Contraceptive Coils

Book your contraceptive coil insertion 

There are two main types of contraceptive coils, copper coils and hormonal coils.

Both are over 99% effective at protecting against pregnancy.

How do they work?

A small T-shaped device containing plastic and copper/hormone is put into the uterus (womb). It prevents sperm from reaching an egg and causes changes in the lining of the womb making it difficult for a fertilised egg to implant in the womb (prevents implantation).

Regarding the copper coil, it releases copper to stop you getting pregnant, and protects against pregnancy for between 5 and 10 years.

Advantages

  • Reliable

  • Lasts 5-10 years (IUD:copper coil), 5-6 years (IUS:hormonal coil)

  • No need to remember contraception

  • Fertility returns immediately once removed

 

 Additional advantages of IUS:

  • Periods lighter and shorter

  • Some protection against pelvic infections

Having an IUD fitted

Before your IUD is fitted, our gynaecolgoist will check inside your vagina to check the position and size of your womb. You may be tested for any existing infections, such as STIs, and be given antibiotics.

The appointment takes about 20 to 30 minutes, and fitting the IUD should take no longer than 5 minutes:

Having an IUD fitted can be uncomfortable, and some people might find it painful, but you can have a local anaesthetic to help. 

Let the person fitting your IUD know if you feel any pain or discomfort while you are having it fitted. You can ask to stop at any time.

You can also take painkillers after having an IUD fitted if you need to.

You may get period-type cramps afterwards, but painkillers can ease the cramps. You may also bleed for a few days after having an IUD fitted.

Once your IUD has been fitted, you may be advised to get it checked by a gynaecologist after 3 to 6 weeks to make sure everything is fine. 

See a GP if you or your partner are at risk of getting an STI, as this can lead to an infection in the pelvis.

You may have an infection if you:

  • have pain or tenderness in your lower abdomen

  • have a high temperature

  • have abnormal or smelly discharge

How to tell if it's still in place

An IUD has 2 thin threads that hang down a little way from your womb into the top of your vagina.

Our gynaecologist will teach you how to feel for these threads and check that it's still in place.

Check your IUD is in place a few times in the first month and then after each period, or at regular intervals.

It's very unlikely that your IUD will come out, but if you cannot feel the threads or think it's moved, you may not be protected against pregnancy.

See our gynaecologist straight away and use additional contraception, such as condoms, until your IUD has been checked.

If you have had sex recently, you may need to use emergency contraception.

Your partner should not be able to feel your IUD during sex. If they can, see a gynaecologist for a check-up.

Removing an IUD

Your IUD can be removed at any time.  If you're not having another IUD put in and do not want to get pregnant, use additional contraception, such as condoms, for 7 days before you have it removed.

It's possible to get pregnant as soon as the IUD has been taken out.

 

Who can use an IUD

 

Most people with a womb can use an IUD.

The IUD may not be suitable if you:

  • think you might be pregnant

  • have an untreated STI or a pelvic infection

  • have problems with your womb or cervix

  • have unexplained bleeding between periods or after sex

People who have had an ectopic pregnancy or who have an artificial heart valve must consult their GP or clinician before having an IUD fitted.

Using an IUD after giving birth

An IUD can usually be fitted 4 weeks after giving birth (vaginal or caesarean). You'll need to use alternative contraception from 3 weeks (21 days) after the birth until the IUD is put in.

In some cases, an IUD can be fitted within 48 hours of giving birth. It's safe to use an IUD when you're breastfeeding, and it will not affect your milk supply.

Using an IUD after a miscarriage or abortion

An IUD can be fitted after an abortion or miscarriage. You'll be protected against pregnancy immediately.

Advantages and disadvantages of the IUD

Although an IUD is an effective method of contraception, there are some things to consider before having one fitted.

 

Advantages:

  • It protects against pregnancy for 5 or 10 years, depending on the type.

  • Once an IUD is fitted, it works straight away.

  • Most people with a womb can use it.

  • There are no hormonal side effects, such as acne, headaches or breast tenderness.

  • It does not interrupt sex.

  • It's safe to use an IUD if you're breastfeeding.

  • It's possible to get pregnant as soon as the IUD is removed.

  • It's not affected by other medicines.

  • There's no evidence that an IUD will affect your weight or increase the risk of cervical cancerwomb (uterus) cancer or ovarian cancer.

Disadvantages:

  • Your periods may become heavier, longer or more painful, though this may improve after a few months.

  • It does not protect against STIs, so you may need to use condoms as well.

  • If you get an infection when you have an IUD fitted, it could lead to a pelvic infection if not treated.

  • Most people who stop using an IUD do so because of vaginal bleeding and pain, although these side effects are uncommon.

Risks of the IUD

Pelvic infections

There's a very small chance of getting a pelvic infection in the first 20 days after the IUD has been inserted.

You may be advised to have a check for any existing infections before an IUD is fitted.

See a GP if you've had an IUD fitted and you:

  • have pain or tenderness in your lower abdomen

  • have a high temperature

  • have abnormal or smelly discharge

Thrush

There's some limited evidence that if you have an IUD fitted, you may have a slightly higher chance of getting thrush that keeps coming back.

Speak to a GP if you have an IUD and keep getting thrush. You might want to think about trying a different type of contraception.

Rejection

There's a small chance that the IUD can be rejected (expelled) by the womb or it can move (displacement).

If this happens, it's usually soon after it's been fitted. You'll be taught how to check that your IUD is in place.

Damage to the womb

In rare cases, an IUD can make a hole in the womb when it's put in. This may be painful, although sometimes there may be no symptoms.

The risk is extremely low. But see a GP straight away if you're feeling pain or cannot feel the threads of your IUD, as you may need surgery to remove it.

Ectopic pregnancy

If the IUD fails and you become pregnant, there's also an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy

Book your contraceptive coil insertion