This week we’re looking at the intrauterine device (IUD), which is a long-term, reversible contraceptive used by woman to prevent them getting pregnant.
An IUD is a small t-shaped device made from plastic and copper that sits inside the womb and prevents pregnancy. It used to be called a coil or loop.
The IUD works by releasing copper to change the make-up of the fluids in the womb and fallopian tubes meaning that the egg cannot be fertilised by the sperm. It can also stop the egg travelling along the fallopian tubes and making it to the womb.
An IUD must be fitted by a trained doctor or nurse at your GP, sexual health clinic or family planning clinic. It takes between 15-20 minutes to fit and once it has been fit it can last between five and 10 years.
The length of time it lasts depends upon which one you have fitted as there are different types. Some women find having an IUD fitted painful as the vagina is held open, like in a cervical smear test, whilst the IUD is inserted through the cervix into the womb so you may be offered painkillers.
The IUD is usually fitted during your menstrual cycle and you are protected against pregnancy from when it is inserted until it is removed.
The IUD is 98-99 per cent effective at preventing pregnancy. Newer versions with more cooper are more effective (99 per cent).
If you’re having your IUD removed and not planning to have it replaced then use condoms for seven days before having your IUD removed. Sperm can live in the body for seven days so it’s important you use another form of Contraception in that time to avoid pregnancy. Your fertility should return to normal once the IUD is removed.
The benefits of the IUD are that you don’t have to think about taking or using other Contraception to prevent pregnancy for a long period of time. Although, you will still have to use condoms to prevent STIs and the IUD doesn’t protect you against STIs.
The disadvantages are that you can experience longer, more painful periods and in rare cases there can be complications after having your IUD fitted.
Complications include pelvic infections within the first 20 days of the IUD being fitted and the IUD moving out of place. Your doctor can show you how to check if your IUD has moved out of place. For more risks when using an IUD click here.
Always consult your GP when it comes to deciding upon an contraception as they will be able to advise which is the most suitable for you.
Remember to always use a condom to help prevent the spread of STIs.
For more information about the IUD or any other form of contraception, visit your local GP or nhs.uk.
Cara Mason @FemaleFirst_UK