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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 System (IUS)

Find out all you need to know about the IUS.

The intrauterine system (IUS)

The intrauterine system (IUS) (known as multiple brand names, such as Mirena”) is a small T-shaped plastic device that is fitted in the uterus (womb). It provides contraceptive protection for up to five years.

The IUS steadily releases small amounts of a hormone called progestin which thickens the fluid around the neck of the uterus (stopping sperm from getting to an egg) and makes the lining of the uterus thinner so that a fertilised egg cannot grow. It also makes it harder for sperm to get into the uterus.

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 IUS

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

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

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

Video - The IUS

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

  • What it is and how it works
  • How effective it is in protecting against pregnancy
  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
  • Risks
Box containing contraceptive coil in MSI UK clinic

How effective is the IUS?

The IUS works very well at preventing pregnancy.

1 of 100 of people who use the IUS will become pregnant.

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.

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 IUS.

Advantages of the IUS

  • Once in place, you don’t need to think about the IUS or do anything until it needs replacing, which can be up to five years, depending on the type of IUS you are using.
  • You can get the IUS removed whenever you want.
  • Your fertility will return to normal immediately after the IUS is removed.
  • The IUS is great if you have heavy or painful periods, as it usually makes periods lighter and less painful. Many users stop getting periods with the IUS. Lighter or no monthly bleeding is not harmful and will not affect future fertility.
  • The IUS 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 IUS during sex.

Disadvantages of the IUS

  • An IUS requires a vaginal examination and a simple, short procedure to fit it in the uterus (womb).
  • The most common side effects of the IUS are lighter and fewer days of bleeding, or irregular bleeding. Many users stop having a monthly period. Irregular bleeding or spotting should settle within the first six months of use.
  • A small number of users may experience other side effects due to the hormone in the IUS, such as acne, headaches, or breast tenderness. These usually settle down after the first few months of use.
  • 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

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

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

In the UK, you can make an appointment to have the implant 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 our Digital Contraception Counsellor "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.

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 Device (IUD)

Find out all you need to know about the intrauterine device (IUD).

Read more