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IUDs Work as Emergency Contraceptive: Review
Date:5/9/2012

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 9 (HealthDay News) -- Many women who need emergency contraception after unprotected sex are aware of the "morning-after" pill as an effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

Fewer may be aware that the intrauterine device (IUD) can also work as an emergency contraceptive. In a new review, researchers find that it is safe and actually more effective for emergency contraception than the morning-after pill.

Although IUDs have been studied for at least 35 years for emergency contraception, the use is not well known, said researcher James Trussell, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. "Our guess is that most gynecologists do not mention IUDs for emergency contraception," he said.

Trussell's review, which evaluated 42 studies on IUDs, is published online May 9 in the journal Human Reproduction. The studies were conducted in six countries from 1979 through 2011. More than 7,000 women were using eight different kinds of IUDs.

The IUDs, when used for emergency contraception, had a failure rate of less than one per thousand, or 0.1 percent, Trussell said. In comparison, other studies have found a failure rate of some morning-after pills is 2 or 3 percent. And some research has found that the pills don't work in women who are overweight, with a body- mass index of 26 or higher.

The new analysis reaffirms what is known about IUDs, said Dr. Jill Maura Rabin, chief of the division of ambulatory care and head of urogynecology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

However, she said, the IUD is not the best emergency contraception choice for every woman. It works best, she said, for a woman who decides after unprotected intercourse that she wants long-term but reversible birth control. IUD insertion requires a doctor's appointment, and is much more expensive than the morning-after pill, she
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