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Routine IUD checks ‘unnecessary’

Regular checks for women with intrauterine devices are unnecessary to detect abnomalities such as pelvic inflammatory disease or ectopic pregnancy, a UK study shows.

GP researchers examined retrospective case records of 272 women using IUDs for at least two years and found no significant difference in the time to first major adverse event between patients who attended for systematic checks frequently – once every two years - and infrequent attenders who presented when they experienced an adverse event, including menstrual changes or expulsion of the device.

There was a significant difference when any adverse event was considered, and a median ‘survival' times of 72 days for frequent and 397 days for infrequent attenders.

But for all types of checks – not just those following an invitation from a GP - there was a significant difference in median time to any adverse event, of 217 days in frequent and 644 days in infrequent attenders.

Study author Dr Isabel Drape, a GP in Ruby, concluded: ‘Patients were making reasonable decisions as to whether to attend or not, and were able to assess for themselves whether they were in need of professional attention.'

J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care 2011, online 1 August