Research Article

Actinomyces-like organisms in cervical smears from women using intrauterine contraceptive devices.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 23 August 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:534
  1. H L Duguid,
  2. D Parratt,
  3. R Traynor


    Cervical smears from 293 users of intrauterine contraceptive devices attending family planning clinics in East Fife, Dundee, and Angus were stained by Papanicolaou and Gram's methods and examined for actinomyces-like organisms. Of the 128 women using plastic devices, 40 gave smears positive for these organisms. In contrast only two positive smears were obtained from the 165 women using devices containing copper and none from a control group of 300 women taking oral contraceptives. Colonisation was more common in women whose plastic devices had been in situ for over two years. Correlations between the presence of these organisms and recorded incidences of pain and both clinical and cytological evidence of inflammation of the lower genital tract were highly significant (p = 0.00001, p < 0.00001, and p < 0.00001 respectively). The results suggest that plastic intrauterine contraceptive devices predispose to colonisation by actinomyces-like organisms, particularly after long-term use. Hence if the apparently bacteriostatic action of copper devices is confirmed these should probably be more widely used.