DES as an emergency contraception

Copper IUD, inserted after coitus averts pregnancy and provides continuing contraceptive protection

1975 Study Abstract

No pregnancies have been reported for 97 women treated postcoitally with the copper-T IUD. This method avoids the use of massive doses of estrogen with its associated side effects and provides continuing contraception.

The T-Cu has been found to be easy to insert in nulliparous women, with most patients being high school and college students.

Rape victims were 7% of the total. About half were treated within 24 hours of unprotected coitus. In 2 cases delay was 65 days. The majority of those seeking help did so during the fertile phase of the cycle. Sperm were found in the cervical mucus or vaginal secretions of 18 of the women. It has been estimated that a single unprotected intercourse at random throughout the cycle has a 2-4% risk of pregnancy. It was pointed out by a critic of the method that if a gonorrheal infection or pelvic inflammatory disease were present, serious complications might result. Also, serious infection might result if the patient was already pregnant from prior exposure.

Others reported results of their experiences with diethylstilbestrol (DES) as an emergency method. There were 3 failures in a reported group of 124 patients. Of these 2 had had more than 1 unprotected exposure and 1 had not taken the full 5-day course of therapy. In the total group of 124 patients, 50% had nausea and vomiting. Anxiety and depression were frequently present at a 2-week follow-up among DES patients. Only 15% refused offers of further contraception; 60% chose the pill or IUD. Of the 124 women in the DES group, 22 had had previous abortions and 4 subsequently returned for another course of DES therapy.


  • Copper IUD, inserted after coitus averts pregnancy and provides continuing contraceptive protection, International family planning digest, NCBI PubMed, PMID: 12307393, 1975 Sept.
  • Image credit pharmhealth.

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