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    Apr 29, 2020

    I Got Pregnant With An IUD And My TikTok Story About It Went Viral

    Here is my story and some facts from a professional.

    Hi, I'm Krista and I got pregnant with an IUD.

    Although this happened several years ago, I recently decided to share my story on TikTok to see if something similar had happened to anyone else:

    Basically, my now-husband said having sex with me was painful (and we knew neither of us could have an STD), so my OB-GYN said it sounded like my IUD may have come out of place. I was told to take a pregnancy test — but that it would likely be negative. I took it and it was positive, so I was told to immediately go to the emergency room. Once I got there, they performed a transvaginal ultrasound, where they spent about 45 minutes looking for the pregnancy, but all they found was an IUD that was perfectly in place.

    So over the course of the next two weeks, I had to give blood to monitor my hormone levels. If my estrogen kept going up, then I was pregnant. And...it kept going up. So I was brought in for another transvaginal ultrasound where, they were able to see the fetus this time. It was inside my fallopian tube. I had an ectopic pregnancy and they had to operate immediately or I could potentially die.

    They performed a laparoscopic surgery on me to remove the pregnancy. (It's a procedure where they make several small incisions and use a tiny video camera and light to perform the surgery. In my case, they expanded my stomach with air so they could see better.)

    Everyone kept asking me if I kept the Paragaurd IUD in and, if not, what I used for birth control now.

    People were surprised to learn that I actually kept the Paragard IUD in. So let me explain why I did. My mom — who is a nurse — kept telling me that an IUD is the most effective form of birth control and that what happened to me with the IUD could have happened with any birth control because no option is 100% effective. (SIGH.)

    Since my series of videos went viral on TikTok — generating over a million views — I thought this was a topic to dive further into. Plus, I still had A LOT of unanswered questions surrounding my experience. So I spoke to expert, Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, who is a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale University's School of Medicine. She had some great information about IUDs and very informative insight on my situation:

    Krista Torres

    Me: One of the reasons I kept the Paragard IUD is because I was told it is the only long-term contraceptive on the market that doesn't use hormones. (The hormones have had bad side effects on me in the past when I've used birth control pills.) Is this true about the Paragard? How do the different kinds of IUDs work? Lastly, are IUDs really the MOST effective form of semi-permanent, long-term birth control.

    Minkin: Yes, copper IUDs — like the Paragard — are the only long-term birth control on the market that do not use any hormones whatsoever. Other IUDs, like the Kyleena and Mirena, use small doses of synthetic progesterone to prevent pregnancy. Both types have a similar mechanism of action. Often times, people want to know if the IUDs prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg. While this can happen as a back-up method, the primary mechanism of action is that both the copper and the progesterone are very hostile to sperm, making it nearly impossible for the sperm to get up into the uterus in the first place.

    I would say — because of human error, like the possibility of forgetting to take a birth control pill — IUDs and contraceptive implants are the most effective form of birth control, with about 99% effectiveness.

    Krista Torres

    Me: My husband never felt the pain he felt with the IUD the two years leading up to the ectopic pregnancy, nor has he the seven+ years I've had it in after. So I still don't know what caused it to hurt for him if it was in the correct place. I never felt any pain and the strings were in place.

    Minkin: I was perfectly ready to say your IUD was coming out at that point and that's what he felt, but I'm not sure what to make of it in this case. With something feeling that uncomfortable, my assumption is that it could have partially fallen out, but, somehow or another, got back inside. I must confess I've never heard of that, but it is possible — and it's one of the only explanations I can think of that is plausible in this case. An ectopic pregnancy is not painful for the partner, but they can be painful for the person who has it. One of the warning signs of an ectopic pregnancy is that the woman experiences lower abdominal pain, however, she may experience no symptoms at all. IUD strings can feel funky for people and they can get 'poked' by them, but we try to trim the string short so it doesn't bother people. Occasionally we do get that complaint and people want them removed. The strings weren't the issue in your situation since your husband only felt that pain the one time.

    Krista Torres

    Me: Basically, did the IUD cause my ectopic pregnancy?

    Minkin: If you look at the incidence of ectopic pregnancies, it is actually smaller in people who have an IUD than those who do not have an IUD, or aren't using contraception. However, if you do get pregnant on these forms of contraceptions, you have a higher chance of it being ectopic. It's a miracle that something gets up inside because both the copper and progestin IUDs are pretty good at killing sperm. I think, in your case, if it was going to latch in the fallopian tube, it was going to latch and the IUD didn't have anything to do with it.

    Krista Torres

    Me: I've heard if you have a normal pregnancy — in your uterus — while you have an IUD, they just leave it in and you give birth earlier. Is this true?

    Minkin: This is not true. If a person has a pregnancy in their uterus with an IUD, and they want to keep the pregnancy, then the IUD always comes out. In the old days, there were people who got pregnant with IUDs and they ended up getting infections in the last trimester and got very ill — some people even died. So the recommendation is to take out the IUD. Taking out the IUD can lead to a miscarriage, but some people can carry the pregnancy successfully.

    Krista Torres

    Me: I feel lucky in the fact that they were able to save my tube. Is it rare that this happens?

    Minkin: It depends on how far along people are in the pregnancy. There are several reasons why we can save a lot more tubes than we used to. One of them is that the pregnancy test technology has become phenomenally better over the last 40 years when it comes to detecting pregnancies early. Another reason is that we've had the better development of ultrasounds. With transvaginal ultrasounds, you can see things incredibly early. Because of these things, if the pregnancy is caught early enough, there is a higher chance the tube can be saved.

    Krista Torres

    Me: What is the likelihood the scar tissue in my fallopian tube will prevent me from getting pregnant in the future?

    Minkin: If there are no tubes anywhere, the eggs actually get absorbed by the belly cavity. Most people don't realize that the tubes to the ovaries are not attached to each other. The egg is actually free floating in the belly cavity for a bit after it's released, and the fallopian tubes come by to suck it up. The fimbriae – finger-like projections at the end of the fallopian tubes — suck up the egg when it's wandering by. So it picks up the egg and brings it into the fallopian tube. If you do have a significant amount of scar tissue that is not allowing the egg to pass through, it will just dissolve itself in your tube. Of course, you can still get pregnant from your other tube if this is the case.

    Krista Torres

    Me: If the IUD didn't cause my ectopic pregnancy, how was I to know if I was at risk in the first place? I don't have pelvic inflammatory disease, so was it just a fluke? Do I have a higher chance of having another ectopic pregnancy now that I've had already had one?

    Minkin: People who have a history of pelvic inflammatory disease do have a higher chance of having an ectopic pregnancy. You are at higher risk of having another ectopic pregnancy since you've already had one. However, that does not mean you will have one. The odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that you won't. It could be due to your genetic makeup, but honestly it likely is you just had — pardon my language — shit luck.

    Krista Torres

    Me: Several people have told me that I could have been given Methotrexate — a drug used to terminate pregnancies — to expel my ectopic pregnancy and avoided surgery. Why did I have to have a surgery and can Methotrexate expel an ectopic pregnancy?

    Minkin: It depends on the numbers of your quantitative blood pregnancy test. There are certain numbers where it basically becomes less likely that the method of Methotrexate would work. The size of the ectopic and certain hormone levels that are taken into consideration. Most of the time, if we catch the ectopic pregnancy early, we can avoid surgery and give the patient Methotrexate to end the pregnancy.

    Krista Torres

    Me: I know there are many options on the market, but is there one that is deemed the "safest" overall?

    Minkin: If somebody wants absolutely no side effects whatsoever, a condom, contraceptive foam, or a diaphragm are very safe. They have no hormones and no gadgets – but, the problem is they have a higher failure rate. If you use them, knowing you will get a first trimester abortion if they fail, there have been statistical papers that say this is the safest method of contraception. First trimester abortions are a very low risk for causing complications. The problem with this is it puts you through the emotional issues of having an unplanned pregnancy, which is a significant emotional issue for many people. In addition, most people don't want the inconvenience of using a barrier method and having to use it every time.

    I would say birth control or IUDs with low levels of hormones can offer lighter periods and less cramps. There are all sorts of pluses and minuses as far as what is the best for you. You should talk to your doctor about what contraceptive is best for your needs. There is not one method that I can say is the best or the safest, BUT, what I can say, is that all methods are really quite safe.

    I hope this has helped answer some of your questions about pregnancy and IUDs. You can follow me on TikTok for more crazy stories about my life...because I have a lot!!! Stay protected out there everyone!

    FX