Letters to the Editor

Intrauterine Device: Acceptable Contraceptive Option


Am Fam Physician. 2005 Aug 15;72(4).

to the editor: We read with great interest the article1 in American Family Physician on intrauterine devices by Dr. Johnson. The author states that the contraceptive effects of the intrauterine device (IUD) are reversible after removal, but adds that long-term use of IUD (i.e., more than 78 months [6.5 years]) may be associated with increased risk for fertility impairment.1 However, researchers in one study observed that pregnancy rates in women who have the IUD removed because of a desire to become pregnant are similar to those in women who discontinued use of other methods of contraception.2 In women involved in monogamous relationships, there is no evidence of an increased risk of infertility after use of an IUD. Further, the World Health Organization (WHO) practice recommendations state: "The use of contraceptive methods, with the exception of male and female sterilization, does not result in an irreversible change in fertility. Return to fertility is immediate with all methods, with the exception of DMPA [depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera)] and NET-EN [norethisterone enanthate]."3

Although no cases of bacteremia have been reported following insertion of an intrauterine device,4 prophylaxis for endocarditis may be warranted when an infection is presented in the genital tract of patients who have susceptibility to endocarditis.5 Prophylaxis could be especially considered in developing countries where cardiac conditions might be more frequent or where genital tract infections could not be ruled out easily.

Recent systematic reviews4 do not recomend prophylactic antibiotics before insertion of an IUD. However, WHO recommends that “…in settings of both high prevalence of cervical gonococcal and chlamydial infections and limited sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening, such prophylaxis may be considered.”3 Studies addressing the question, “Are prophylactic antibiotics for IUD insertion of any benefit in preventing pelvic inflammatory disease in settings with a high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections?” are needed.

In developing countries like Turkey, where the use of modern contraceptive methods is lower than in western countries, the use of IUDs might be an excellent contraceptive option for women in long-term monogamous relationships.6 Despite misperceptions about IUDs, a major task should be to provide correct information to women and to increase the availability and use of this effective method of contraception.


show all references

1. Johnson BA. Insertion and removal of intrauterine devices. Am Fam Physician 2005;71:95-102. ...

2. Lippes J, Malik T, Tatum HJ. The postcoital copper-T. Adv Plan Parent 1976;11:24-9.

3. Selected practice recommendations for contraceptive use: technical meeting to develop consensus on evidence-based guidelines for family planning and to review the decision-making tool of the essential care practice guide. London, October 3-6, 2001. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002. Accessed online May 24, 2005, at: http://www.who.int/reproductive-health/publications/rhr_02_7/spr.pdf.

4. Grimes DA, Schulz KF. Antibiotic prophylaxis for intrauterine contraceptive device insertion. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2001;(2):CD001327.

5. Dajani AS, Taubert KA, Wilson W, Bolger AF, Bayer A, Ferrieri P, et al. Prevention of bacterial endocarditis. Recommendations by the American Heart Association. Circulation 1997;96:358-66.

6. Weir E; Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. Preventing pregnancy: a fresh look at the IUD. CMAJ 2003;169:585.

in reply: I appreciate the response from Drs. Yaman and Akdeniz. An important aspect of incorporating any guideline into practice is determining the demographics of the specific population. Many authors who are writing for American Family Physician (myself included) fail to remember that the journal is distributed worldwide. It is a benefit to the reader when our international colleagues share their experiences from a global perspective.

Send letters to afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680. Include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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