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Find out about our vasectomy, contraception, and counselling services.

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We're the leading independent provider of sexual and reproductive health services in the UK.

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The Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Find out all you need to know about the IUD

The intrauterine device (IUD)

The intrauterine device (IUD) (also known as the “coil” or “copper coil” or “copper T” or “loop”) is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that is fitted in the uterus (womb). It provides contraceptive protection for up to ten years.

The copper stops the sperm and egg from surviving inside the uterus and fallopian tubes, so sperm cannot fertilise an egg.

Contraception at MSI UK

At MSI UK, we primarily offer contraception services as part of your abortion care. We also recently launched new "standalone" contraception clinics in a number of areas, meaning you can access contraception with us without having had a termination of pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more about our standalone contraception services.

Getting the IUD

Inserting an IUD is a simple procedure that takes about 5 minutes. A trained person inserts the IUD through the vagina. The IUD sits in the uterus and does not move from there.

There are threads attached to the IUD which sit in the vagina that assist with removal and allow you and your provider want to check the IUD is in the right place.

It is rare for the IUD to fall out or move. Most women can self-examine and feel the small, very thin thread attached to the end of the IUD which comes out of the cervix and into the vagina. When you have the IUD inserted make sure your healthcare provider shows you how to find the thread so you feel confident to find it again.

 

Coil fitting and pain relief 

At MSI we offer anyone opting for an IUS or IUD a choice of three types of local anaesthetic, including: a gel, a spray and an injection, as well as the option of taking painkillers, such as ibuprofen, an hour or two before the procedure. We also always have another health care practitioner in attendance to support the client and ensure they feel comfortable and in control throughout.

Read our full statement on fitting intrauterine contraception (IUC) and pain relief.

Video - The IUD

Would you like to find out everything you need to know about the IUD in under two minutes? We've created this short explainer video, filled with information about the IUD:

  • What it is and how it works
  • How effective it is in protecting against pregnancy
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Risks
MSI UK midwife in a clinic showing a client a contraceptive coil

How effective is the IUD?

The IUD works very well at preventing pregnancy

1 of 100 of people who use the IUD will become pregnant

The IUD can also be used as the most effective method of emergency contraception, and can be fitted up to 120 hours or five days after unprotected sex. 

Click here to find out more about how the IUD works as a method of  emergency contraception.

Advantages, Disadvantages, Side Effects and Risks of the IUD

As with all contraceptive methods, there are a range of advantages, disadvantages and potential side effects when using the IUD.

Advantages of the IUD

  • Once in place, you don’t need to think about the IUD or do anything until it needs replacing, which can be up to 10 years depending on the type of IUD you are using.
  • You can get the IUD removed whenever you want
  • Your fertility will return to normal immediately after the IUD is removed.
  • The IUD contains no hormones, so does not have any hormonal side effects and you will still experience your period.
  • The IUD can be inserted right after childbirth, abortion or miscarriage.
  • It is not used during sex so will not affect spontaneity. Neither you nor your partner should be aware of the IUD during sex.

Disadvantages of the IUD

  • An IUD requires a vaginal examination with a simple, short procedure to fit it in the uterus (womb).
  • The main side effect of IUD is heavier, more painful, and/or longer periods. Some users might also experience light spotting between periods, especially in the first few months after insertion. In most cases these side effects tend to settle down after the first three to six months.
  • Condoms are the only contraceptive method which protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend "dual protection". This means using a male or female condom in addition to the contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy.

Risks associated with the IUD

  • Anaemia if menstrual bleeding is prolonged and heavy.
  • There is a small risk of infection when the IUD is put in.
  • There’s a very small risk that the IUD might go through (perforate) your uterus (womb) or cervix when it’s put in. If it does happen, the IUD may have to be removed by surgery.
  • The IUD moves out of place or falls out and stops providing protection against pregnancy.

Where can I book an appointment for IUD fitting and removal?

In the UK, you can make an appointment to have the IUD fitted or removed – and to access other LARC (Long-Acting Reversible Contraception) services, such as implant fitting and removal - at sexual health clinics, contraception clinics and some GP surgeries.

At MSI UK, we primarily offer contraception services as part of your abortion care. We also recently launched new contraception-only clinics in a number of areas, meaning you can access contraception with us without having had a termination of pregnancy. Follow the link to find out more: MSI UK Contraception Clinics

Try "Choice"!

It’s important to know more about different contraceptive options so that we can support you as best we can. Our digital counsellor "Choice" helps you find the best contraceptive options for you. Fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle, preferences, needs and medical history, and you'll see a list of the most appropriate contraception options for you, or compare and view information on specific contraceptive methods.

Other LARC Methods

LARC methods include the contraceptive implant, the contraceptive injection, and both coils (IUD and IUS). Click on the links below to find out more.

The Contraceptive Implant

Find out all you need to know about the contraceptive implant.

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The Contraceptive Injection

Find out all you need to know about the contraceptive injection.

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The intrauterine system (IUS)

Find out all you need to know about the intrauterine system (IUS).

Read more