Examining barriers to use of intrauterine devices (IUD)

Placing a copper IUD within 5 days of unprotected sex offers 100% effective emergency contraception (EC). Yet copper IUDs are rarely recommended by health care providers when women request EC. A new study in Obstetrics & Gynecology by UCSF Bixby Center researchers examines why providers recommend this highly effective form of EC so infrequently. The study found that providers were more likely to recommend the copper IUD as EC when their views about who could IUDs were in line with updated patient eligibility criteria. Other recent research has shown that when women know they can use a copper IUD as EC, some prefer it over emergency contraceptive pills.

It’s not just health care providers’ attitudes about IUDs that affect use; women’s views are another part of the equation. According to new research from UCSF Bixby Center, some women like the idea of being able to remove their own IUD—so much so that they might be more willing to try using an IUD in the first place. Women who liked the idea of removing their own IUD said it was because they would feel more in control, and it would save them the hassle of a doctor's appointment. Health care providers don't have enough information to offer the option of self-removal yet. More research is needed to learn what information is important for women interested in this option, and confirm that removing one's own IUD is safe. The researchers plan to conduct a study addressing these questions in the coming years.