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Many doctors confused on IUD safety for contraception

Nov 9, 2012

A new study shows that many physicians across the country may not be aware of the risks associated with using interuterine devices (IUDs), like the Mirena, as a form of contraception.

This lack of current knowledge regarding the safe and effective use of IUDs turns into misinformation relayed to women who are considering a device like Mirena as their form of birth control. This could put some at risk of serious side effects or it could be steering women away from the devices when no evidence of risk is known. New research from Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, shows that as many as half the physicians in the U.S. may be misguided or misinformed about the use of IUDs. 

Much of this information may be coming from the makers of Mirena IUD, Bayer Inc. Reports in the past have suggested that Bayer created an online social networking group to market Mirena. Ads for pharmaceuticals placed online are not fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration but when these ads are found to overlook or ignore the side effects of drugs, the agency has stepped in in the past. 

This social group was hosted through the site, Mom Central, and the compay arranged impromptu "Mirena Parties" where women would discuss the benefits of using a Mirena devices. Bayer marketed Mirena for "busy moms" as the devices are generally only used by women who've already had one child.

In the recent study, which included data compiled during a widespread health survey and done in two periods (once in 2010 and again this year), showed that as many as half the doctors interviewed said they believed IUDs were not safe for women who had just had a child. Thirty percent of doctors said they believed IUDs like Mirena were not safe for women who had just had an abortion.

These beliefs go against clinical data that suggests otherwise, that Mirena and other IUDs were safe and effective for each of those groups of women, but it shows that doctors may not be up-to-date on the latest information available on these devices. That includes knowing of the dangers these devices pose, despite the studies that say they're safe and effective. 

Mirena and IUDs are implanted in the uterus and designed to prevent pregnancy. One device can be implanted for up to five years. During that time, many women have suffered serious and some life-threatening side effects as a result of the dangerous devices. Previous research has linked IUDs like Mirena to uterine perforation, miscarriage, infertility or at least increasing the risk of infertility, intrauterine pregnancy, pelvic inflammatory disease, and several other serious concerns. 

Some devices, according to an report on the new study, have been linked to problems like heavy bleeding, cramping, and inflammation. The study used by researchers at Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health was gleaned from surveys taken of more than 250 doctors, nurses, midwives, and doctor's assistants in Colorado and Iowa.

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