Study question: Can the need of subsequent abortion be reduced by providing intrauterine contraception as a part of the abortion service?
Summary answer: Provision of intrauterine devices (IUDs) in association with first trimester abortion more than halved the incidence of repeat abortion during the first year of follow-up.
What is known already: Following abortion, the incidence of subsequent abortion is high, up to 30-40%. In cohort studies, intrauterine contraception has reduced the need of repeat abortion by 60-70%.
Study design, size, duration: A randomized controlled trial. The main outcome measure was the incidence of subsequent induced abortions during the follow-up. Altogether 751 women seeking first trimester induced abortion were recruited and randomized into two groups. Randomization was accomplished by computer-assisted permuted-block randomization with random block sizes of four to six. The investigators did not participate in randomization, which was done before commencing the study. The participants were recruited between 18 October 2010 and 21 January 2013.
Participants, settings, methods: The inclusion criteria were age ≥18 years, duration of pregnancy ≤12 weeks, accepting intrauterine contraception, residence in Helsinki and signing the informed consent form. Women with contraindications to intrauterine contraception, such as uterine anomaly, acute genital infection or pap-smear change requiring surgical treatment were ineligible to participate.This study was conducted in collaboration between the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, and Centralized family planning of the City of Helsinki.The intervention group (n = 375) was provided with intrauterine contraception (either the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system or copper-releasing intrauterine device) immediately following surgical abortion (18.1%) or at a follow-up 2-4 weeks after medical abortion (81.9%). Women in the control group were prescribed oral contraceptives and advised to contact their primary healthcare unit for a follow-up visit and further contraceptive services according to national guidelines. The women were followed-up to 28 February 2014 by using the Finnish National Abortion Registry, Helsinki University Hospital electronic database and clinical follow-up visit at 1 year.
Main results and the role of chance: The median age of the whole study group was 27 years and 44% had a history of induced abortion(s). During the follow-up year the number of women requesting subsequent abortion was significantly lower in the intervention than in the control group (9/375 [2.4%] versus 20/373 [5.4%], difference -3.0 [95% CI -6.0 to -0.2] percentage points, P = 0.038, according to intention-to-treat analysis and 5/346 [1.4%] versus 20/357 [5.6%], difference -4.2(-7.2 to -1.4) percentage points, P = 0.003, according to per-protocol analysis, respectively). Provision of intrauterine contraception was safe with rate of infection and expulsion similar to those reported previously.
Limitations, reasons for caution: The power calculation was calculated for a 5-year follow-up. However, significant differences between the two groups were already seen after 1 year. The present study was performed in a single clinic, where, ∼15% of all abortions in Finland are performed.
Wider implications of the findings: In order to decrease the need of subsequent abortions, IUDs should be provided at the time of abortion.
Trial registration: The study was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov (NCT01223521).
Trial registration date: 18 October 2010.
Date of first patient's enrolment: 18 October 2010.
Keywords: abortion registry; counselling; induced abortion; intrauterine contraception; repeat abortion.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.