Initiating an intrauterine device (IUD) with copper over a 180-day period significantly increased the prevalence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) in a group of women seeking contraception in Zimbabwe, while hormonal contraceptive methods did not affect BV prevalence. In the 234 women using the copper IUD, BV prevalence was assessed at baseline and at 30, 90 and 180 days, and was 27% (slightly higher than the BV prevalence in American women), 35%, 40%, and 49% respectively. While beneficial lactobacilli frequency and density levels did not change in the copper IUD participants’ vaginal microbiome, an increase in Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae was observed. Overall, copper IUDs increased the relative risk of BV by twofold. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology
→Takeaway: This study highlights the negative effects of copper IUDs on the vaginal microbiome, yet previous studies have illustrated the negative impacts of hormonal contraception on the gut microbiome. For individuals seeking a healthy method of birth control, the landscape can be confusing. It’s important to know that no medical contraception is without risk and educating yourself on what those risks are before choosing a form of birth control is key.