This week we’re looking at the intrauterine system (IUS), which is a long-term, reversible contraceptive used by woman to prevent them getting pregnant.
The IUS is similar to the IUD but instead of containing copper (which is toxic to sperm), it is made of plastic and the hormone progestogen which is similar to the natural hormone progesterone which a woman produces naturally in her ovaries.
This stops the fertilised egg becoming embedded in the womb by causing the womb lining to become thinner and therefore less likely to accept a fertilised egg.
It can also thicken the cervical mucus making it harder for sperm to reach the egg, and in some cases can stop women’s ovaries releasing an egg altogether. All of these things will prevent you from becoming pregnant.
The IUS is 99 per cent effective in preventing pregnancy for up to five years, so is particularly good for women who know that they do not want to get pregnant within that time.
It’s also good for women who can’t remember to take their Pill on time or who often forget to use Contraception as once it’s fitted you don’t have to think about it for another five years.
If you suffer from heavy, painful periods then the IUS may work for you as it often makes periods lighter and in some cases completely stops them after the first year.
A trained GP or nurse can fit your IUS but before they do this they will have to perform an internal examination to check the position of your womb and look for any infection.
The process of inserting the IUS lasts between 15-20 minutes and can be painful. The vagina is held open, much like in a cervical smear test and the IUS inserted into the womb.
If you find the procedure painful and uncomfortable you will be offered painkillers. After the procedure you may also experience cramps but these will pass.
Should you decide you would like your IUS removed, you can do this anytime by visiting your doctor or nurse.
If you aren’t going to have another IUS fitted then you should use another form of Contraception for seven days before you have it removed as sperm can live in the body for seven days and you could find yourself becoming pregnant once you’ve had the IUS removed.
The possible side effects of the IUS include acne, breast tenderness and headaches as a result of having one fitted. You will also have to protect yourself against STIs by using a condom.
There are risks when using the IUS, one being pelvic infections which can present within the first 20 days of having the IUS fitted, however the risk is very low.
In rare cases the IUS can move out of place and will need to be put right in order to prevent pregnancy.
Don’t forget to consult your GP about all the contraception choices available to you before deciding upon one.
For more information about the IUS and other methods of contraception visit your GP or nhs.uk.
Cara Mason @FemaleFirst_UK