweet
“I’ve also now become involved in a medical devices through the medical device support group. And it’s these same things that are happening with people with other medical devices. They’re getting implants put into their body. Our bodies react in a certain way having foreign device in the womb is one of the worst places to be putting a device.”
Medical IUD Propoganda
There’s a propaganda campaign going on. Health practitioners think the IUD is the golden cure and helps them get on top of unwanted pregnancy. There’s also a lot of people making a ton of money from IUDs. That’s where the misinformation is coming from. The practitioners who are promoting it are being propagandized and not seeing what’s happening.There’s also a lot of people making a ton of money from IUDs. That’s where the misinformation is coming from. Click To Tweet
Doctors are definitely prescribing IUDs fairly often and fairly regularly now. They’re prescribing the Mirena IUD for women that have PCOS and women that have endometriosis.
What I consider to be a really sad thing is young girls who are having really bad menstrual issues when they first start bleeding, doctors are giving them Mirena IUD to help control heavy bleeding. The reason for that is that the predominant side effect for the Mirena IUD, unlike the ParaGuard, Copper IUD, the Mirena hormonal IUD’s predominant side effect is that they very often cause women to stop bleeding or minimalize their bleeding.
A lot of women get the IUD strictly because they want to never bleed again. Women expect that their bleeding will stop since it’s a common side effect.
When I first started sharing my story and found out how many other women are suffering, I thought, “Of course they’ll have to take this off the market.”
The more I looked into it, the more I realized when I’ve tried to talk to health practitioners about not promoting it, I’ve gotten a big reaction. They are so pro and don’t want to hear anything against it.
They get really defensive. The same comes from women who have the IUD and they like it. They don’t want to have their birth control taken away. Those who are so fiery about it and nasty about it…I wonder if they realize that irritability is one of the side effects of having the IUD.
The reaction seems like an IUD side effect: they are being really reactionary and irrational. I was that way when I had the IUD.
I realized that I couldn’t put my energy into the wall that I encountered with the practitioners. The doctors just respond by saying, “it doesn’t work for everyone.” When I tell my story this is what they say.
Instead I put my energy into finding a way to let these women know that [the IUD] is not working for them.
What happens is women ask their doctors about the side effects and the doctors either don’t want to see it or aren’t educated to know the side effects. I was put on two kinds of anxiety medication for five months of pure hell when the IUD was causing the anxiety.
Those anxiety meds were their own problem.
Women come to the support group after 3-5 years searching for a solution. They’ve been medicated, they’ve had surgeries, without realizing it all started when they got the IUD. When we get the IUD removed, everything starts going away for the majority of us.Women come to the support group after 3-5 years searching for a solution. They’ve been medicated, they’ve had surgeries, without realizing it all started when they got the IUD. When we get the IUD removed, everything clears up. Click To Tweet
In my case, the side effects went away rapidly. I had the IUD for 10 months and I had a massive nervous breakdown. The anxiety hit the level of me thinking everything was going wrong. I now realize now my anxiety was my body telling me that it was being physically attacked by something inside of it.
I was debilitated for 5 months. My boyfriend was telling me it might be the IUD. My doctor said “There’s no way it could be related to the IUD.” When I finally made the connection five months later (ten months total), I got the IUD taken out and my anxiety was 90 percent gone by the time I left the doctor’s office.
Carrie: What’s coming up for me when you’re saying that the doctors say, “Absolutely not, it’s not that,” I believe it’s a huge liability. It’s a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.
Tamara: The class action lawsuit is a good segue. I started helping other women who are suffering. It’s not a question of if women should get IUDs, or not. For those that get them, a percentage of them will have trouble. I know that’s true because it happened with me. We are sharing our experience in hopes that women who are suffering will recognize it and make the connection for themselves. And be empowered to get the IUD taken out.
Tamara’s Mission: Educating women about IUDs
That’s my mission. There are more facets of educating and preventing women from getting IUDs in the first place, but it’s a huge battle when you go in that direction and I don’t have the energy or the time. There’s a tremendous number of women who are in crisis right now because they already have them.
When women share their stories, women considering an IUD can make their own decision by having more information.
My message is for women to educate themselves by reading the stories of women who have had it go wrong so that they can identify the symptoms. If I would have had the IUD awareness flyer that I made, I would have gotten that IUD out three months in no problem. [crying]
I didn’t have the education. I didn’t have somebody warning me. A lot of women that have joined our support group, read our stories, and they say, “I think I’m going to go for it. Hopefully I’ll be one of the lucky ones.” And there have been quite a few of them that come back four or five months later saying, “Wow, you were right.” [crying] “Thank you so much for telling me what the signs were because I started having them.”
Carrie: It seems like you are really passionate about this and you deeply care about helping women who are having these side effects and who don’t know. Because you didn’t know and you struggled for quite a long time.
Tamara: For me it was actually short. I thought it was an eternity. It was five months that I was debilitated. There are women who have gone three or four years with it, and I’m just amazed that they’ve made it.
I’m not somebody who’s ever had anxiety or depression before. My anxiety was my body trying to tell me that it was being attacked. It was 24/7 “Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong. Something’s wrong.” I couldn’t get away from it.
And finally when I got the IUD taken out the anxiety went away. There’s a whole list of other things: my hair was completely gone. It had been falling out by the fistfuls for the previous seven months. It stopped falling out two days after I got the IUD removed. I had massive insomnia, I could not sleep. I had a racing brain. I hadn’t slept for at least six months.
IUD Side Effects
Tamara made these fliers to help women identify early warning signs of IUDs.
This is a list of side effects and early warning signs that the IUD is not working for your body for the Mirena, Skyla, Liletta, Copper-7, Copper T, and Paragard IUDs:
Body expels IUD
Cysts in breasts
Dark brown blood
Hair falling out
Hair turning gray
Longer than normal bleeding
Lower back pain
Pain with or after sex
Shooting pains in body
Smelly discharges & Foul odors
Strange sensations in head & skull
Worsening of early warning signs
Common psychological side effects that begin or get worse with IUD
Bi Polar disorder
Becoming more compulsive
Detachment from body
Detachment from reality
Difficulty making decisions
Disconnection from intuition
Feeling numb to emotions
Going inside self
Hyper protective of self
Life feeling hard
Loss of libido
Loss of intuition
Loss of trust
Not feeling “quite right”
Not handling stress well
Not thinking clearly
SAD or GAD
Sense of impending doom
Suicidal & homicidal thoughts
Withdrawing from loved ones
Withdrawing from social situations
The people that founded Planned Parenthood were a big part of this development of the first IUD. At that time, Planned Parenthood was focused on eugenics. I was really astonished to when I was reading the history of early Planned Parenthood. I think Planned Parenthood is serving a really important role now, but it makes me understand a little bit of why they are, and why they serve the population that they serve.
IUDs were developed at the end of World War II and it was part of a eugenics program of people trying to figure out how to prevent pregnancy of people that they didn’t want to be reproducing in third world countries.
They were really not that concerned with the welfare of the women that they were using these things on. The original IUDs prevented pregnancy by causing a state of inflammation of the uterus.
Their whole thing is that they were in existence to help control the population of Third World countries and people of color.
They believed these populations had to be controlled because they didn’t want the population to grow and outnumber. That’s what eugenics was all about. These were the people that were really embracing the IUD and trying to promote it and trying to mass produce them.
It’s really hard to find out this information because of what happened in the 70s and 80s around the IUD because of the lawsuits that most people don’t know about.
Some of the people were saying that the inflammation alone wasn’t preventing pregnancy well enough. Women were having dangerous ectopic pregnancies.
In fact, the reason the right to life people are anti-IUD right now is because when you’re using an IUD that only prevents pregnancy due to inflammation of the uterus, it’s not actually preventing conception.
You’re having little mini miscarriages all the time. The egg will conceive and it can’t implant, you’re actually having a miscarriage.
That’s why the right to life people claim that IUDs are not prevention of pregnancy. The inflammation of the womb wasn’t enough, so they decided to just make more inflammation and that way would prevent these pregnancies from happening. Those people went down the route of making the Dalkon Shield design, which is the one that resulted in the biggest class action lawsuit in U.S. history.
The Ugly History of IUD LawsuitsThe little-known ugly history of IUD lawsuits: women left with gag orders and infertility. Due to the Class III Device rule, medical device companies aren't held responsible for faulty devices through class action. Click To Tweet
The Dalkon Shield
The Dalkon Shield was shaped like a hook. It touched the womb in as many places as possible to create as much inflammation as possible.
There was a cotton string hanging at the bottom of the device. The string was found to create infection in the womb. Because of these infections, womens’ hands were turning black and they were having massive PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), massive uterine infections and those were undeniably caused by the IUD.
As a result there was a huge class action lawsuit and it became the biggest class action law suit in U.S. history. It took years and years to settle. The lawsuit was against the company that was making the Dalkon Shield IUD: A.H. Robins Company. They are since bankrupt.
After the lawsuit the IUD was taken off the market and all these women were rendered infertile.
The lawsuit was a really, really big deal and it was successful. It was such a massive lawsuit.
Now, IUD development companies are able to claim that all the problems with the Dalkon Shield are not related to modern IUDs. They say the new ones don’t cause the same issues.
The development of the copper IUD was happening at the same time as this lawsuit. the Dalkon Shield was the first mass marketed IUD, but it was not FDA-approved. The people making the copper IUD were going for FDA approval.
A company called G.D. Searle created the first copper IUD and it was called the Copper-7. It was the first FDA-approved intrauterine device. The company, G.D. Searle, that made the Copper-7 also created aspartame. If I had known this, I never would have ever gotten a copper IUD. In the summer time, in the mid to late seventies the company was purchased by Monsanto.
When I found that out, my jaw dropped.
Some of the developers decided not to rely so heavily on inflammation as a way to prevent pregnancy because it was causing issues like perforation, ectopic pregnancy, and infection.
The developers decided to use copper because it was another material that’s toxic and helps create a toxic environment in the womb. This way, there is both inflammation, and copper toxicity.
A T shape or seven shape was the initial design of the Copper-7. With a seven shape, the IUD was only touching the womb in two places to cause inflammation. The copper also kills sperm.
G.D. Searle marketed it, and women were complaining that was causing infertility. They were complaining that it was causing issues, but these ones are really, really, really hard to research because of what happened next.
It’s so hard to find out what went on with these women that were the Copper-7 users because the case was settled. The women were having a lot of the same issues, but they weren’t having the same infection issues, the same rate of infections. There was still some PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) and the copper IUD used a plastic string. So it wasn’t wicking infections that the Dalkon Shield did.
And that’s how they’re really discrediting everything with the Dalkon shield lawsuit. They claim that the issues were caused by the cotton string and that issue has been corrected. They also claim the Dalkon Shield was touching the womb in too many places and causing too much inflammation and the new ones don’t do that.
Companies claim that the new IUD only touches the womb in two places so they don’t cause those kinds of issues. This is a way of discrediting what happened with the Dalkon Shield lawsuit and they are essentially able to ignore it.
The Class III Device Rule that excuses IUDs from class action
I found evidence that there were over 1800 lawsuits that were being filed against Monsanto and G.D. Searle in regards to the Copper-7. As the big class action lawsuit was happening, those companies that were the makers of the IUDs went to the federal government.
They told the federal government, We can’t be held liable for this kind of liability that this A.H. Robins Company had. They argued that if we are held liable for this kind of thing, we won’t be able to make new development, so we need to be protected from class action lawsuit in regards to these devices.
That’s when the Class III Device rule was created so that the Federal Government could protect these companies. If it wasn’t when it was created, it got put into the Class III Device rule. Now tons of implants and medical devices are classified as Class III Devices. Those devices are not subject to class action lawsuit so people can’t sue. They have to take individual lawsuits. They can’t be brought into a class action.
That Class III Device rule changed a lot of things. It was a really big deal. That’s why these individuals brought lawsuits against the Copper-7 against Monsanto and G.D. Searle because they couldn’t bring a class action against them. Monsanto settled all of the cases. In almost all of the cases that I’ve been able to figure out, they put gag orders on the women.
If they’ve settled with them, if they paid them out any money, they would not allow them to speak about it again. They swept the whole thing under the rug. They just said they took it off the market because they wanted it to not be a problem anymore.
And they said, “We’re taking it off the market, we’ll settle with you. Just be quiet about this whole thing.” And so they never had to admit fault to the Federal Government. They never lost the FDA status of approval on the Copper-7 even though it resulted in these massive lawsuits and lots of women having tons of trouble. It’s hard to find the information because it was hidden.
What happened with the Copper-7 is that they did take it off the market in the U.S., but from what I can tell they just kept promoting it and other countries.
The Mirena IUD
Bayer put hormones in the IUD so that women wouldn’t need to take their birth control pills. That was the first hormonal IUD, which is called the Mirana, the most popular IUD that’s marketed now.
The Mirena has the same hormones that are in a lot of the birth control pills and prevents pregnancy. It’s in the uterus and it’s supposed to kill the sperm. It still causes inflammation as well.
The modern IUDs are one or the other of either these copper IUDs that create a toxic environment in the womb, which they love to claim stays isolated to the womb; that the inflammation won’t go to the rest of your body. But we all know that in our bodies nothing’s isolated to one place.
Bayer went on to improve upon their Mirena saying that it’s only for adult women. Then they wanted to have one at younger women to use. And so then they started making a smaller one that has fewer hormones in it and it. Instead of lasting six years, it only lasts three years.
The Skyla IUD
Several years ago Bayer came out with the Skyla, which is being marketed towards teenagers: 16, 17, 18 year old girls. There have been been a lot of new ones in the last five years now that it also beginning developed by different companies.
How to help women with IUDs
I’ve been going around to events for the last couple of years for my work and I always have a little section of my booth at the event devoted to IUD awareness. At every event, women with IUDs come and talk to me. They’re reading my flyer. They say, “Oh my God, I have that.” We finish each other’s sentences because we understand.
If I had run into my IUD Awareness flyer; if I had run into me at one of these events when I was sick, I would have known instantly.
It’s been very gratifying because I immediately know that these women had been helped and then they write to me later and say, “I got it out. I’m so much better, thank you.”
It’s healing for me and it’s important work. By sharing our stories, we are affecting the lives of many women.
When I joined the support group that helped me most two years ago when I got my IUD removed there were 1800 members of the support group at that time. Now we are just shy of 10,000 people. That’s one of seven or eight support groups on Facebook that are all growing at that same rate.
That’s just such a small fraction of the women who are suffering and who don’t know what to look out for and who are sick and don’t know why. The more we share our stories, more women find our stories and either choose not to get and IUD or know what to look out for, and get their IUD removed early enough that they don’t devastate their health.
You can read more about all of this in the “Notes” section of the group.
Links & Sources: