An IUD coil on the palm

The copper coil (or IUD) is made of plastic and copper.

It's put into the womb by a doctor or nurse, and lasts 5 to 10 years.

The IUD is popular because it has no hormones.

Effectiveness

Positives

  • It doesn’t interrupt sex
  • It doesn't contain hormones
  • No need to remember pills or patches
  • Lasts 5 to 10 years
  • It's usually quick and easy to take out
  • It’s extremely good at preventing pregnancy
  • Almost all women can use the IUD

Negatives

  • Can make periods heavier and more painful
  • Having it put in can be painful
  • The IUD can come out (1 in 20 women)
  • STI check needed before putting it in

Rare risks

  • IUD through the wall of the womb when it's put in (fewer than 1 in 1000 women)
  • Pregnancy outside the womb (ectopic pregnancy) - possible but rare

The IUD is great if pills are a nuisance to remember 

It lasts up to 10 years, and is not affected by other medicines, vomiting or diarrhoea

The IUD does not cause infertility

Fertility returns to normal after having the IUD taken out.  It’s important to know that it’s less easy to get pregnant as women gets older – it’s naturally harder to get pregnant over the age of 35

Partners won’t feel the IUD during sex

Some men do notice the threads during sex, but the threads can be trimmed so they are out of the way

Nobody knows that you have the IUD

You can’t see it and women still get periods.  If periods are heavier and more painful, this can be treated by medication from a GPSome women can't have the IUD - Some conditions mean that the IUD won’t be right for you, but most women can have it

The IUS can come out especially after periods in the first three months (1 in 20 women)

Using a menstrual cup for periods can pull the IUS out

It's important to check the threads (feeling for them inside the vagina after every period)

What's right for you?

Good to know

The IUD has no hormones and is very reliable.

Periods can be heavy, and the IUD doesn't help PMT.

The IUD can be painful to put in, but is usually easy to take out.

The IUD lasts for 5 to 10 years (depending on the type). 

How much effort is the IUD?

The IUD is put in by a doctor or nurse at a GP surgery, sexual health clinic or family planning clinic. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to put in.

The fitting can be painful, and it’s common to have some pain and bleeding for a few days after. Find out more about where to get an IUD here

It's important to make sure a woman is not already pregnant when it's put in. Clinics will advise about this.

How effective is the IUD?

The IUD is more than 99% effective – if 100 women use the IUD for a year, less than one will have an unplanned pregnancy. 

How does it work?

The IUD is made of plastic and copper. The copper stops the sperm and egg from surviving inside the womb and fallopian tubes, so sperm cannot fertilise an egg. Find out more about how the body works here.

When the IUD is removed, a woman can get pregnant immediately. 

The IUD itself can't be felt by a woman or partners because it lies right inside the womb. Two soft threads sit high up inside the vagina, and male partners can occasionally feel them.

Periods can be heavier and more painful when using the IUD. This can be treated by medication from a GP.

What's right for you?