Stanford/PSI study identifies ways to increase IUD use in developing countries

February 18, 2013 • Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Radio Serial Dramas, Africa, Asia/Pacific, News

Stanford/PSI study identifies ways to increase IUD use in developing countries

Boosting demand for intrauterine devices, commonly referred to as IUDs, and improving access to them can significantly increase their use in developing countries, where they have traditionally been an unpopular method of birth control, a new study says.

Researchers at the nonprofit Population Services International and the Stanford University School of Medicine show how they were able to provide these long-acting, reversible contraceptives to more than a half-million women in 13 countries.

The group’s “experience with promoting a contraceptive previously believed to be unsuitable for these contexts should encourage both public and private providers,” the researchers wrote in their paper, which appears in this month’s issue of Contraception.

Paul Blumenthal, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Stanford Program for International Reproductive Education and Services, is the study’s lead author. The other authors are with PSI, a Washington, DC-based organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as IUDs, are known to be a safe, effective and inexpensive form of birth control. The IUD does not have widespread popularity, though: A 2005 United Nations report showed that IUDs were used by 7.6 percent of women of reproductive age in developing countries, compared to 14.5 percent of women in developed ones.

Experts believe there are a variety of factors that prevent more women in developing countries from using IUDs. Among others are “myths and rumors about the IUD, uncertainty or inadequate information about where a woman could get one, and an inadequate number of providers trained and ready to provide a quality service,” Blumenthal said.

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