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Medical News & Perspectives
June 20, 2012

IUDs Effective but Underused Options for Emergency and Long-term Contraception

JAMA. 2012;307(23):2473-2474. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6004

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) for emergency contraception are highly effective but greatly underused, according to a new meta-analysis by a team of international researchers.

The researchers found that IUDs inserted shortly after unprotected intercourse have a failure rate of less than 1 per 1000 and are more effective than “morning-after pills” in protecting women from unwanted pregnancies. The meta-analysis, which included 42 studies conducted in 6 countries between 1979 and 2011 and involved 8 different types of IUDs and 7034 women, found a pregnancy rate of 0.09% among women using IUDs inserted from 2 to 10 or more days (74% within 5 days) after unprotected intercourse, a rate 10 to 20 times better than that found with emergency contraception medications such as ulipristal acetate and levonorgestrel (Cleland K et al. Hum Reprod. doi:10.1093/humrep/des140 [published online May 8, 2012]).