A woman in Alabama named Lucy Hellein posted the now-deleted photo of her newborn son on Facebook, captioning it “Mirena fail!” Since his original due date was May 4th, she included a reference to the famous Star Wars quote with the cheeky (yet accurate!) hashtag, “The force was strong with this one.”
The photo was shared thousands of times online—but many people were left wondering if it was real. After all, an IUD is more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, according to Planned Parenthood. As Hellein told Florida’s First Coast News, the picture is indeed real, but staged—a nurse actually placed the IUD in her son's hand after it was found during her C-section.
Still, the idea that a woman got pregnant with an IUD is more than alarming for anyone who relies on this form of birth control, which is rapidly rising in popularity. An IUD, or intrauterine device, is a small, T-shaped piece of flexible plastic that’s inserted into a woman’s uterus during a quick procedure. A hormonal IUD, like the Mirena, which Hellein had, works to prevent pregnancy by releasing the hormone progestin, which thickens the mucus in the cervix to stop sperm from fertilising an egg. It also keeps the lining of the uterus thin so it’s not a hospitable environment for fertilisation, explains Sherry A. Ross, M.D., women’s health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period.
“If they’re inserted correctly, they are 99.9 percent effective—more effective than a vasectomy,” Ross explains. So how did this happen? "This IUD may not have been inserted correctly or may have displaced itself after being inserted," Ross says. While uncommon, it can happen. That’s why Ross uses an ultrasound to help ensure an IUD is placed in the right location. You can also check that it’s still in place every month after your period by feeling for the strings, and watching out for any irregular bleeding or pelvic pain, which can be a sign it’s been displaced, Ross says.
The bottom line: Don’t let this one scenario scare you away from using an IUD. “They’re a very safe, effective, and efficient form of birth control for women, especially those who are sensitive to hormones,” Ross says. Bonus: “They also make periods lighter or even non-existent.” That’s a win-win in our book.
This article originally appeared on Womenshealthmag.com.