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Friday 25th May 2018

IUD an effective emergency contraception

10th August 2010

A copper intrauterine device (IUD) is an effective emergency contraceptive, according to a recent Chinese study.


The device used in the study, the Copper T380A (Copper T), marketed as the ParaGuard in some countries, was effective for all study participants a year after insertion.

James Trussell, who studies birth control methods at Princeton University, and was not involved with the current study, said that the Copper T was by far the best contraceptive option for women, though many people did not know it existed.

For the study, 2,000 Chinese women used the device after they had unprotected sex during the past five days.

In follow-up visits, doctors examined the women every few months.

During the first follow-up visit, most of the 2,000 women returned and confirmed that they were not pregnant.

One year after the women were given the IUD, the doctors made another tally of the number of women who had got pregnant.

About 1,500 of the original women returned for the one-year follow-up, and four of them had got pregnant. About 100 women elected to have the device removed.

The Copper T can be used for about 10 years before it needs to be replaced.

The device works by stopping sperm from fertilising eggs, as well as by preventing embryos from attaching themselves to the walls of the uterus.

Study co-author Emily Godfrey, of the University of Illinois Medical Center, said that researchers had noticed before that the Copper T might work well as an emergency contraceptive.

She said that, in previous studies, researchers estimated that 1 in 1,000 women who had the device inserted after unprotected sex would become pregnant.

By comparison, 1 in 100 women who take Plan B, an over-the-counter pill for emergency contraception are likely to get pregnant, if they take the pill within 3 days of unprotected sex.

Godfrey said that, until now, doctors did not have enough evidence to conclude that the Copper T would definitely work as an emergency contraceptive.

Suzan Goodman, of the University of California, in San Francisco, who has studied the use of Copper T, said there was a lingering misperception in the minds of some women about IUDs.

She said that the device was extremely safe, and that if it were widely adopted, there would be less abortions and lower rates of unplanned pregnancy.

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