IntraUterineDevice(IUD)

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a form of contraception that involves a small contraceptive devices being put in the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy. There are two main types available in Australia; the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD (Mirena).

IUDs belong to a group of contraception options called Long Acting Reversible Contraceptions (LARCs). These are the most effective forms of contraception, are easy to maintain, and are completely reversible.

IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or blood-borne viruses (BBVs). Practice safer sex by using condoms to reduce the risk of STIs and BBVs.

IUD Guides

Watch a video about IUDs

Reproduced with permission from Lothian Sexual Health, (c) NHS Lothian 2019.

 

IUD FAQs

    What is an IUD?

    Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small contraceptive devices that are placed in the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.  At Family Planning Tasmania two types of IUD are used. All IUD’s need to be fitted and removed by a specially trained doctor.

    The hormonal IUD (Mirena)is made of plastic and releases small amounts of progestogen into the uterus.

    The Copper IUD (Copper T or Mona Lisa) is made of plastic and has copper wrapped around it.

    Both types of IUD are very effective methods of contraception and can stay in place for 5-10 years depending on the IUD.

    All IUD’s have a fine nylon thread attached to the end. When the device is in place, the thread comes out through the cervix (entrance to the uterus) into the top of the vagina. This piece of thread lets you check that the IUD is still in place and makes it easy for a doctor to take it out. You cannot feel the thread unless you put your finger deep inside your vagina

    IUDs, both copper and hormonal, do not give you protection from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The best way to lessen the risk of STIs is to use a barrier method such as condoms with new sexual partners.

    How does an IUD work?

    IUDs affect sperm movement to the egg and change the lining of the uterus (womb) to make it difficult for a fertilised egg to take hold. An egg becomes fertilised  when a sperm and egg have merged together

    Hormonal IUDs thicken the mucus at the neck of the uterus (womb), blocking the sperm. They may also affect ovulation by changing the hormones that cause an egg to be released each month

    Copper IUDs affect the way sperm can move and survive in the uterus, and stop sperm cells from reaching and fertilising the ovum (egg). IUDs also change the lining of the uterus to stop a fertilised ovum from sticking.

    When choosing the method of contraception that best suits you, it can help to talk to a doctor or nurse about your options. Different methods may suit you better at different times in your life. The doctors or nurses at Family Planning Tasmania can give you information about the different benefits and risks of using IUDs, or your regular doctor or nurse may be able to give you advice

    How well do IUDs work?

    Both types of IUD are among the most effective methods of contraception available and can stay in place for at least five years.

    The hormonal IUD is 99.8% effective, and the copper IUD is 99.5% effective.

    IUDs belong to a group of contraception options called Long Acting Reversible Contraception’s (LARCs). These are the most effective forms of contraception, are easy to maintain, and are completely reversible.

    What's good about an IUD?

    • They are reliable and work very well (>99% effective)
    • They are a ‘set and forget’ method with the strings only needing to be checked by you once a month.
    • There is a rapid return to usual fertility (ability to have children) when an IUD is removed
    • An IUD can be taken out at any time by a trained doctor or nurse
    • They are cheap as they work for a long time. Copper IUDs work for 5 or 10 years and the hormonal IUD better known as the Mirena works for 5 years.
    • They do not interfere with breastfeeding

    Copper versus hormonal IUDs (Mirena)?

    There are a number of differences between the copper and hormonal IUDs.

    The advantages of hormonal IUD (Mirena) include:

    • Reduces amount of blood loss with periods
    • Reduces period and pelvic pain
    • For women who have heavy periods, the Mirena can make bleeding much lighter and sometimes stops periods all together
    • For women 45 years or over who are using the Mirena for contraception it can be left in for 7 years
    • IUD can be used by menopausal women as the progesterone component of HRT to balance the oestrogen effect on the uterus.

    The advantages of a Copper IUD include:

    • There is no hormone
    • Some women prefer to have a regular period and the copper IUD provides this as it does not interfere with a women’s cycle.
    • In some circumstances a copper IUD can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy occurring. It can be left in place to provided ongoing contraception.

    Other Differences between Hormonal & Copper T include:

     Menstruation

    • After a hormonal IUD has been put in, you may experience three to five months of frequent and irregular bleeding between periods. After this time, your periods may be shorter, lighter and less painful. About 50% of women stop bleeding all together (this is completely safe)
    • After a copper IUD has been put in, you may experience a few weeks of irregular bleeding between periods. After this time, your periods may be heavier and more painful.

    Suitability

    • The hormonal IUD should not be used if you have had breast cancer in the last five years.
    • The copper IUD may make periods heavier, more painful and longer. It may also worsen anaemia.

     Hormonal side effects

    • While most women do not get hormonal side effects with the hormonal IUD, very occasionally it may cause headaches, acne, mood changes and breast tenderness in the first few months.
    • You are more likely to develop ovarian cysts with a hormonal IUD. Most ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms and are not harmful, but can occasionally cause pelvic pain.
    • The copper IUD has no hormonal side effects.

     

    Are there any side effects from having an IUD?

    Possible side effects include:

    • There is small risk of infection at the time the IUD is put in and for the first 3 weeks after insertion.
    • There is also a small risk of perforation, which is when the IUD makes a hole in the wall of the uterus when it is put in.
    • If the IUD does not work and you get pregnant, there may be complications if you continue with the pregnancy.
    • The IUD can fall out.

    Please remember even if an IUD becomes infected or perforates this rarely affects fertility.

    Hormonal side effects

    • While most women do not get hormonal side effects with the hormonal IUD, very occasionally it may cause headaches, acne, mood changes and breast tenderness in the first few months.
    • You are more likely to develop ovarian cysts with a hormonal IUD. Most ovarian cysts do not cause any symptoms and are not harmful, but can occasionally cause pelvic pain.
    • The copper IUD has no hormonal side effects

    Can anyone get an IUD?

    Most women can get an IUD. The Hormonal IUD is the most popular form of Long Acting Reversible Contraception in the world. It is safe for women who have never had a pregnancy to have an IUD.

    During the assessment appointment the doctor will check to see if an IUD is suitable for you.

    You may not be able to have an IUD fitted if you:

    • Have an active pelvic infection or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
    • Are at high risk of STIs i.e. you have multiple partners and don’t use a condom.
    • Have had certain types of surgery to the cervix.
    • Have a condition that might alter the shape of the uterus e.g. some fibroids.
    • Have had breast cancer in the last 5 years (Hormonal IUD only).
    • If you already have heavy painful periods or if you are anaemic (Copper IUD only).

    What do I need to do to get an IUD?

    You can get an IUD inserted at Family Planning Tasmania clinics, some GPs, private gynaecologists, and at the public hospital.

    To get an IUD fitted at Family Planning Tasmania (FPT) clinics you will need to attend 3 appointments

    1st Appointment

    At the 1st appointment we discuss the procedure, check if an IUD will be suitable for you, do any necessary tests & arrange interval contraception.

    2nd Appointment

    At the 2nd appointment the IUD is fitted.

    3rd Appointment

    The  3rd appointment usually occurs 6 weeks after having your IUD fitted and the doctor will check to see how you are going.

    For Health care, Disability & Pension card holders, your consultation will be bulk – billed on presentation of a current Concession & Medicare card.

    For all other clients there will be an out of pocket (gap) costs and an annual administration fee.To find out more about fees click here

    Hormonal IUD’s can be purchased with a prescription from your local chemist.

    The Copper IUD costs $100 & is purchased from Family Planning Tasmania.

     

     

    How does an IUD get inserted and removed?

    IUD’s need a small procedure to be fitted/inserted. This procedure is carried out by a trained professional in a clinical environment.

    To get an IUD inserted at Family Planning Tasmania you will need to attend three appointments.

    Never attempt to remove an IUD yourself. Removal should only be undertaken by a health professional who will remove it by pulling gently on the threads. Mild cramping and some bleeding may be experienced when the device is removed.

    It is important to consider future contraceptive needs before you have your IUD removed, as its contraceptive effects will cease immediately upon removal and your fertility will return to what it was before you got your IUD. Discuss your options with a health professional.

    What could stop an IUD from working?

    IUD’s last for 5-10 years depending on which one you get.

    You need to make sure you replace the UD when it is due otherwise it will stop working.

    You also  you need to remember check the threads once a month to ensure the IUD is in place.

    IUDs are not affected by medication or infections like gastro.

    What else do I need to know about IUDs?

    What else do you need to know

    • The hormonal IUD should not be used if you have had breast cancer in the last 5 years.
    • It is safe to have an IUD fitted from 4 weeks after having a baby for most women & it is safe to breast feed.
    • Never attempt to remove an IUD yourself. Removal should be undertaken by a
      trained professional. Some Mild cramping and bleeding will occur when the device is removed.
    • Hormonal IUD’s can be inserted at any time if there is no chance you are pregnant.They take 7 days to start working as a contraceptive.
    • Copper IUD’s can also be inserted at any time if there is no chance you are pregnant. They start working as soon as they are inserted.
    • A Copper IUD can be used as a type of emergency contraception if it is fitted within 5 days of  having unprotected sex.
    • There is a rapid return to usual fertility (ability to have children) when an IUD is removed.
    • Your doctor will talk to you about what short term contraception you will need in the few weeks prior to insertion. This is to make sure that there is no chance that you are pregnant on the day your IUD is fitted.
    • With a copper IUD, your periods will continue as normal.
    • With a hormonal IUD it may take a few weeks for your period to return.

    Are IUDs safe if you're breastfeeding?

    It is safe to breastfeed if you have an IUD.

    What happens if I get pregnant while I have an IUD?

    A pregnancy is very rare with an IUD but if it does occur there is an increased risk of infection and miscarriage and problems with the pregnancy.

    If you think you might be pregnant and you have an IUD you should see your FPT clinic or doctor immediately.

    Where can I get more information, support or advice?

    Family Planning Tasmania has clinics in Glenorchy, Launceston, and Burnie. Click here

    Any of our Doctors or Nurses can assist you with information or support about IUD’s, or you can talk to your regular GP.

    You can also download our My Choice App which can help you to be informed and take control of you own sexual health. Go to My Choice

     

    MakeanAppointment
    Glenorchy
    9am-5pm Mon-Fri6273 9117
    Launceston
    9am-5pm Mon-Fri6343 4566
    Burnie
    9am-5pm Mon, Wed, Thurs6431 7692