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IUD (Intrauterine device)

IUD (Intrauterine device)

An IUD is a small, T-shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted into the womb (uterus) by a specially trained doctor or nurse.

The IUD works by stopping the sperm surviving in the womb or the fallopian tubes. It may also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting in the womb.  

The IUD is a long acting reversible contraception (LARC) method.  The IUD is a non-hormonal method of contraception and can be used whether or not you’ve had children.

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Key Facts

  • There are different types of IUD and they can work between 5 to 10 years.
  • It can be put in at any time, as long as you’re not pregnant. It can also be removed at any time by a specially trained doctor or nurse.
  • The IUD does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) you will need to use condoms as well.
  • It’s non-hormonal so your fertility returns to normal once the IUD is removed.

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Who can use the IUD?

Most women can use an IUD. This includes women who have never been pregnant and those who are HIV positive.  Your doctor or nurse will take your medical history and check to see if this is the most suitable form for you.

You should not use the IUD if you have:

  • an untreated STI or a pelvic infection
  • problems with your womb or cervix
  • any unexplained bleeding from your vagina – for example, between periods or after sex.

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After having a baby

An IUD can be fitted 4- 6 weeks after giving birth (vaginal or caesarean).  In some cases it can be fitted within 48 hours of giving birth.  An IUD is safe to use when your breastfeeding and won’t affect your milk supply.

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After a miscarriage or abortion

An IUD can be fitted straightaway or with 48 hours after a miscarriage or abortion by an experienced doctor or nurse, as long as you were pregnant less than 24 weeks. If you were pregnant more than 24 weeks then you may have to wait a few weeks before having an IUD fitted.

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Advantages and disadvantages of the IUD

Advantages

  • It does not interrupt sex
  • Once fitted, the IUD works immediately and lasts for between 5-10 years.
  • It can used by women who cannot use hormonal forms of contraception such as the contraceptive pill, vaginal ring, IUS and contraceptive patch.
  • It’s not affected by other medicines.

Disadvantages

  • It does not protect you from STIs
  • Your periods may become heavier, more painful or last longer
  • If you do become pregnant while you are using the IUD there is a small risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • There is a small risk of perforation of the uterus

Free and confidential advice and support

Contact a sexual health adviser


The Passionate about Sexual Health (PaSH) Partnership) is a collaboration between BHA for Equality, George House Trust and the LGBT Foundation. The PaSH Partnership will deliver a comprehensive programme of interventions to meet the changing needs of people newly diagnosed with HIV, living longer term with HIV or at greatest risk of acquiring HIV.

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