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Everything you ever wanted to know about IUDs and IUSs...

Over the years, IUDs (Intrauterine Device) and IUSs (Intrauterine system) have become a popular contraception method.

So, let’s begin by understanding what IUDs and IUSs are first and foremost.

What is an IUD or an IUS?

An IUD or IUS is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s put into your womb (uterus) by a doctor or a nurse as a method for contraception. It is a long-term, reversible and one of the most effective birth control methods out there.

 

How does an IUD or IUS work?

IUDs use copper and IUSs uses hormones. Copper IUDs releases copper to stop you from getting pregnant. It’s also often referred to as the ‘coil’ or ‘copper coil’. In short, sperms don’t like copper and therefore the copper IUD makes it almost impossible for the sperm to get to an egg.

The hormones in IUSs prevents pregnancy in two ways:

  1. They thicken the mucus that lives on the cervix, which blocks and traps the sperm.

  2. The hormones also sometimes stop eggs from leaving your ovaries (called ovulation), which means there’s no egg for a sperm to fertilize. The Mirena is one of the most common IUS.

 

What happens during the IUS/IUD fitting?

Fitting the IUS/IUD generally takes place in the outpatient department. However, it can be done under anaesthetic if it is necessary, or if you are having other procedures at the same time.

A speculum is inserted in the same way as when you have a smear test, and the neck of the womb is cleaned. A small instrument is then gently inserted into the womb to measure the length of the womb.

It may be necessary to give a local anaesthetic of either a gel or an injection. It may also be necessary to attach an instrument to the neck of the womb to stabilise it, which may cause pain for a few seconds.

The cervical canal that leads to the womb will be gently opened and then the IUS will be inserted. When this is inserted you may feel a sharp pain. After the procedure, you may feel like you have period pain for a few hours.

 

 How long do IUDs or IUSs last?

They tend to last between 5 and 10 years. If you decide to get pregnant or you just don’t want to have your IUD/IUS anymore, your nurse or doctor can quickly and easily take it out. You’re able to get pregnant right after the IUD is removed.

 

Top things you may not know about IUDs or IUSs:

  1. Can they be used as emergency contraception?

    YES! They can be used as emergency contraception if it is fitted within 120 hours of unprotected sex

  2. How effective is an IUD or IUS?

    It is more than 99.9% effective

  3. Will an IUD or IUD/IUS stop periods?

    It does not stop periods. In fact, sometimes they might get heavier, longer or more painful until it improves after a few months

  4. Does it protect from STDS?

    It does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections

  5. Can I gain weight from IUD or IUS?

    Studies have shown that copper IUDs do not cause weight gain and hormonal IUSs cause weight gain in about 5% of women.