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Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Intrauterine Method

An IUD is a small, flexible, often T-shaped device wrapped in copper that is placed inside your womb by your healthcare provider.

IUD 49
Intrauterine Device (IUD)

5-10 Years

Highly effective
Widely available
Easy to use

Details / How to


The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) is a small, flexible plastic frame with copper sleeves or wire around it that is inserted into your womb by a trained healthcare professional. The copper makes it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg and survive. It can also stop a fertilised egg from implanting itself.

It is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy, and it lasts for 5 to 10 years, depending on the type.


An IUD needs to be fitted by a trained healthcare professional. The appointment takes about 20 to 30 minutes and fitting the IUD should take no longer than 5 minutes. Having an IUD fitted can be uncomfortable, and some people might find it painful. Some women get period-type cramps afterwards, but you can use painkillers to ease the cramps. You may also bleed for a few days after having an IUD fitted.

You can have your IUD removed at any time by a healthcare professional. As you can get pregnant as soon as the IUD has been taken out, use additional contraception, such as condoms.

Pros / Cons


  • IUDs are more than 99% effective when inserted correctly
  • It protects against pregnancy for 5 or 10 years, depending on the type
  • It is suitable for women who want to avoid having to remember to take contraceptive pills or injections, and who want a long-acting, reversible contraceptive method.
  • There are no hormonal side effects, such as acne, headaches or breast tenderness.
  • It does not interrupt sex



  • Some women may have heavier, longer or more painful periods, though this may improve after a few months.
  • Some women may have spotting or bleeding between periods.
  • There’s a small risk of getting an infection after the IUD is fitted.
  • It does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as HIV), so you may need to use condoms as well


You may experience:

  • Changes in your monthly bleeding patterns,including:
    • Lighter bleeding and fewer days of bleeding
    • Irregular bleeding
    • Infrequent bleeding
    • No monthly bleeding
    • Periods that last longer

These changes in bleeding are normal and are not harmful. If you find them bothersome, speak to your healthcare professional.

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Painful and tender breasts
  • Weight gain
  • Mood changes
  • Acne
  • There is an increased risk of ovarian cysts

Frequently Asked Questions

An IUD (Intrauterine Device) insertion is usually well tolerated by most women. Local anesthesia may be applied to the uterine cervix prior to the insertion. Some women may experience pain and dizziness after insertion, which usually settles after resting for a short time.

The IUD can be used as an emergency contraception and must be inserted within 5 to 8 days (ideally within 120 hours) after unprotected sex. Because of the insertion procedure, the IUD is not suitable to be used regularly as emergency contraception.

Neither you nor your partner should feel the IUD during sexual intercourse. If you do, sexual intercourse should be avoided until your doctor has checked that the IUD is still in the correct position.

The IUD must be inserted by a trained healthcare provider who will follow the necessary procedure to ensure it is correctly positioned. Occasionally, the muscular contractions of the womb during menstruation may sometimes push it out of place or expel it. Very rarely it can perforate the wall of the uterus. If a user of an IUD experiences any unusual bleeding, pain or discomfort, her doctor must be informed as soon as possible.

Use of sanitary pads is recommended. If tampons are used, you should change them more frequently, and with care so as not to pull the threads of the IUD when manipulating the tampon.

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