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February 18,
2002

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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Survey: U.S. doctors wary of IUDs

Stanwood
Stanwood

In a first-ever survey measuring the use of intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) in clinical practice among a national sample of obstetricians-gynecologists, Nancy Stanwood, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and her coauthors report that U.S. physicians are reluctant to prescribe IUDs due to misconceptions about the safety of the option.

The survey reported that 20 percent of the physicians who responded had not inserted an IUD in the past year, and of those who did, 79 percent inserted 10 or fewer. Fear of litigation and a belief that IUDs cause pelvic inflammatory disease are two of the main reasons IUDs are so rarely used in the United States compared to other developed countries, Stanwood says in the February edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The biggest myth about today's IUDs, according to Stanwood, is that they cause pelvic inflammatory disease, which was linked in the '70s to the Dalkon Shield IUD. "It is exposure to sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia or gonorrhea that causes pelvic inflammatory disease, not IUDs," she says.

The report by Stanwood and her colleagues points out that modern IUDs fail less often than other forms of contraception and suggests that with education about the device's safety, physicians may be more willing to offer this method of contraception to women.



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