Intrauterine Device (IUD)

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s inserted into your womb by a specially trained health professional. There are various types and sizes available. Depending on the type, an IUD can last from three to 10 years. It used to be called a coil.
The IUD is a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) method. This means that once it's in place, you don't have to think about contraception every day or each time you have sex.
The IUD works by preventing sperm from surviving in the cervix, womb or fallopian tubes. It may also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb.
IUDs are more than 99% effective.
An advantage of an IUD is that it is effective as soon as it's put in. It can be removed at any time by a specially trained health professional. You'll quickly return to normal levels of fertility.
Changes to your periods are common in the first three to six months after an IUD is put in, but they're likely to go down after this. It can make your periods heavier, longer or more painful, and you might get spotting or bleeding between periods. Heavy bleeding can be treated, so talk to your doctor or nurse about this.
There's a very small chance of infection within 20 days of the IUD being fitted.
Having the IUD put in can be uncomfortable. You may want to use pain-relieving drugs or a local anaesthetic. Ask the doctor or nurse about this.
An IUD may not be suitable for you if you've had previous pelvic infections.
Using condoms as well as the IUD, is the only way to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
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