Dalkon Shield intra-uterine device contraceptive, 1971-1974.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
An IUD works after conception, denying a newly fertilized embryo the ability to implant and grow in the lining of the uterus. The Dalkon Shield was introduced on the American market in 1971 by A H Robins Co. It was a faulty IUD which became the subject of of a law case and created widespread speculation about the effectivenes and safety of IUDs. The litigation case arose from allegations that the Dalkon Shield caused pelvic inflammatory disease, frequently resulting in infertility. More than 3.6 million devices were sold in the United States before it was removed from the market in 1974. Over 400 000 claims were made against A H Robins Co and nearly $3 billion was eventually paid out in damages.