IUDs and colonization or infection with Actinomyces

Carolyn Westhoff


Pelvic actinomycosis is an extremely rare disease that can occur in women with a long duration of intrauterine device (IUD) use. This type of abscess is usually unsuspected and, thus, diagnosed and treated surgically; however, long-duration treatment with penicillin can be completely effective. While the occurrence of actinomycosis is well documented by case reports, it is not possible to quantify the risk during IUD use. Approximately 7% of women using an IUD may have a finding of Actinomyces-like organisms on a Pap test. The prognostic significance of this finding is minimal because of the lack of sensitivity and specificity and a low positive predictive value. In the absence of symptoms, women with Actinomyces-like organisms on a Pap test do not need antimicrobial treatment or IUD removal.


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Actinomycosis is a rare, chronic, and slowly progressive granulomatous disease caused by filamentous Gram positive anaerobic bacteria from the Actinomycetaceae family (genus Actinomyces). The disease is characterised by the formation of painful abscesses in the mouth, lungs,breast or gastrointestinal tract. Discover the latest research on actinomycosis here.