The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small plastic and copper device fitted in the womb to provide contraceptive protection for up to ten years.
Inserting an IUD is a simple procedure that takes about 5 minutes and is done by a trained person. The IUD sits in your womb and does not move from there. The IUD starts working as soon as it is put in and stops working as soon as it is taken out, when your fertility returns again.
It can take up to seven days for the IUD to start working. It stops working when it is taken out, at which point your fertility returns.
How good is the IUD at preventing a pregnancy?
- The IUD works very well at preventing a pregnancy.
- If 100 women used the IUD for a year and carried on with their normal sex life then only 1 of those women would fall pregnant during that period.
What are other good things about the IUD?
- It can be placed in your womb at the time of an abortion, and works as soon as you put it in.
- The IUD is easy to use. Once in place, you do not need to think about it until it needs replacing. It can last up to ten years, depending on the IUD. You can get the IUD removed whenever you want.
- Your previous fertility will return immediately after it is removed.
- It does not interrupt sex.
What else should you know?
- An IUD requires a simple, small procedure to fit and remove it.
- You will need to be examined six weeks after the IUD is fitted to check it is in the right place.
- Unlike condoms, it does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.
Day to day life with your IUD
- Your regular bleeding pattern may change while using the IUD. Irregular bleeding may occur. This is nothing to worry about and any irregular bleeding generally settles.
Frequently asked questions
- Will it be hard to have a baby after the IUD is removed?
The IUD does not affect your long-term fertility. It only prevents you from having a baby while it is in your womb. As soon as it is removed your body returns to the fertile state that it was in before you had the IUD.
- Will the IUD move around my body or fall out once inserted into my womb?
No. Once inserted the IUD stays in your womb. It also will not fall out when you walk around. You can still continue with any work and heavy lifting that you need to do.
- Will the IUD cause irregular bleeding?
Sometimes the IUD can cause irregular bleeding, but generally this settles down to become your normal regular cycle. Some women experience heavier but regular periods with an IUD.
- Can my partner feel the IUD during sex?
It is very rare that a man can feel the IUD during sex. If your partner does feel it then you should be checked to ensure it is correctly fitted.
- Does the IUD cause infections or get rusty over time?
The IUD may cause a slight increase in discharge but it does not cause a rise in infections as long as it is put in properly, by a trained person. You should not have an IUD put in if you think you already have an infection. The IUD does not get rusty.
- What do I do if I change my mind and decide I want to get pregnant after I’ve had my IUD inserted?
You can get the IUD removed whenever you want. Your previous fertility will return immediately after the IUD is removed.
Find out about other long term contraceptive methods