A Surprising Health Benefit of IUDs
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) may cut cervical cancer risk, suggests a review published in Obstetrics & Gynecology. IUDs are small, t-shaped devices that are inserted into the uterus to provide long-term birth control. They may promote an immune system response that destroys HPV (human papillomavirus), which is responsible for causing most cases of cervical cancer.
This discovery is especially important for young women who haven’t been vaccinated against HPV. Vaccination is only effective if it’s given prior to HPV exposure, which often occurs soon after a woman becomes sexually active. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccine series for young adolescents between the ages of 11 and 12.
More research is needed before doctors can recommend IUDs for women in their thirties and forties who have not had the HPV vaccine. But this latest review of 16 high-quality studies involving nearly 5,000 women who developed cervical cancer and more than 7,500 women who did not suggests IUDs may be beneficial in the fight against cervical cancer.