IUD As Emergency Contraception?

Think the morning after pill is the only way to prevent pregnancy if the condom breaks? Think again! Apparently, having an IUD inserted is more effective than emergency contraceptive pills.

A new study published in the journal Human Reproduction showed that a copper IUD used as emergency contraceptive was extremely effective at preventing pregnancy:

The study analyzed data from 42 studies conducted in six different countries (China, Egypt, Italy, The Netherlands, USA and the UK) between 1979 and 2011. They found that, women became pregnant at a rate of 0.09 percent if they used an IUD, as opposed to 1 to 2 percent pregnancy rate on the morning-after pill.

As interesting as this study is, I don’t foresee a rush to get IUDs after every birth control failure. In the US at least, there are some barriers to getting IUDs:

“Here are the problems: the IUD has to be inserted and most of the time, ordered,” said Dr. Jacques Moritz, director of gynecology at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York. “They are way overpriced in this country. You can’t just walk in my office and get an $800 IUD. We have to get it authorized and ordered.”

An $800 IUD, along with the cost of doctor visits (not to mention time lost if it needs to be ordered) is out of reach for a lot of women, compared to the morning after pill which is available at pharmacies for $100 or less without a prescription for women 17 and older. There’s also the issue of the IUD preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which is a moral issue for some women.

The other issue is the fact of IUD’s being a much longer-term decision than the morning-after pill. The articles about this study don’t talk about whether the IUD is expected to become the woman’s primary means of contraception after insertion (IUDs last between 5 and 10 years and need to be removed by a doctor) or if they end up being a very expensive short-term solution.

While it’s nice to know there are additional options of available to women who have a birth control failure, I don’t think this will change current emergency contraception practices significantly.

Photo credit: Photo stock

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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