The IUD As Emergency Contraception

A Chinese study performed by the National Research Institute for Family Planning states that ParaGard, also known as Copper IUD, works great as an emergency contraceptive when inserted 5 days within having unprotected sex. This study was published in BJOG.

The researchers followed up on 2000 women who received the Copper IUD for the purpose of emergency contraception within the five-day window for this treatment. These women had the device inserted at any one of 18 separate clinics. The women were examined after 1, 3, and 12 months after insertion. All but 70 women returned for the follow-ups. None of the women were pregnant before or at the time of their first follow-up visits.

Side Effects

The participants did experience some side effects such as heavier menstrual bleeding and other menstrual problems. Out of the participants, 29 reported that the insertion process was difficult and necessitated either a local anesthesia or treatment with prophylactic antibiotics.

Plan B

The common U.S. emergency contraceptive known as Plan B, works at preventing pregnancies in the U.S. only in one out of every 100 pregnancies. Women have been advised to keep these pills at the ready on the off-chance a need to use them occurs. It is felt that emergency contraception is an important option for women to have on hand.

But for now, it may not be reasonable to expect that a woman who is in urgent need of emergency contraception could be persuaded that the solution is to have an intrauterine device inserted into her uterus. First of all, it's not all that feasible that she could get an appointment for insertion within the five-day window, and second of all, it's a bit of a strain to think that most women could afford this type of emergency contraception. It may seem more sensible for a woman to get to a pharmacy and buy some Plan B.

Here are the facts: Plan B costs $50 over-the-counter. Also, depending on the HMO, a woman might end up paying over $500 to have ParaGard inserted. The price is a bit steep for many. Some experts have wondered how this study provides any real benefits if the results don't take into account the reality of most women requiring an emergency contraceptive.

But one expert who has long been in favor of emergency contraceptives, Dr. James Trussel, who heads up the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, said he wished that ParaGard would be used more often. He believes that if more women underwent IUD insertions instead of Plan B, there would be a longer term, and quite significant impact on lowering the rates of unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

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