Intra Uterine Device (IUD)

What is it?

An Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) also known as the 'coil' is a small, T-shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted into your uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.

An IUD releases copper into the uterus which prevents sperm from surviving in the cervix, uterus or fallopian tubes. It may prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus.

A trained doctor or nurse will fit the IUD. There is a brief internal examination, followed by the fitting which takes 15-20 minutes. Once an IUD is fitted, it will need to be checked by a doctor after 3 to 6 weeks.

How effective is it?

An IUD is over 99% effective. This means that less than 1 out of 100 women who use one of the new IUDs will become pregnant in a year.

What are the advantages?

  • An IUD is useful for women who know they don't want to get pregnant for a while. Once the IUD is in place, you don't have to think about contraception for five to ten years depending on the type
  • An IUD is useful for women who find it difficult to take a pill at the same time every day or those who don't want any hormonal contraception
  • An IUD can be taken out at any time by a specially trained health professional, and your fertility (ability to have children) quickly returns to normal
  • It is not affected by other medicines
  • It is safe to breastfeed after an IUD is fitted

What else do I need to know?

  • It does not protect you against STIs so always use a condom
  • May not be suitable for some women - a full medical history should be taken
  • Changes to your periods are common in the first 3 to 6 months after an IUD is put in, but they're likely improve and get better over time. It can make your periods heavier, longer or more painful, and you might get spotting or bleeding between periods
  • If you get pregnant, there's an increased risk of having an ectopic pregnancy (when the egg implants outside the uterus, for example, in the fallopian tube). But because pregnancy is very unlikely, the overall risk of ectopic pregnancy is lower than in women who don't use contraception

Where can I get an IUD?

Find your nearest services using our services page.


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