An Intrauterine Device (IUD) also known as “the coil”, and not to be mistaken for an IUS, is a T shaped device made from plastic and copper that sits inside the womb. It can protect against pregnancy and lasts for between 5 to 10 years.
It can also be used as emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
Like all contraceptive methods other than condoms, the IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
The intrauterine device (IUD) works in two ways, it releases copper which prevents sperm from reaching the egg and it also stops a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus.
The IUD is over 99% effective when inserted correctly, meaning less than 1 in every 100 women who use an IUD become pregnant over a 1 year period.
You should visit your doctors surgery or sexual health clinic and ask about having an IUD fitted. You can find your nearest sexual health clinic here.
- Works for 5 to 10 years
- You don’t need to remember to use contraception for at least 5 years
- Can be inserted at any time during the menstrual cycle as long as you are not pregnant
- Can be taken out at any time (by a doctor or nurse)
- Does not interrupt sex
- Can be used if breastfeeding
- Not affected by other medicines
- You can get pregnant straight away after it is removed
- Small risk of getting an infection after it has been fitted
- Periods can be heavier and longer for the first 3 to 6 months after it has been fitted
- Small risk that your body may push out the IUD or it could move, ask your doctor or nurse how to check that it remains in place
- Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)