IUDs appear to have a systemic effect on the body, including breast MRI study proves

Intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) are believed to have systemic effects on the body, similar to hormone replacement therapy, according to the results of a breast MRI study that will be presented next week at the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

It is claimed that IUDs have a purely local impact on the uterus. Our research findings show that this is not the case.

Luisa Huck M.D., radiology resident at the Department of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology of RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

Levonorgestrel-releasing IUDs (LNG-IUDs) are used by tens of millions of women worldwide. They work by releasing a small amount of hormone into the uterus. The hormone is released directly into the uterus. The bloodstream level is lower than other hormonal methods. In theory, this restricted area of release implies that any adverse effects would be restricted to the region around the IUD. However, emerging evidence suggests that LNG-IUDs can be associated with adverse effects that are similar to those of hormonal drugs for the system.

Christiane Kuhl, M.D. A renowned breast cancer researcher and head of the Department of Radiology at RWTH Aachen University discovered that women who wear a hormonal IUD in place generally show greater background parenchymal enhancement on MRI breasts that are contrast enhanced. Background parenchymal stimulation -;the initial enhancement of normal breast tissue – is a sensitive indicator of hormone levels.

The observation prompted Dr. Huck to investigate the connection between the use of LNG-IUDs and background parenchymal enhancement on breast MRI and to investigate possible impacts on the entire system of LNG-IUDs.

Dr. Huck and her colleagues utilized the hospital database to identify women who hadn’t undergone standard dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI breast screening at least once.

“By comparing the levels of enhancement in contrast in the same women who have and without the IUD in place, a change in systemic hormone levels due to the IUD can be identified,” Dr. Huck said.

Half of the women in this study had their first breast MRI before IUD placement. The other half did it with the IUD in place. Half of women participating in the study had their first MRI before IUD placement, and the second one following IUD removal. Researchers were able to stay clear of any age-related effects on background paraenchymal enhancement, which could have affected the interpretation of the results.

The study revealed that IUD use led to significant increase of enhancement in 23 of 48 patients, which suggests that there are hormonal effects triggered by IUD use that occur well beyond the uterus.

Dr. Huck stated that the results did not show that IUDs have a purely local effect upon the uterus, however, they can affect the entire body.

She added that is plausible that IUDs could cause adverse effects similar to those of other hormonal treatments.

“Use of an IUD causes hormonal stimulation of the breast which can be detected by MRI,” Dr. Huck explained. “The enhanced enhancement also has implications for the diagnostic accuracy of breast MRI for women who use hormonal IUDs.”

Dr. Huck stressed that although the results do indicate an effect of hormones on the system in women who have IUDs but it doesn’t necessarily mean that contraceptives should be avoided.

She added that IUDs are generally safe and well tolerated. “But when women who have an IUD in their bodies have unprobable side effects, they should consult their doctor and look into other forms of contraception.

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Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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