Feb 22 Most women had inaccurate perceptions
about the safety and effectiveness of intrauterine devices
(IUDs) in preventing pregnancy, including not knowing that IUDs
are more effective contraceptives than birth control pills, U.S.
In addition, many didn't know that the devices don't
increase the risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease,
added researchers, whose work appeared in the journal
"It's not clear whether women have an overly optimistic view
of the effectiveness of the birth control pill or an overly
pessimistic view of the IUD," said lead author Lisa Callegari, a
clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington.
Whatever the source, these misperceptions lead to underuse
of "one of the most safe and effective methods" of birth
control, said Jeffrey Peipert, an obstetrics and gynecology
professor at Washington University, who was not part of the
IUDs, which include the brand name products ParaGard and
Mirena, are small plastic or copper-and-plastic objects inserted
into the uterus. They can be left implanted for years, and are
more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
In contrast, the birth control pill has been found in
real-world practice to be about 95 percent effective.
Callegari and her team surveyed more than 1,600 women
between the ages of 18 and 50 who had visited one of four
clinics in Pennsylvania. Five percent were currently using an
IUD and another 5.8 percent had used one previously.
Only about one in five of the women correctly stated that
IUDs are more effective at preventing pregnancy than the Pill,
and just 28 percent knew that an IUD is more cost effective than
the PIll when it is used for more than three years.
The women in the study were considerably more knowledgeable
about the risk of disease related to an IUD, with 57 percent
answering correctly that there is no greater risk of contracting
a sexually transmitted disease with an IUD compared to the Pill.
Peipert noted that IUDs have a bad reputation and so he's
not surprised they might be viewed less well. Thousands of women
sued the makers of one IUD sold in the 1970s because of injuries
sustained from infections.
"It's not surprising, because of the history of the IUD in
the United States, that people still have inaccurate perceptions
of the device," said Rebecca Allen, an assistant professor of
obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University, who was not
involved in the study.
Currently available devices are considered to be much safer,
she added, but more education is needed, including among
doctors, some of whom have outdated ideas about the devices.
According to a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), 28 percent of women of reproductive age
use oral contraception, followed closely by sterilization
methods such as getting the fallopian tubes "tied," used by 27
percent of women.
The same study found that IUD use had risen from 0.8 percent
of reproductive-age women in 1995 to 5.6 percent in 2010.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies)