Intra-uterine Device / Copper Coil
What is it?
- A small, soft, flexible, T shaped device (with parts of it coated in copper) that fits inside the womb.
- It is easily inserted by a trained health care professional.
How does it work?
- Prevents sperm surviving in the womb and fallopian tubes and therefore stops fertilisation of an egg.
- Prevents implantation of a fertilised egg in the womb lining.
What’s great about it?
- Extremely effective (>99%). Less than 6 in 1000 women will fall pregnant using the device.
- Contraception lasts for 5-10 years unless you want it removed earlier.
- Doesn’t contain hormones so can be used by women who can’t tolerate or use hormonal methods and won’t affect the natural frequency of your periods.
- Fertility rapidly returns after it is removed.
- Can be used by women who have never had a baby.
- Will be no need to take pills, interrupt sex or requirement to attend clinic regularly after insertion.
- Is not affected by other medications.
What’s not so great about it?
- No protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - condoms advised.
- Insertion can be slightly uncomfortable. Local anaesthetic is offered.
- Periods may be a little longer, heavier or more painful. This may improve.
- Can become displaced or fall out (expulsion) but this is uncommon (5 in 100) and you can do checks yourself to make sure it’s in place.
- Small risk of pelvic infection for up to 3 weeks after insertion. This risk is reduced by having a sexual health screen before it’s fitted.
- Very small risk of perforating the womb or cervix (1 in 500).
Where can I get it?
- Sexual Health services. A preliminary appointment is usually required before fitting this method to discuss the method fully, screen for infections and schedule a fitting date.
- Family planning clinics
- Some GP practices