An intrauterine device with potential to control fertility in feral equids.
Fertility control of feral equids is difficult. A 4-month pilot study was conducted with a hormone-free intrauterine device (iUPOD). There was evaluation of i. device retention; ii. contraceptive efficacy; iii. fertility following device removal; iv. effects of device on estrous cycle periodicity and; v. abundance of biofilm on devices after removal from the uterus. The iUPODs were inserted trans-cervically in eight mares at random stages of the estrous cycle. Mares were confined in a paddock with a stallion the following day and remained with the stallion for 120 days. Transabdominal detection of the iUPOD, using a non-invasive handheld magnetic detector wand, was performed weekly. Mares were examined using transrectal ultrasonography on days 0 (Time at insertion = day 0), 14, and 30, and subsequently every third week to assess number and size of follicles, corpora lutea, and whether there was intrauterine fluid (IUF) present. The mares and stallion were observed daily for mating behavior. Weekly samples were assayed for progesterone (P4) at day 0 and until 3 weeks subsequent to stallion removal. None of the mares became pregnant while fitted with the iUPOD. Two of four mares conceived within 30 days subsequent to iUPOD removal. Three of eight mares fitted with the device had periods greater than 14 days with P4 concentrations <1 ng/mL, and seven of eight mares had periods greater than 14 days with P4 concentrations>1 ng/mL. There was a marked abundance of biofilm on devices of two mares at the time of device removal.