A woman inserted a metal spring into her vagina thinking it would work as birth control, leaving it inside her body for approximately six months.
The unnamed woman, from Zhongshan, in South China’s Guangdong Province, thought the spring would act as an intrauterine device (IUD) – commonly known as the coil – to prevent her getting pregnant.
However, it didn’t work, with the spring only being discovered when the mum-of-three arrived at hospital heavily pregnant and requesting an abortion.
According to gynaecologist Fu Junhong, the 31-year-old went to Minzhong Hospital when she was five months pregnant – well into her second trimester – to request the termination.
Only when doctors went to check on the health of the baby did they made the shocking discovery of the spring, which measured five centimetres (two inches) across and was stuck inside her body.
Doctor Junhong, who treated the woman at the end of July, recalled:
She was five months pregnant and came to our hospital for an abortion procedure. During our checks, we found rings lodged between her vagina and cervix – it was a spring which had already been enveloped by her vaginal tissue.
The spring had to be removed via emergency surgery, with surgeons forced to use a pair of pliers to cut the spring apart – because they couldn’t remove it all in one go. As such, the spring was removed from the woman’s body ‘piece by piece’.
The spring was cut into seven individual pieces, each of which was extracted from the patient’s body in an operation lasting 40 minutes, the hospital said.
Doctor Fu continued:
She thought inserting a spring into her body would prevent further pregnancies. She found it on the floor of her workshop. She picked it up, gave it a wash and then inserted it. It is unclear what she does for a living.
She did by herself about half a year ago. It was greatly unscientific, and very unhygienic.
Fortunately, the 31-year-old suffered no tissue damage or infections, and she was discharged from hospital shortly afterwards. It’s not known whether the mum-of-three continued with the abortion.
As per the NHS, an IUD is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device which is put into your uterus and releases copper to alter the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg and survive.
When inserted correctly – by a doctor or a nurse in a safe, hygienic environment – the coil is 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy.
It is not known which circumstances led the mum-of-three to insert the spring inside herself, although it is a tragic indictment of the lack of sex education across China.
As per Sixth Tone, a survey by the All-China Women’s Federation found that 80 per cent of adult respondents did not fully understand contraception, with more than 36 percent saying they rely on the pull-out method alone (something which is only 78 percent effective for preventing pregnancy).
Although the national government stipulated that sex education should be incorporated into primary and middle school curricula in 2011, it remains insufficient or absent entirely in many places across the country.
With many parents believing sex ed will make their children more promiscuous, and with some school textbooks teaching premarital sex will harm girls and their reputation, it perhaps becomes less surprising that this mum-of-three believed the spring would work as an IUD.
It’s clear that access to a better sex education is needed to prevent future incidents like this, and to ensure women across the country are aware of all options available to them before engaging in risky sexual behaviour.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).