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The real problem with women removing their own IUDs

August 31, 2021, 12:15 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Director Nia DaCosta sets a box office record, Texas’s abortion ban is set to go into effect, and women are removing their own IUDs. Have a great Tuesday.

– DIY IUD removal.  It’s one of the most cringe-worthy headlines I’ve read in a while: “Doctors are refusing to take out IUDs, so people are pulling them out at home—and posting how-to videos on TikTok and YouTube.”

My first thought: Ouch! 

But dig into the Business Insider story by sociology Ph.D. candidates Andréa Becker at CUNY Graduate Center in New York and Kathleen Broussard at the University of Texas, Austin, and you’ll find some reassuring takeaways: women who’ve DIY-ed IUD extractions say it’s mostly painless, some doctors are actually fitting IUDs especially for home removal, and both doctors and patients say a woman’s ability to take an IUD out herself is empowering since it gives her more autonomy over her body. 

Even if the procedure is mostly straightforward and safe, there’s still cause for alarm over what the trend represents: women pursuing an at-home solution because the standard procedure, removal by a medical professional, is either inaccessible or too expensive.

For some women, the cost of removing an IUD—$262 on average at clinics without a sliding scale for the procedure—is prohibitive; many insurance plans don’t cover it the way they do insertion. 

Other women ran into health care providers who “delayed or dissuaded” IUD removal, BI reports

Paige LeAnn, a full-time YouTuber whose IUD video has over 12,000 views, wanted her device out after two years because she said it caused weight gain, cramping, and depression. When LeAnn sought removal, one doctor suggested she get evaluated for anxiety instead. “He had never heard of ‘these symptoms,’” she said. Another woman, social-service specialist and YouTuber Tieesha Essex of Georgia, says her doctor would only remove her IUD if she committed to taking a different form of birth control, which she didn’t want to do. 

The popularity of IUD has jumped in recent years, but it’s baffling that the same health care system that so emphatically recommends the effective, low-maintenance form of contraception doesn’t fully support the entire spectrum of needs associated with the device—especially a woman’s decision to no longer use it. 

Claire Zillman
claire.zillman@fortune.com
@
clairezillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- The Candyman can. The horror movie Candyman took in $20 million this weekend—which made director Nia DaCosta the first Black female director to debut a film in the No. 1 spot at the U.S. box office. The movie's box office total takes second place for the most earned by a Black woman-helmed film; that top honor still belongs to Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in TimeDeadline

- Unsettled talks. Two women, ABC News producers Kirstyn Crawford and Jill McClain, have said they were sexually assaulted by Good Morning America producer Michael Corn (he denies the allegations). New reporting reveals that ABC owner Disney held unsuccessful mediation talks with the two women in June before Crawford filed a lawsuit. Wall Street Journal

- Abortion ban. Texas's "bounty hunting" abortion law is set to go into effect on Wednesday after a court canceled a hearing where pro-choice advocates planned to lobby a judge to stop the law from taking effect. Senate Bill 8 allows members of the general public to sue anyone they think broke the law, which bans most abortions at "fetal heartbeat," often before many women know they're pregnant. Texas Tribune

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former HPE chief talent officer Alessandra Ginante Yockelson joined Pure Storage as chief human resources officer. Claire Mulhearn is joining Agilon Health as VP and head of corporate communications. Ghida Dagher, former director of appointments for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will become president of New American Leaders and New American Leaders Action Fund. Home services platform Angi hired The Knot Worldwide's Dhanusha Sivajee as CMO. Maria Teresa Tejada joins Bain & Co.’s financial services practice as expert partner. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- The journey out. We're learning more about the Afghans who fled the country in the wake of the Taliban's takeover. Here, read about Paralympian Zakia Khudadadi and her journey to the Tokyo Games. Meanwhile, Behishta Arghand, a former news presenter with Tolo news, made it to Qatar. The 24-year-old is known for interviewing a member of the Taliban live on camera shortly after the takeover. 

- Landmark ruling. In late 2020, a Haitian judge ruled that a UN peacekeeper who fathered a child with a Haitian woman named Phanie owed thousands in child support. It was a landmark ruling with the potential to impact dozens of other families in similar situations, as this investigation shows. UN peacekeepers were stationed in the country between 2004 and 2017. BuzzFeed

- Behind R. Kelly. At the center of R. Kelly's trial are the associates, assistants, and managers who allegedly helped the singer contact and meet with underage girls and keep those relationships secret. Says one expert, Amos Guiora: "The impact of the enablers on survivors in many ways, long term, can be more devastating than the impact of the assaults because it’s the person that they trusted." New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, longtime partner wed in New Mexico Bloomberg

Cryptocurrency has a big gender problem CNBC

Which Elizabeth Holmes will show up at her trial? Slate

Naomi Campbell is undisputed The Cut

PARTING WORDS

"Life is too short not to be true to who you are and what you need."

-Actor Rachael Leigh Cook, now seen in Netflix's She's All That remake He's All That

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