OHSU Logo The contraceptive known as an intrauterine device or IUD seems to be completely safe, highly effective and long-term reversible. A fresh study undertaken by the Oregon Health & Science University suggests that women receiving IUD immediately following a first trimester abortion face few complications and are less likely to have an unintended pregnancy. Those asked to make an appointment for a later date and do not return apparently have more chances of experiencing another unintended pregnancy.

The study comprised 575 women aged 18 and above who requested abortions at Oregon Health & Science University and three other U.S. academic health centers. These women were randomized into two groups. While one group was provided with an IUD within 15 minutes of their abortion, the other group received an IUD two to six weeks later. Six month later, 258 women who immediately received IUDs reportedly had no adverse affects and no pregnancies. However, more than 90 percent of the women were allegedly still using the device.

“Immediate use of any contraceptive method after abortion has been linked to a reduced risk of repeat abortion with the immediate use of an IUD being the most effective method for reducing this risk. However, federal policy makes access a challenge, particularly for low-income patients,” elucidated Paula Bednarek, M.D., principal investigator and an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

From the 226 women who underwent delayed insertion, five became pregnant but no significant adverse events were registered. Scientists mention that all were not using IUDs; in fact 77 percent employed the device at six months. Most women who were randomized to the delayed insertion group did not return to get an IUD placed and instead chose a substantially less effective contraceptive method or none at all. It was concluded that if women who would like to receive an IUD after an abortion but may not return to actually receive the IUD are under a severe threat of having another unintended pregnancy.

The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.