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Fishtail IUD

Item details

Object number M-117
Manufacturer Unknown
Place England
Date 1950s
Category Curiosities and miscellaneous
Material Plastic, Nylon


The origin of intra uterine devices (IUDs) is not clear but it is thought that some form of device was used as early as the ancient Greeks to prevent pregnancy. Cervico-uterine stems of various designs were developed in the mid-19th century and by 1909 the first specifically designed IUD (a ring of silkworm gut) was devised by Dr R Richter.

Other variants were designed and used in the first half of the 20th century but only came into widespread use in the late 1950s when thermoplastics, which can bend for insertion and retain their original shape, became available for making IUDs, along with monofilament nylon string, which facilitates IUD removal.
This design devised by Dr Lippes, who conducted much research to improve the safety and effectiveness of IUDs, increased the acceptance and popularity of the IUD with prescribing physicians and women looking for a long-term form of contraception.