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What is an IUD/IUS?

A ‘coil’ is a small T-shaped device that’s put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or nurse. There are various types of this device – for example it can be plastic and copper, hormone or non-hormone. It is sometimes called ‘the coil’. Note, the coil cannot protect you against sexually transmitted diseases.

Why would you get an IUD/IUS?

You may have heard of the coil referred to as the IUS (intrauterine system) or the IUD. These are similar systems, the main difference being that the IUS releases the hormone progestogen in the womb, whereas the IUD releases copper into the womb.

IUD/IUS coils are an effective form of contraception – when inserted correctly, an IUD/IUS is more than 99% effective and can last over many years.  As long as you are not pregnant, the coil can be inserted at any time during your menstrual cycle. It can also be taken out at any time, as long as this is done so by a doctor or specially qualified nurse. Women over the age of 40 for the IUD and 45 for the IUS, who are getting the coil fitted may be advised by their doctor to leave their coil in until they reach the menopause or no longer need contraception.

How does an IUD/IUS coil work?

The copper coil (IUD) works by altering the cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg and survive. The copper coil can also work by stopping a fertilised egg from being able to implant itself in the womb.

The IUS works in a similar way by thickening the cervical mucus, again making the job of the sperm harder. The increase in hormone which increases the mucus means it is more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix. In addition, the lining of the womb is thinned and so the egg is less likely to be able to implant itself. In some cases, ovulation (the releasing of an egg every month) can be stopped completely.

Having an IUD/IUS fitted

For both the IUD and IUS, you may be tested for any existing infections, such as STIs. Once your doctor has confirmation you don’t have any infections, they will book you in for a procedure.

An IUD can be fitted at any time during your menstrual cycle, as long as you’re not pregnant. If you have an IUD fitted, you’ll be protected from getting pregnant straight away. Although an IUS can also be fitted any time in your menstrual cycle, as long as you’re not pregnant,you will only be protected against pregnancy straight away if it is fitted in the first 7 days of your cycle. In order to be totally protected, if you have your IUS fitted at any other point in your cycle you will need to use additional contraception, such as condoms, for 7 days afterwards.

During the fitting of an IUD or IUS  your doctor will check inside your vagina to check the position and size of your womb before inserting the devise. Much like during a cervical smear screening, during the insertion of the coil, the vagina will be held open and the IUD/ IUS will be inserted through the cervix and into the womb.

Your appointment will be under half an hour, and the fitting of the IUD/IUS device will be 5 minutes.

The procedure may be uncomfortable and possibly painful, but ensure that you tell your doctor as they will stop at any time. You  will be offered some local anesthetic to help with the pain. Your doctor at OneWelbeck will discuss options with you.

It is totally normal to experience period-pain type cramps after your procedure, which can be eased using pain killers.

Once an IUD has been fitted, it’ll need to be checked by a GP after 3 to 6 weeks to make sure everything is fine.

Following the procedure

Once an IUS/IUD  is fitted, it’ll need to be checked by your doctor at OneWebeck  after 3 to 6 weeks to make sure everything is fine. At this check up, you should tell your doctor any problems you have experienced, or whether you want to have your IUD/IUS removed.

What are the risks/side-effects of an IUD/Coil?

As with any procedure, there’s a small risk of getting an infection after it’s been fitted. Make sure you see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • pain in your lower abdomen
  • a high temperature
  • smelly discharge

There is also a small risk that your body may push out the IUD or it may become displaced post-procedure. Your doctor at OneWelbeck will teach you how to ensure this is still in place, during your appointment. Make sure you see your doctor if you or your partner are at risk of getting an STI, as this can lead to infection in the pelvis.

Side effects of the IUD

  • Can sometimes make your periods heavier

Side effects of the IUS

  • It can make your periods lighter, shorter or stop altogether, so it may help women who have heavy or painful periods.
  • Some women may experience side effects, such as mood swings, skin problems or breast tenderness.