IUD Birth Control Side Effects May Include Risk of Rheumatoid Arthritis: Study

  • Written by: Irvin Jackson

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The findings of a new study suggest that the use of the Mirena birth control and other intrauterine devices (IUD) could trigger crippling joint problems in women. 

In findings presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine indicate that women may face more than a doubled risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis if they use the birth control implants, which have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to provide long-term protection against pregnancy.

Intrauterine devices (IUD) are T-shaped plastic implants designed to be placed in the uterus to provide a “hassle-free” form of birth control, avoiding the need to remember to take a daily pill. Also referred to as an interauterine system (IUS), the most widely used forms of the birth control are marketed under the brand names Mirena, which releases the progrestin levonorgestrel, and Paragard, which contains copper wire coils around the plastic frame.

Looking at data on nearly 1,000 women, the researchers in this new study looked at side effects of various different birth control methods, evaluating impact of the birth control on blood levels of antibodies that scientists have linked to the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Known as antibodies to citrullinated protein antigens (ACPA), elevated levels can indicate someone will develop RA in the future.

The study found that side effects of IUD birth control were associated with a 268% increased chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life, while those who took daily birth control pills actually had a reduced risk, compared to women who used no contraception at all.

IUD birth control has become a more popular alternative in recent years, as a number of different groups have recommended the implant for younger girls who may be at risk of failing to adhere to use of a daily birth control pill.

According to a recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, use of IUDs has increased from only 2.4% of women in the U.S. in 2002, to 8.5% by 2009. Planned Parenthood has also reported a 75% increase in IUD risks from 2008 to 2012.

The findings about the potential link between IUD birth control and rheumatoid arthritis come amid increasing concerns over potential problems with Mirena IUD birth control in particular, which has been linked to reports of the implant perforating the uterus and migrating to other areas of the body, potentially causing infections and other complications requiring surgical removal.

Since 2000, more than 70,000 adverse events have been filed with the FDA involving Mirena IUD complications, including at least 5,000 cases involving women who indicated that Mirena moved out of place since 2008, and 1,322 reports where the Mirena IUD punctured the uterus.

There are currently more than 2,000 Mirena IUD injury lawsuits pending against Bayer Healthcare in state and federal courts nationwide, which all allege that the drug maker knew or should have known about the risk of spontaneous perforations, which can happen months or even years after the implant is put in place and confirmed to be in the proper position.

The first federal Mirena bellwether trials involving the migration injuries are expected to begin in March 2016.

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  1. Marianne Reply

    This has happened to me I think. I had an IUD for several years until I started having pain in the area and other health problems. I have now been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which has also turned into graves disease and Chilblains disease. I have had to quit two jobs because I can not perform the physical labor that I have for most of my adult life. For a while I was barely capable of looking after my son, now I take medication every day.

  2. Sonua Reply

    I had cooper coil 2 months before and I have got very stiff and painful neck, shoulders and hand like arthiritis type symptoms. Day by day it’s getting worse. I can’t weight to get rid of it but I need to wait all day in family planing clinic for appointment. 2 daughters under 3 can’t wait with me and I’m struggling with this pain

  3. Shannon Reply

    I have an IUD and RA and this makes sense especially when all my labs are coming back normal maybe it’s why how do I find out?

  4. Samantha Reply

    I had one put in April of 2015 due to my age and risk of hormonal birth control. By July I was having a lot of pain and stiffness in my joints. Nov. I went to urgent care with my shoulder locked up. The following month it was the other side. They told me it was tennis elbow, whatever. January I couldn’t get out of my bed due to my hip. By Feb. I was tested for RA. , it was positive. I have lost jobs, unable to do daily activities at times and it has been a financially draining. I am 49 with a 8 year old sonand feel like I’m 80. I asked my rhumatologist about it last year and she blew it off. Does anyone have any suggestions on where to go ? I plan to go next month to have it removed but don’t know if the effects will go away. Not to mention all the side effects from the medication I have been on for 4 yr. I was perfectly healthy before having it put in .

  5. Alexandra Reply

    I had paragard inserted in April of this year. I was perfectly fine, I eat healthy and I’m very active, I exercise at least 4 times a week. All of a sudden I started experiencing pain and my left knee, I brushed it off thinking I injured it on one of my workout, fast foward to August and the knee pain is still there, but now it’s swollen and I have a limited range of motion. I went to the doctor and was told to limit my exercise and no jumping, running or squats and was told to take ibuprofen. I did as the said and my knee did not get better, my right ankle started hurting. Again I went to the doctor and was sent to orthopedics for my knee and ankle, they took xrays of my knee and ankle and I was told my xrays where ok and showed no signs of arthritis, that it was all due to overusage and to just continue taking ibuprofen and gave me a knee brace and ankle brace and to wear super soles on my shoes. My knee still hurts, my ankle too, now the bones at the bottom of my feet hurt, my right knee started to bother me, I cant walk right, I’m in pain if I stand or walk to much. I try to stay active and exercise, but I’m in pain afterwards.This can’t be normal! I started to think it might be the IUD. It all started after me getting it. I’m making an appointment to have it removed.

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