Intra-uterine device (IUD)
An intra-uterine device (IUD) is a small plastic object, containing either copper or a hormone. It is placed inside a woman’s uterus by a doctor, and left in place for 5 to 8 years. It stops the sperm reaching the egg, and also prevents a fertilised egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus.
- It is very convenient and cheap because it lasts up to 8 years, although the effectiveness may be slightly lower after 5 years.
- It can be removed at any time, with fertility returning quickly for most women.
Things to consider
- You must visit a doctor or health service to have it fitted.
- The IUD may not be suitable for some women.
- Sometimes there is pain or discomfort when it is inserted, and from time to time once in place.
- Periods may be heavier with more cramps.
- Each month you must check that the IUD is still in place. Your doctor will show you how to do this.
- Pelvic infection can be a risk for some women, which could lead to infertility in the future.
- If you have any unusual bleeding or pain, you must check with your doctor or health service.
- The cost of an IUD, plus a doctor’s visit may be a lot to pay at 1 time.
- If there is any chance you are pregnant, you must see your doctor, as there could be complications such as miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
- Some IUDs, called intra-uterine system (IUS) also contain a slow releasing progestogen. These are more expensive, but may be suitable for women who have very heavy periods. Ask your doctor or health service for more information.
- IUDs are very effective contraceptives, but will not protect you against STIs or HIV.
Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Public Health
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