IntraUterineDevice(IUD)FAQs

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.

    What is an IUD?

    Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are small contraceptive devices that are put in the uterus (womb) to prevent pregnancy.  There are two types of IUD available in Australia; the copper IUD and the hormonal IUD (Mirena). Both types of IUD need to be fitted by a specially trained doctor.

    The hormonal IUD contains progestogen. This is a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone that women make naturally.

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

    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.

    What are the difference between copper and hormonal IUDs (Mirena)?

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

    Differences in menstruation include:

    • 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.

    Differences in costs include:

    • The hormonal IUD is covered by a Health Care Card. It costs $6.00 if you are a card holder and $37.00 if you do not have a card.
    • The copper IUD is not covered by a Health Care Card and costs around $100.

    Differences in suitability include:

    • The hormonal IUD should not be used if you have had breast cancer in the last five years.
    • With rare exceptions, the copper IUD will not have any known effect on existing medical conditions.

    Differences in hormonal side effects include:

    • 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.

    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 can I access and IUD?

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

     

    How much does an IUD cost?

    Depending on the IUD you choose and whether you have a Health Care Card or not, a hormonal IUD could cost anywhere from $6.50 to $39.50 to buy from a pharmacist, plus any associated fees for inserting the IUD. The copper IUD needs to be purchased from Family Planning Tasmania and costs $100, plus any associated fees for inserting the IUD.

    Family Planning Tasmania has a clear fee structure with subsidised services for priority populations.

    The best idea is to have your initial appointment with Family Planning Tasmania or your regular doctor to ascertain what the price may be for you.

    Why would I use an IUD?

    You can get an IUD inserted if you are having sex and do not want to get pregnant at the moment.

    There are many advantages to choosing an IUD, including:

    • Both the copper and hormonal IUD are more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.
    • Both IUDs last between five and ten years.
    • Once an IUD has been inserted, you will only need to check the thread each month.
    • An IUD can be taken out at any time by a specially trained doctor or nurse.
    • Your chance of getting pregnant will go back to normal as soon as the copper or hormonal IUD has been taken out.
    • The hormonal IUD may help with heavy periods, period pain, and can be used as the progesterone part of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

    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 effective is an IUD?

    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 99.2% effective.

    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.

    How does an IUD work?

    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.

    The hormonal IUD can also make the fluid at the opening to the uterus thicker, stopping sperm from getting through and can also affect ovulation by changing the hormones that cause an ovum to be released each month.

    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.

    What could stop an IUD from working?

    If an IUD is inserted correctly it is over 99% effective.

    An IUD will work without you needing to remember to do anything other than check the threads once a month.

    IUDs are not affected by medication or infections like gastro.

    Can anyone get an IUD?

    Most women can get an IUD, and the Hormonal IUD is the most popular form of Long Acting Reversible Contraception in the world, however you should always discuss your suitability for contraceptive options with your health provider.

    It is safe for women who have never had a pregnancy to have an IUD.

    You may not be eligible for an IUD if you:

    • Have an active pelvic infection.
    • Have undiagnosed 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).

    Can I get an IUD after I've had a baby?

    It is safe to have an IUD inserted from 4 weeks after having a baby for most women.

    It is safe to breastfeed if you have an IUD.

    When can I have an IUD inserted?

    Hormonal IUDs can be inserted at any time that we can be sure you are not pregnant, and it will take 7 days to start working as a contraceptive.

    Copper IUDs can also be inserted at any time that we can be sure that a woman is not pregnant, and 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 unprotected sex.

    Women are sometimes recommended to use a short form of alternative contraception in the few weeks prior to insertion to make sure that there is no chance that they are pregnant when an IUD insert is being inserted.

    How does an IUD get inserted?

    IUDs 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:

    1. We explain the procedure to you, check if an IUD will be suitable for you and do any necessary tests.
    2. Insertion
    3. Check-up 6 weeks after insertion

    How is an IUD removed?

    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.

    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 with the pregnancy if you continue.
    • The IUD can fall out.

    Please also remember that neither type of IUD gives protections from STIs.  Also, for some people there are extra costs and difficulty accessing the service, as not all doctors are trained in IUD insertion

    Can IUDs cause serious health problems?

    While the hormonal IUD may can cause minor health problems such as headaches, acne, breast tenderness, and ovarian cysts, IUDs rarely cause any serious health problems.

    Even if an IUD becomes infected or perforates this rarely affects fertility.

    When will I have my next period after getting an IUD?

    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.

     

    Do I need a pregnancy test after getting an IUD?

    IUDs can be inserted at any time that pregnancy can be confidently excluded.  The hormonal IUD is effective immediately if inserted between day one (first day of bleeding) and day seven of a women’s menstrual cycle.

    Talk to your Family Planning Tasmania clinic or health provider for more detail.

    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.

    Does an IUD protect against STIs?

    An IUD does not protect you from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) or Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs).

    Using condoms reduces the risk of STIs and BBVs.

    Where can I get more information, support or advice?

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

     

    Any of our Doctors or Nurses can assist you with information about IUDs, or provide support with Emergency Contraception.

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