MONDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- A female contraceptive device whose reported side effects kept it off the frontline of birth control for years has been formally endorsed for all healthy adult women and adolescents by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The endorsement represents a new chapter in the history of intrauterine devices (IUDs). The T-shaped pieces of plastic laced with copper or hormones to prevent pregnancy may raise the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease, which can result in serious complications, including infertility, according to the Mayo Clinic.
But many experts say that risk is small, and the new recommendations, published in a Practice Bulletin in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, replace guidelines issued in January 2005.
At that time, only women who had given birth and were at low risk for sexually transmitted diseases were considered routine candidates for IUDs. However, researchers say other women and adolescents have been using them, despite the lack of official endorsement from the organization until now.
IUDs, once unpopular in the United States, are "safe" and "cost-effective," said Dr. Adam Jacobs, medical director of the family planning division at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
"What you see now is a rethinking of the idea of how to prevent unintended pregnancy," said Jacobs, calling IUDs the "most cost-effective form" of birth control available.
Jacobs, also an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, said the new guidelines reflect what has been the practice at bigger teaching hospitals for some time. At Mount Sinai, adolescents and adult women have received IUDs for three years, he said.
Another expert agreed that IUDs have been in common use for several years.
"It's really not new," said Dr. Jill Rabin, chief of the ambulatory care division a
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