Intrauterine device (IUD) is sometimes called a ‘copper coil’ or ‘simply coil’. It is not a coil as the name implies but a small T-shaped plastic device. A health professional should insert the coil into the uterus. This device secretes copper which stops pregnancy. Its efficacy lasts from 5 to 10 years depending on the type used.

Facts about the Device

  • Has an efficiency of more than 99% if properly inserted
  • It is safe for lactating mothers
  • The menstrual cycle does not affect coil insertions
  • Removal is possible at anytime
  • It is effective in the long term

Who can use the device?

Any healthy woman can use an IUD. The exception to its use are women who

  • Are pregnant
  • Have cervical cancer or cancer of the womb.
  • Have STDs or recently treated a pelvic infection.
  • Experience unexplained vaginal bleeding after their period or sex.
  • Allergic to copper
  • Have Wilson’s disease
  • Have liver disease
  • Have breast cancer

IUD can be inserted 4 weeks after childbirth.

How an IUD works

The device when inserted into the uterus releases copper. The copper can work in two ways

  1. Make it difficult for the sperm to get to the egg through thickening of the cervical mucus
  2. Prevent the implantation of a fertilised egg to the endometrium 

Before Insertion of the IUD

You are required to consult a doctor before your IUD is inserted. Inside your vagina will be checked to know the size and position of your womb. You will also be tested for any STIs. You would also discuss the type of anaesthetic or over the counter painkiller to take before or after the insertion.

How is an IUD inserted?

Fitting an IUD does not take longer than 5 minutes. The vagina is held open with a speculum the same way it is during a cervical screening; the IUD is inserted into a small tube that is placed into the vagina. The tube is moved into the uterus through the cervix. The IUD is pushed out of the tube, and the tube pulled out. The strings on the IUD hangs between 1-2 inches into the vagina.

What to expect after an IUD insertion  

You may experience slight bleeding, cramps, and lightheadedness after the procedure. This discomfort tends to disappear after a few days. The effect of the IUD begins as soon as it is inserted. There could be an infection after the insertion of an IUD. If you experience one of the following

  • Increased body temperature
  • Pain in your lower abdomen
  • Smelly discharge

You need to see your doctor 3-6 weeks after the procedure to make sure everything is as it should be.

If your partner feels the string of the IUD during sex or you feel it has moved, you need to see your doctor for a check-up.

Advantages of IUD

  • It has a long span of 5-10 years.
  • No hormonal side effect like mood swing, nausea, headache or breast tenderness.
  • Safe for breastfeeding mothers
  • Pregnancy can occur as soon as the IUD is removed.
  • It works immediately after the procedure.
  • It doesn’t interfere during sex
  • Its effect is not inhibited by the use of other medications.
  • Women of any age can use it.

Disadvantages of IUD

  • You must use a condom in case of prevention of STIs.
  • You may experience prolonged vaginal bleeding and pain.’
  • It can cause a hang in the period. You may experience a heavier, longer or more painful period.
  • IUD insertion can cause pelvic infection.

Can IUD Fallout?

IUD falls out only in rare cases, 

  • Presence of fibroid in the uterus
  • Women below 20 years
  • You have never had children
  • You had the procedure done after having a baby or a second-trimester abortion.
  • Unusual size or shape of the uterus

Risks of using an IUD

There are a few risks to be considered before you get an IUD inserted

  • If the IUD falls out and pregnancy occurs, there is a high risk of ectopic pregnancy.
  • Increased risk of pelvic infection
  • Damage to the womb
  • The IUD can be accidentally expelled from the uterus. This could lead to pregnancy if it is not noticed on time

Where to get an IUD

Free IUD can be gotten at

  • Contraception clinics
  • Sexual health clinics
  • GP surgeons
  • Young people’s services