There is a lack of published research into the perceptions of ‘non-users’ of copper IUDs. Despite this being one of the most commonly used contraception methods in other countries, only 5% of contraceptive users in Great Britain currently use an IUD. This study explores how women’s lay beliefs and perceptions about IUDs lead to rejection of this contraceptive choice.

One-to-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with ten women of varying ages and parity recruited from general urban practice. None of the women had ever used IUDs, but all had used contraception in the previous six months. Data were subjected to qualitative analysis.

Five analytical themes were identified: lack of objective information about IUDs, reported side effects of IUDs, anxieties about the process of fitting an IUD, IUDs as infection risk, and lack of personal control of an IUD, once provided.

Some of the themes identified mirrored those found in studies of user attitudes to and experiences of IUDs. Others, particularly the significant worries about mess and embarrassment during the fitting and the association between the fitted device’s hidden nature and unreliability, are new and need more comprehensive exploration.