Researchers were unable to confirm whether the IUD type or duration of use impacted the incidence of cervical cancer. "It was not subtle at all", said Victoria Cortessis, associate professor at University of Southern California in the US.
When doctors insert IUDs, irritation of the cervical tissue might trigger an immune response that helps fight HPV infections, Cortessis said.
IUDs are small, T-shaped devices placed in the uterus to prevent sperm from reaching an egg.
The cancer that forms in the cervix region of the female reproductive system is known as cervical cancer.
Researchers examined data from 16 previously published studies with a total 4,945 women who had cervical cancer and 7,537 women who didn't.
Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide but only the 13th most common in women in the UK. Given that IUDs are one of the most popular and effective birth control methods women use - and the number one choice of OB/GYNs for birth control, according to a 2013 survey from Planned Parenthood - fact that they could help reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer is very good news for women who use IUDs, or will in the future.
Even so, the results suggest it's worth continuing to research the potential for IUDs to help prevent cervical cancer, said Dr. Michelle Moniz, an obstetrics and gynecology researcher at the University of MI in Ann Arbor who wasn't involved in the study.
"The results of our study are very exciting". When the studies report consistent findings - in this case, a link between having an IUD and the risk of cervical cancer - a common association can be identified.
As randomised controlled trials would be unethical when looking at the risk of cervical cancer, this review was mostly based on case-control studies.
But Lichtenfeld was concerned that some of the larger studies included in the analysis dated back to the 1980s and 1990s, when IUDs were being prescribed in the United States to a more select group of women.
You may be wondering how women get cervical cancer in the first place.
Women who had used an IUD were 36% less likely to develop cervical cancer (odds ratio 0.64, 95% confidence interval 0.53 to 0.77). The devices can be used for several years, and can prevent pregnancy by impeding the fertilization.
This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that any previous use of an IUD reduces the risk of cervical cancer.
Firstly, none of the women had received an HPV vaccine.
Dr Cortessis also noted a contraceptive that offers protection against the disease can have a "profound" effect especially for women in developing countries. And more research is needed before gynecologists can begin recommending IUDs for protection against cervical cancer, Cortessis and other medical experts agreed.