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Copper IUD (Coil)

A copper IUD (intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted into the womb. It works by stopping the egg and sperm from surviving in the womb or the fallopian tubes. IUDs with more copper are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What is it?

A copper IUD (intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted into the womb by a specially trained doctor or nurse. It works by stopping the egg and sperm from surviving in the womb or the fallopian tubes. It can also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting into the womb. Some IUDs contain more copper than others. IUDs with more copper are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy. IUDs with less copper are less effective. There are various different types and sizes of IUD.


Who can use it?

The IUD can be used in most cases. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your sexual history to check if the IUD is the most suitable type of contraception for you. You should not use an IUD if you:

  • Have an untreated STI or pelvic infection.
  • Have problems with your womb or cervix (the entrance to the womb).
  • Have had any unexpected bleeding from the vagina for example, between periods and after sex.
  • You are already pregnant.
  • You or your partner are at risk of catching STIs.

Consult your GP before having the IUD fitted if you have had an ectopic pregnancy (where the fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, meaning that it will not develop into a baby) or recent abortion, or if you have an artificial heart valve.

What are the advantages?
  • Most can use the IUD, including those who have never been pregnant.
  • Once an IUD is fitted, it works straight away and works for 5 to 10 years or until it is removed.
  • It doesn’t interrupt sex.
  • It can be used if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Your normal fertility returns as soon as the IUD is taken out.
  • It is not affected by other medicines.
What are the disadvantages?
  • Your periods may become heavier, longer and more painful. This may improve after a few months.
  • An IUD doesn’t protect against STIs, so you may have to use condoms as well. If you get an STI while you have an IUD, it could lead to pelvic infection if not treated.Fewer than 1 in 100 who are at low risk of STIs will get a pelvic infection. They usually occur in the first 20 days after an IUD is fitted.
  • The most common reasons for stopping the use of the IUD are vaginal bleeding and pain.
  • In less than 1 in 1000 cases the IUD can make a hole in the womb or the neck of the womb and will need to be removed with an operation.
  • The IUD can be expelled from the womb (rejection) or can move. This is uncommon but is more likely to happen soon after it has been fitted.
  • There is a small increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy if the IUD fails and you become pregnant.
  • The procedure can be uncomfortable.
Where can you get it?

You can get the IUD for free through the NHS from our clinics or most GP surgeries.

You can use the service finder to find a service near you.

What should I do before getting the IUD fitted?
  • Continue with your current contraception.
  • Know the start date of your last period.
  • Read the information leaflet you have been given about your chosen contraception.
  • Do not bring any children unless they can be supervised during the procedure.
  • Make sure you have eaten before you attend.
  • Take painkillers at least half an hour before the fitting.
  • If you are breast feeding, do not feed for 2 hours before the coil is fitted.
  • Make sure you have no major commitments after the procedure as you may need to rest for the remainder of the day.
  • Sometimes you may not feel 100% after the procedure, so make sure you can arrange for a friend or partner to accompany you home if you happen not to feel well.
Important*

Please note that if you choose to come to the Leeds Sexual Health Service to have either a copper IUD (coil)  or a hormonal IUS fitted you will need to come to clinic first for counselling and completion of the consent form.  You will then be given an appointment to have the coil  or IUS fitted with one of our doctors.  This will be need to be at the right time in your monthly cycle.

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