Intrauterine Device (IUD)

NUPAS > Abortion Care > Contraception > Intrauterine Device (IUD)

Long-acting contraception without hormones

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a type of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). An IUD is sometimes called the copper coil. It is a small, plastic, T-shape device that contains copper. It is inserted into the womb (uterus) through the vagina and cervix. It does not contain hormones.

Once fitted it works as contraception for 5-10 years, depending on the type of IUD.

A trained doctor or nurse will fit the IUD. The procedure can take between 5 and 15 minutes. The fitting of an IUD may cause some discomfort or pain. At NUPAS we can provide painkillers or a local anaesthetic before the fitting.

The IUD will have one or two fine threads at the bottom. When the IUD is in place, these threads hang through the cervix opening and sit at the top of the vagina. This allows you to check that the IUD is still in place. This should be checked monthly.

The IUD can be taken out sooner if you choose. A trained doctor or nurse will remove the IUD. Your fertility returns to normal as soon as the IUD is removed.

How does the IUD work?

The copper in the IUD is released into the womb. The copper stops sperm and eggs from surviving in the womb. It also changes your cervical mucus (fluid at the neck of the womb) to stop sperm from reaching an egg. An IUD may also stop a fertilised egg from attaching to the womb lining and growing.


Did you know that an IUD can also be used as emergency contraception? The coil can be fitted as emergency contraception,

  • Up to 5 days after unprotected sex
  • Within 5 days of the earliest time, you could have released an egg.

The IUD is the most effective emergency contraception. An IUD does not cause an abortion. It stops fertilisation, or pregnancy from happening.

When can I start using an IUD?

An IUD can be fitted by an experienced doctor or nurse straight after an abortion. If you are having a surgical abortion, the IUD can be fitted during the procedure. You'll be protected against pregnancy immediately.

Advantages, Disadvantages and Effectiveness

All contraception has different advantages, disadvantages and effectiveness. It is important to look at this when finding the right contraception for you.

What are the advantages of the injection?

Does not interrupt sex

Works immediately

Works for between 5-10 years (depending on the type of IUD)

You don’t have to remember to take it every day

It is not affected by other medication

There are no hormonal side effects, such as headaches, sore breasts or acne

It's safe to use when breastfeeding

Can be used by people who cannot take oestrogen

Can be used as emergency contraception up to 5 days after unprotected sex

It is usually easy to remove (by a trained doctor or nurse)

What are the disadvantages of the injection?

Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

The insertion process may cause some discomfort or pain

Periods may become longer, heavier and more painful for the first few months

What are the risks of the IUD?

There's a very small chance of getting a pelvic infection when the IUD is put in.

There's some evidence that an IUD may give a slightly higher chance of recurring thrush.

There's a small chance that the IUD can be rejected (pushed out) by the womb.

There is a risk that the IUD could come out after a period (1 in 20 users).

There is a small chance that the IUD could move (displacement).

In rare cases, an IUD can make a hole in the womb (perforate) when it’s put in. The risk is extremely low (fewer than 2 in 1000 people) with experienced fitters. If you’re feeling pain or cannot feel the threads of your IUD, you may need surgery to remove it.

If the IUD fails and you become pregnant, there’s a rare risk of ectopic pregnancy. This is when an embryo starts to grow outside of the womb.

How effective is the IUD?

The copper IUD is over 99% effective. Less than 1 in 100 users will get pregnant in a year.

What makes it less effective?

  • If the IUD is fitted incorrectly.
  • If the IUD moves out of place.
  • If the IUD comes out.

The correct position of the IUD can be checked by feeling for the threads at the top of your vagina.

Protection from STIs

The IUD does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). We recommend that you also use condoms to protect against STIs. We offer all our patients condoms to take away with them. Get in touch if you’d like advice on the different contraception options after an abortion. 

Contraception options available at NUPAS

At your abortion appointment, we will discuss contraception options with you.

Fertility can come back as soon 5 days after an abortion. This means you could get pregnant again if contraception is not used. There are lots of methods of contraception to choose from so don’t be put off if the first type isn’t quite right for you.

Find out more about contraception options available at NUPAS. 

Get in touch with NUPAS

Give us a call:

United Kingdom:
0333 004 6666

Republic of Ireland:
(01) 874 0097

0044 161 4872660

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