Postplacental or delayed insertion of the levonorgestrel intrauterine device after vaginal delivery: a randomized controlled trial

Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Nov;116(5):1079-87. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181f73fac.


Objective: To estimate whether 6-month use of the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) would be higher when insertion occurred within 10 minutes of placental delivery compared with 6-8 weeks postpartum.

Methods: We enrolled pregnant women planning vaginal deliveries and desiring a postpartum levonorgestrel-releasing IUD. Patients were randomly assigned when admitted in labor to postplacental or delayed IUD insertion. The women followed up in person at 6-8 weeks and 6 months and were contacted by telephone at 3 months. Women were ineligible for a study IUD postenrollment for intrapartum events including infection, hemorrhage, and cesarean delivery; these women were contacted by phone at 3 and 6 months. Expelled IUDs were replaced per patient preference.

Results: Successful IUD placement occurred in 50 of 51 participants (98.0%) and 46 of 51 participants (90.2%) in the postplacental and delayed groups, respectively (P=.2). Expulsion within 6 months occurred in 12 of 50 (24.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 13.1-38.2) and two of 46 (4.4%; 95% CI 0.5-14.8) participants, respectively (P=.008). Intrauterine device use at 6 months was 43 of 51 (84.3%; 95% CI 71.4-93.0) and 39 of 51 (76.5%; 95% CI 62.5-87.2), respectively (P=.32). For ineligible patients, only 11 of 41 (26.8%) women were using IUDs at 6 months and two (4.9%) had become pregnant.

Conclusion: Intrauterine device use 6 months after delivery is similar in women who have postpartum or scheduled delayed IUD placement through a study after replacement of expelled IUDs. Expulsions are significantly higher with postplacental compared with delayed IUD placement. Women asked to follow up with their own health care providers for delayed insertion are significantly less likely to receive an IUD.

Clinical trial registration:,, NCT00476021.

Level of evidence: I.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Device Expulsion
  • Intrauterine Devices, Medicated*
  • Levonorgestrel / administration & dosage*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Levonorgestrel

Associated data