Doctors Conflicted about the Safety of IUDs, New Study Suggests

Doctors Conflicted about the Safety of IUDs, New Study Suggests Overview: Doctors are confused about the safety and efficacy of intrauterine devices (IUDs), according to a new study presented at the American Public Health Association meeting in San Francisco. Contrary to a recent recommendation from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, approximately half of the doctors involved in the study said they felt that IUDs such as Mirena® and ParaGard were a safe and reliable form of contraceptive in women who have just had babies.

  • Study shows that doctors are confused about which women can safely receive IUDs such as the Mirena; only about half of the doctors surveyed said it was safe for women who have just given birth
  • 30% of the doctors said IUDs were unsafe in women who have just had abortions
  •  Mirena IUDs are associated with uterine wall perforation, pelvic inflammatory disease and other risks that must be considered before use

Product: Mirena® intrauterine device (IUD)

Manufacturer: Bayer, Inc.

Side Effects & Complications

  • Miscarriage
  • Infertility
  • Intrauterine pregnancy
  • Streptococcal sepsis
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Perforation of cervix or uterine wall

Study Says Docs are Confused

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with associated with Ashley Philliber Research Associates, surveyed healthcare providers in family planning clinics located in Colorado and Iowa. According to a report in NBC, only about half of the doctors surveyed said they considered Mirena and Paragard a safe and reliable means of preventing pregnancy in women who have just had a baby. Additionally, approximately 30 percent of healthcare professionals felt that IUDs were unsafe for women who recently had an abortion. These findings, NBC reports, conflicts with recent recommendations from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology stating that IUDs are safe for almost all women.

Claire Brandis, study researcher and a director of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, told NBC that healthcare professionals at family planning clinics are more likely to be informed than the average doctor, meaning that misconceptions about IUD safety may be even more widespread.

Risks of Using Mirena IUD

Studies suggest that IUDs such as the Mirena are more effective at preventing pregnancy compared to other methods, but they also have significant risks. Women who have pelvic infections or get them easily should not use Mirena or ParaGard, NBC said. Neither device protects against STDs and Mirena is associated with hormonal side effects including weight gain, acne and mood changes.

Some doctors are also worried that the IUD could go through the wall of the uterus, particularly in women who have just had a baby or an abortion. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), uterine wall perforation is among the most serious adverse events reported among patients implanted with Mirena.