Intrauterine devices (IUDs) provide a more effective method of contraception than the “morning after pill” and should be routinely used instead of it, according to experts.
Research found the “morning after pill” has a higher failure rate than “the coil”, which is a small plastic or copper device placed in the womb by a trained nurse or doctor.
The device, which should be put in place in the five days after unprotected sex, has been used as a method of emergency contraception for 35 years or more.
Eight different forms of IUD were included in the data used by researchers, which covered figures from in excess of 7,000 women. Researchers took into account data from 42 studies between 1979 and 2011 on the emergency use of IUDs in six countries.
The “morning after pill” was found to have a failure rate of between 1% and 3%, while IUDs on the whole did not work in just 0.09% of cases, according to the results in the journal Human Reproduction.
Kelly Cleland, the study’s lead author from Princeton University in the US, said: “Unintended pregnancies are a significant health problem worldwide.
“It is estimated that globally at least 36% of pregnancies are unintended. We already know from previous research that IUDs are very cost-effective forms of regular contraception.”
- Cleland K, et al. The efficacy of intrauterine devices for emergency contraception: a systematic review of 35 years of experience. Human Reproduction 2012; Advance online publication