Coil – Intrauterine systems and device

Interested in the coil? Watch the video below, it contains very useful information.

Hormonal coil, IUS (intrauterine system)

The hormonal coil, also known as the IUS (intrauterine system) is a small T-shaped plastic device that sits in your womb and releases the progestogen hormone. IUD (non hormonal intrauterine systems) are similar but they don't release any hormones. The hormonal coil thickens the mucus from your cervix, making it difficult for sperm to move through and reach an egg. It also thins the womb lining so that it's less likely to accept a fertilised egg. It may also stop ovulation (the release of an egg) in some women. It is long-acting and reversible, so you can take it out if you want to get pregnant.

It works for five years or three years, depending on the type, so you don't have to think about contraception every day or each time you have sex. Two brands of IUS are used in the UK – Mirena and Jaydess.
It is the sixth most popular method of contraception in the UK, and is becoming more popular, particularly amongst women over 25.

Benefits:

  • Works for three or five years
  • You don’t have to prepare for or interrupt sex
  • You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day
  • If you have heavy or painful periods, the IUS can make your periods lighter, shorter, and sometimes less painful – they may stop completely
  • Fertility will return to normal when the IUS is removed
  • The IUS is not affected by other medicines
  • It is one of the most effective contraceptive methods available in the UK.

Disadvantages:

  • Some women won't be happy with the way that their periods may change. For example, periods may become lighter and more irregular or, in some cases, stop completely. Your periods are more likely to stop completely with Mirena than with Jaydess
  • Irregular bleeding and spotting are common in the first six months after having an IUS fitted. This is not harmful and usually decreases with time
  • Some women experience headaches, acne and breast tenderness after having the IUS fitted
  • Small risk of infection within 20 days of fitting
  • An uncommon side effect of the IUS is the appearance of small fluid-filled cysts on the ovaries – these usually disappear without treatment
  • An IUS doesn't protect you against STIs, so you may also have to use condoms when having sex. If you get an STI while you have an IUS fitted, it could lead to pelvic infection if it's not treated.

How is an IUS fitted?

Before you have an IUS fitted, you will have an internal examination to determine the size and position of your womb. This is to make sure that the IUS can be positioned in the correct place.
You may also be tested for any existing infections, such as STIs. It is best to do this before an IUS is fitted so that any infections can be treated. You may be given antibiotics at the same time as an IUS is fitted.
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to insert an IUS:

  • The vagina is held open like it is during a cervical screening (smear) test
  • The IUS is inserted through the cervix and into the womb
  • The fitting process can be uncomfortable or painful for some women, and you may also experience cramps afterwards.

How effective is it?

The IUS is over 99% effective. This means that less than 1 in every 100 women who use a Mirena IUS will get pregnant over the 5 years of use and less than 1 in every 100 women that use a Jaydess IUS over the 3 years of use.

What makes it less effective?

  • If the IUS moves out of place it will be less effective
  • A check-up 6 weeks after fitting is recommended

For more information visit the FPA website.

Non hormonal coil, IUD (intrauterine device)

An IUD is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s inserted into your womb (uterus) by a specially trained doctor or nurse. The IUD works by stopping the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or fallopian tubes. It may also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb. The IUD is a long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) method. This means that once it's in place, you don't have to think about it each day or each time you have sex. There are several types and sizes of IUD.

You can use an IUD whether or not you've had children. It is also very effective emergency contraception. It is particularly popular amongst 20-34-year-olds.

Benefits:

  • Works for 5 or 10 years (depending on type used)
  • You don’t have to prepare for or interrupt sex
  • You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day
  • Not affected by other medicines
  • More effective form of emergency contraception than ‘morning after’ pill
  • Your fertility returns to normal once the IUD is removed
  • The IUD is a hormone-free method.

Disadvantages:

  • Your periods may become heavier, longer or more painful, though this may improve after a few months
  • May get cramps and spotting/bleeding for a few days after fitting
  • Small risk of infection within 20 days of fitting
  • An IUD doesn't protect against STIs, so you may have to use condoms as well. If you get an STI while you have an IUD, it could lead to a pelvic infection if not treated.

How is an IUD fitted?

Before you have an IUD fitted, you will have an internal examination to determine the size and position of your womb. This is to make sure that the IUD can be positioned in the correct place.
You may also be tested for any existing infections, such as STIs. It is best to do this before an IUD is fitted so that any infections can be treated. You may be given antibiotics at the same time.
It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to insert an IUD:

  • The vagina is held open like it is during a cervical screening (smear) test
  • The IUD is inserted through the cervix and into the womb
    The fitting process can be uncomfortable or painful for some women, and you may also experience cramps afterwards.

How effective is it?

The IUD is 98-99% effective depending on the type of IUD. This means that between 1 and 2 women in every 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant each year.

What makes it less effective?

  • If the IUD moves out of place it will be less effective
  • A check-up 6 weeks after the fitting is recommended.

For more information visit the FPA website.

I already have an IUD/IUS and I would like to change it.

We are constantly looking at ways to simplify care and reduce unnecessary appointments, therefore if you already have a coil and it is due for replacement please make an appointment at one of our clinics to have it changed.

To ensure that you are fully informed please watch the short video below which will provide you with all the information you need. Please also print and complete the Self-assessment form and bring it with you to your appointment. If you would prefer to speak to a clinician please make an appointment for a consultation.

(c) NHS Lothian 2017. Used with permission.