Medicine: I.U.D. Debate

How great are the risks?

Before crossing the deserts, Arabs centuries ago performed a curious rite. Using narrow tubes, they inserted pebbles into the wombs of their camels to keep the animals from becoming pregnant during the long journeys. That crude but successful measure may have been the first intrauterine device (I.U.D.), a contraceptive now employed by some 50 million women round the world, including about 2 million in the U.S. Yet, as effective as the I.U.D. is, preventing pregnancy for years at a time with no special effort by the woman, it has lately become a center of controversy. Some patients...

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