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What is it about intrauterine devices that women find unacceptable? Factors that make women non-users: a qualitative study
  1. Claire Asker, MRCGP, FFFP, General Practitioner1,
  2. Helen Stokes-Lampard, MSc, MRCGP, Clinical Research Fellow and GP Principal2,
  3. Sue Wilson, PhD, HonMFPH, Reader in Clinical Epidemiology2 and
  4. Jackie Beavan, BSc, MA, Senior Research Fellow3
  1. All Saints Medical Centre, Kings Heath, Birmingham, UK
  2. Department of Primary Care and General Practice, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  3. Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, Department of Primary Care and General Practice, Primary Care Clinical Sciences Building, The University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 121 414 2953. Fax: +44 (0) 121 414 6571. E-mail: h.j.stokeslampard{at}


Introduction There is a lack of published research into the perceptions of ‘non-users’ of copper intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs). Despite this being one of the most commonly used methods of contraception in other countries, only 5% of contraceptive users in Great Britain aged 16–49 years currently use an IUD. This study explores how women's lay beliefs and perceptions about IUDs lead to rejection of this contraceptive choice.

Methods One-to-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 women of varying ages and parity recruited from an urban general practice. None of the women had ever used IUDs but all had used contraception in the previous 6 months. Data were subjected to qualitative analysis.

Results Five analytical themes were identified: lack of objective information about IUDs, reported side effects of IUDs, anxieties about the process of fitting an IUD, IUDs as an infection risk and lack of personal control of an IUD, once fitted.

Conclusions Some of the themes identified mirrored those found in studies of user attitudes to and experiences of IUDs. Others, particularly the prominent worries about mess and embarrassment during fitting and the association between the hidden nature of the fitted device and unreliability, are new and need wider exploration.

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