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Birth Control Health Center

Copper IUDs Found Safe, Effective

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In his study, Hubacher studied about 350 women who had infertility caused by blocked fallopian tubes, the type of damage believed to be associated with IUD use. He compared these women to around 950 women with infertility that was not caused by blocked tubes. He also studied over 580 healthy women who were pregnant for the first time. He asked all the women about copper IUD use and also tested them for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia.

While use of a copper IUD was not associated with infertility, chlamydia infection was associated with blocked tubes. The risk of chlamydia was greatest among women with multiple sexual partners or whose single partner had multiple partners. As Darney puts it, "it's the man, not the IUD" increasing the risk of infertility.

Hubacher says as many as 100 million women worldwide are using IUDs, with the copper IUD among the most popular devices. Darney says U.S. women may soon be catching up "because women who are now seeking [birth control] don't remember the Dalkon Shield story and doctors being trained today are also unaware of this history."

But Hubacher and Darney both point out that an IUD does not provide protection against sexually transmitted diseases. "Women with multiple partners should practice safe sex using barrier protection like a condom in addition to the IUD," says Hubacher.

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