IUD stands for Intrauterine Device, intrauterine meaning inside the uterus. It might look strange but it is a highly effective, small, T-shaped device containing a copper thread, which is placed in the uterus by your healthcare provider. The IUD releases copper ions, which immobilizes the sperm and makes it really hard for them to move around in the womb, but does not stop the ovaries from making an egg each month. On the rare occasion a sperm does get through, the copper stops a fertilized egg from implanting itself to the lining too. The IUD, once inserted into the womb, can stay in place for up 5 or 10 years (depending on the type) or until you decide to remove it.

How to use it?

Once your healthcare provider has made sure the IUD is a suitable method for you based on your medical history and you’ve decided to use it, the IUD is inserted into the woman’s womb through her vagina by a well-trained healthcare provider where it stays for up to 5 or 10 years depending on the type. A plastic string tied to the end of the IUD hangs down through the cervix. A health care provider uses the string to remove the IUD when the woman wants it removed or it eventually needs to be replaced.

After the IUD is removed, the contraceptive effect wears off quickly and your fertility returns immediately. You can become pregnant as rapidly as women who have used no contraceptive at all. The copper IUD is highly effective, however, it is not a method that is suitable for women who react to copper. This is why you need to discuss the method with your healthcare provider beforehand to make sure it’s right for you.

Questions? Ask the Lydia Contact Centre

Pros and Cons

  • Pros

    • It can stay in place for up to 5 or 12 years (depending on the type), but can be removed any time
    • At 99%, it’s one of the most effective contraceptive methods
    • Suitable for women who want long-acting reversible contraception for up to 5 or 12 years and wish to avoid daily, weekly or monthly regimen
    • It doesn’t interrupt sex
    • It isn’t affected by other medications
    • It can also be used as emergency contraception, if inserted within five days after unprotected sex
    • It can offer an alternative to those affected by the hormone estrogen
    • It can be used when breastfeeding
    • Fertility returns to previous levels once the IUD is removed

  • Cons

    • It requires a trained healthcare provider for insertion and removal
    • It may causes cramps and/or irregular bleeding
    • Some women experience headaches, tenderness and acne after an IUD is fitted
    • Small risk of infection at insertion and of expulsion
    • Does not protect against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)