Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Birth Control Health Center

Font Size

IUDs for Birth Control May Cut Cervical Cancer Risk

Study Shows Intrauterine Devices May Lower Risk for Developing Cervical Cancer
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Sept. 12, 2011 -- Women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) for birth control, even for a short time, have a lower cervical cancer risk than those with no history of IUD use, new research suggests.

Compared to women who had never used an IUD, the international study found that those who had used the implanted contraceptive had almost half the risk for developing cervical cancer, which is caused by infection with the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV).

IUD use is known to reduce endometrial cancer risk. But the impact of the birth control method on cervical cancer and HPV infection has not been clear, says study researcher Xavier Castellsague, PhD, of Catalonia, Spain's Institut Castala d'Oncologia.

The study is published online The Lancet Oncology.

"The good news for IUD users is that this form of birth control does not increase the risk of HPV infection and it appears to lower the risk for developing cervical cancer," he tells WebMD.

Castellsague and colleagues analyzed data from 10 previously published studies that compared women with cervical cancer to women without the disease and 16 HPV frequency surveys conducted in 14 countries.

The researchers concluded that IUD use did not affect HPV infection risk. But IUD use reduces the risk for developing both major types of cervical cancer: squamous cell and adenosquamous carcinoma.

The risk for both cancers was found to be reduced by nearly half during the first year of IUD use. A similar level of protection was seen in women who had used the implanted birth control device for as long as a decade.

Why IUDs May Lower Cervical Cancer Risk

The researchers have several theories that may explain how the implanted contraceptive protects against cervical cancer.

IUDs are small, T-shaped plastic devices placed in the uterus by a health care professional to prevent fertilization and implantation of the egg. One type of IUD is wrapped in copper while another type contains a form of the hormone progestin.

One theory is that the procedure to insert or remove an IUD may destroy HPV-related lesions before they become cancerous. Another is that hormone-targeting IUDs affect the natural history of HPV infection.

Today on WebMD

Here's what to expect.
man opening condom wrapper
Do you know the right way to use them?
birth control pills
Here's what to do next.
doctor and patient
His and her options.
Concerned teenage girl
hospital gown
Birth Control Pills Weight Gain
pregnancy test and calendar
contraceptive pills
Young couple looking at each other, serious
woman reading pregnancy test result