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What's making these little pieces of copper (or plastic) so darn popular?! Let's talk about the IUD.

What's making these little pieces of copper (or plastic) so darn popular?!

What's making these little pieces of copper (or plastic) so darn popular?! Let's talk about the IUD.

You've probably heard about IUDs, but have you ever wondered how they get in there?


IUDs are in the shape of a T, but don't worry. Your doctor doesn't just, you know, shove that T right on in because ... ouch, that would hurt. It's actually placed in an application tube with the arms down, so it's a single straight piece when it's inserted. Once it's pushed through your vaginal canal and cervix, it arrives in your uterus, where it will live.


At that point, the arms come out of the tube and are extended into the T shape. Then the tube is removed, leaving behind the IUD with threads that hang about three inches below your cervix. Those are important because they allow your doctor to make sure the IUD is in the right position. And don't worry — you won't feel them.


More stuff you might want to know about IUDs.

An IUD — short for intrauterine device — is a form of birth control that is inserted into the uterus. There are two options:

  1. Non-hormonal IUD: A small amount of copper keeps the sperm from fertilizing the egg. This is great for women who can't use hormonal birth control.
  2. Hormonal IUD: A low dose of progestin prevents fertilization.

IUDs last from three to 10 years, depending on which you choose.

Fun IUD facts, 'cause IUDs are fun:

  • Planned Parenthood has seen a 91% increase in IUD use since 2009.
  • In a study of female gynecologists, it was determined that they prefer IUDs for themselves to other forms of birth control.
  • Fewer than 1 of every 100 women who use an IUD become pregnant each year. The figure is the same for women who take the pill at the exact same time every day. But if you're not entirely consistent with the timing, the risk of getting pregnant increases to 9 of every 100 women.
  • Warning!!! Remember, the IUD prevents pregnancy, but not sexually transmitted infections!

Remember, the most important thing is to choose the right birth control method for you, but more information never hurt anyone! So share this to educate.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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