Intrauterine devices. The optimal long-term contraceptive method?J Reprod Med. 1999 Mar; 44(3):269-74.JR
To review selected data on the effectiveness, safety, cost and technical ease of intrauterine device (IUD) use compared with Norplant and surgical sterilization.
IUDs are highly effective, safe and relatively inexpensive methods of contraception that may offer advantages for some women over other long-term methods, such as sterilization and Norplant. IUDs provide protection against pregnancy comparable to that provided by female sterilization, and they may be more effective than Norplant. IUDs have a long duration of effectiveness: the copper T 380A (TCu380A) is effective for at least 10 years, and the levonorgestrel (LNg) IUD appears to be effective for at least 7. Norplant is effective for only five years. Both types of IUD can disrupt menstrual bleeding patterns, although the patterns of bleeding are different. Copper IUDs often increase blood loss, whereas the LNg IUD, like Norplant, substantially reduces menstrual bleeding. The most important adverse outcome associated with IUD use is higher rates of pelvic inflammatory disease; careful attention to proper insertion techniques can reduce this risk substantially, and LNg IUDs may cause no increase in risk. IUDs, like both sterilization and Norplant, provide no protection against sexually transmitted disease. The TCu380A IUD is extremely cost-effective. There is as yet no public sector price for the LNg IUD, which has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is not provided by family planning donor organizations. If it can be made available to the public sector at a price substantially less than its present market price, the LNg IUD would be a useful addition to the contraceptive armamentarium for developing countries.
Providers, consumers and family planning program managers should begin to see IUDs as potential substitutes for both surgical sterilization and Norplant.