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IUDs 'highly effective' as emergency birth control

Intrauterine devices are a ‘highly effective' method of emergency contraception, concludes an analysis of recent evidence by a group of international researchers.

They looked at 42 studies involving 7,034 women that analysed the effectiveness of IUDs provided as emergency contraception in preventing pregnancies.

They found a pregnancy rate (excluding one outlier study) was 0.09%, with IUDs fitted within two days to 10 or more days. The majority of insertions (74% of studies) occurred within five days of intercourse.

After post-coital IUD insertion, there were 10 pregnancies, resulting in an overall failure rate of 0.14%.

Study leader, Professor James Trussell, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University and visiting professor at the Hull York Medical School, said: ‘IUDs are a highly effective method of contraception after unprotected intercourse, because they are safe for the majority of women, highly effective and cost-effective when left in place as ongoing contraception.'

‘Whenever clinically feasible IUDs should be included in the range of emergency contraception options offered to patients presenting after unprotected intercourse.'

Human Reproduction 2012, online 8 MayHHum

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