Assessment of copper corrosion from frameless copper IUDs after long-term in utero residence



      To assess the site-specific corrosive behavior of the frameless intrauterine device (IUD) following long-term exposure to the uterine environment.

      Study design

      A qualitative and morphological study using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).


      Three GyneFix® IUDs that were in site up to 150 months were examined. In utero corroded copper sleeves were divided into 10 different groups based on their shape (U or O), orientation (inside or outside) and in utero residence time. XRD indicated the presence of solely cuprite (Cu2O) as corrosion product on both the inside and the outside of the copper sleeves, regardless of their shape. These results were confirmed by backscattered electron micrographs recorded on the inside, the outside and the cross-section of the IUD sleeve. SEM results suggest that shape and orientation slightly affect the corrosion rate.


      The apparent copper loss from both sides of GyneFix copper tubes proves that both sides are a potential copper source and therefore justifies the design of GyneFix IUD. This could be beneficial for women as the IUD could be reduced in size and therefore better tolerated. The impact on bleeding could also be minimized.

      Implication statement

      Release of copper ions from both sides of the copper tubes of the frameless GyneFix® IUD allows the IUD to be reduced in size, contributing to better toleration. The impact on menstrual bleeding is also minimized by a smaller size of the foreign body.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Contraception
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Dean G.
        • Schwarz E.B.
        Intrauterine contraceptives (IUCs).
        in: Hatcher R. Trussel J. Nelson A. Contracept. Technol. Ardent Media, New York2011: 147-191
        • Wildemeersch D.
        • Pett A.
        • Hasskamp T.
        • Rowe P.
        • Vrijens M.
        Precision intrauterine contraception may significantly increase continuation of use: a review of long-term clinical experience with frameless copper-releasing intrauterine contraception devices.
        Int J Womens Health. 2013; 5: 215-225
        • d’Arcangues C.
        Worldwide use of intrauterine devices for contraception.
        Contraception. 2007; 75: S2-S7
        • Wildemeersch D.
        New frameless and framed intrauterine devices and systems — an overview.
        Contraception. 2007; 75: S82-S92
        • Ortiz M.E.
        • Croxatto H.B.
        Copper-T intrauterine device and levonorgestrel intrauterine system: biological bases of their mechanism of action.
        Contraception. 2007; 75: S16-S30
        • Tatum H.
        Metallic copper as an intrauterine contraceptive agent.
        Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1973; 117: 602-618
        • Wildemeersch D.
        Effective copper surface area of IUDs.
        J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care. 2006; 32: 54
        • Timonen H.
        Copper release from Copper-T intrauterine devices.
        Contraception. 1976; 14: 25-38
        • Brown S.D.
        • Bouchenoire L.
        • Bowyer D.
        • Kervin J.
        • Laundy D.
        • Longfield M.J.
        • et al.
        The XMaS beamline at ESRF: instrumental developments and high-resolution diffraction studies.
        J Synchrotron Radiat. 2001; 8: 1172-1181
        • Oster G.K.
        Chemical reactions of copper intrauterine device.
        Fertil Steril. 1972; 23: 18-23
        • Oster G.
        • Salgo M.P.
        The copper intrauterine device and its mode of action.
        N Engl J Med. 1975; 293: 432-438
        • Mora N.
        • Cano E.
        • Mora E.M.
        • Bastidas J.M.
        Influence of pH and oxygen on copper corrosion in simulated uterine fluid.
        Biomaterials. 2002; 23: 667-671
        • Bastidas D.M.
        • Cano E.
        • Mora E.M.
        Influence of oxygen, albumin and pH on copper dissolution in a simulated uterine fluid.
        Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2005; 10: 123-130
        • Bastidas J.M.
        • Cano E.
        • Mora N.
        Copper corrosion-simulated uterine solutions.
        Contraception. 2000; 61: 395-399
        • Gonen R.
        • Gal-or L.
        • Zilberman A.
        • Mordechai S.
        A copper-based intrauterine device with gold or platinum core: in vitro and in vivo studies.
        Contraception. 1981; 24: 657-671
        • Bastidas J.M.
        • Mora N.
        • Cano E.
        • Polo J.L.
        Characterization of copper corrosion products originated in simulated uterine fluids and on packaged intrauterine devices.
        J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2001; 12: 391-397
        • Berthou J.
        • Chrétien F.C.
        • Driguez P.A.
        Dégradation in utero des DIU au cuivre en fonction du temps. Le phénomène de corrosion métallique. Étude au microscope électronique à balayage.
        Gynecol Obstet Fertil. 2003; 31: 29-42
        • Kosonen A.
        Corrosion of copper in utero.
        in: Hafez E. Van Os W. Medicat. Intrauter. Devices. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands1980: 22-29
        • Wagner H.
        Intrauterine contraception: past present and future.
        in: Rabe T. Runnebaum B. Fertil. Control Updat. Trends. Springer, Berlin, Germany1999: 151-171
        • Chantler E.N.
        Copper loss from copper IUDs.
        in: Zatuchni G.I. Goldsmith A. Sciarra J.J. Intrauterine contraception: advances and future prospects. Harper & Row, Philadelphia1984: 198-210
        • Kosonen A.
        Factors influencing the dissolution of copper in utero.
        Contracept Deliv Syst. 1981; 2: 77-85
        • Wildemeersch D.
        • Rowe P.
        Assessment of menstrual blood loss in Belgian users of the frameless copper-releasing IUD with copper surface area of 200 mm2 and users of a copper-levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system.
        Contraception. 2004; 70: 169-172