Coil is most effective emergency contraception, says NICE

Women requesting emergency contraception should be advised that a copper IUD is more effective than the emergency contraceptive pill, NICE has recommended.

The recommendation comes in a new quality standard on contraception, which sets out key areas where advice on contraception needs to improve. In 2014/15, 95% of emergency contraception issued by sexual and reproductive health services was the pill, NICE said.

The quality standard also recommends that women should be informed about long acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods, including the IUD, when asking for contraception.

Oral contraceptives remain the most common form of contraception, but uptake of LARCs has been increasing, NICE said. In 2014/15 LARCs accounted for the main method of contraception used by 37% of women making contact with sexual and reproductive health services.

Approximately one in five pregnancies in Britain are unplanned. An IUD is effective as emergency contraception for up to five days after unprotected sex or within five days of expected ovulation.

GP Dr Jane Wake, a member of the guideline development group said: ‘The advantage of the coil, on top of being more effective, is that it can be retained and used as long term contraception, some can even be left in place for 10 years.

‘Timing however is essential and women deciding on the coil should make contact with the clinic they have been advised to attend as soon as is possible.'

The NICE quality standard also recommends that women who request an abortion discuss contraception with a healthcare professional and are offered a choice of all methods of contraception when they are assessed for an abortion and before discharge.

In addition, women who give birth should be provided with information and offered a choice of all contraceptive methods by their midwife within seven days of delivery.

Dr Asha Kasliwal, president of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health said: ‘We hope that this quality standard will help healthcare professionals, service providers and commissioners alike to help reduce unintended pregnancies in their localities, while making tangible improvements in the provision of, and access to, contraception.’

Photo: iStock

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