PHILADELPHIA — Despite studies finding IUDs are more likely to migrate and cause severe personal injury in younger women, Bayer Pharmaceuticals and doctors have been aggressively promoting the use of Mirena IUD to teens.

The Mirena intrauterine device (IUD) is a small T-shaped plastic medical device that is placed inside the uterus to act as a form of long-term birth control. It is said to provide contraceptive protection for up to five years and help treat heavy bleeding by releasing a type of progestin.

The popular IUD, however, has been the subject of thousands of lawsuits as an increasing amount of women have come forward suffering serious side effects or internal injuries. The most serious is the migration of the IUD out of place and throughout the uterus thus causing uterine or cervical perforations, ectopic pregnancies, scarring, infection, bleeding, pain, and infertility. When an IUD is expelled from the uterus, it may do so completely or partially. Out of 47,000 reports of defective Mirena devices, about half are related to expulsion.

Bayer and the medical community have been advertising the use of Mirena in busy moms and teens with the campaigns: “birth control for busy moms;” “just set it and forget it;” and “your bleeding can go away altogether.” The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued its updated Contraception for Adolescent guidelines. The updated guidelines calls on doctors to promote the use of newer long-term contraception strategies that include progestin-releasing IUD devices like Mirena.

Recent studies by the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology examined whether age was a factor in the expulsion of the Mirena IUD. The study (of 5,000 women) found that younger women, between the ages of 14 and 19, were more likely to experience IUD migration or expulsion than older women. Another study by the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that using a Mirena IUD (or other levonorgestrel releasing IUDs) may be associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. The study followed more than 93,000 women between the ages of 30 and 49. Researchers found that while the product did not cause an increase in the risk of lung, ovarian, pancreatic, or uterine cancers, there was a significant increase in the number of women with breast cancer. It was 19% higher than the normal population.

Despite the mounting evidence illustrating the dangers of Mirena, Bayer has continued to aggressively market the IUD to young women and teens. Doctors have also ignored the warnings of the FDA and the recent reports.

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