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Adults » Contraception » Intrauterine contraceptive device

iud - coil

For information on the copper IUD we recommend that you watch this short film (from NHS Lothian), as it gives you all the information you need about intra-uterine methods. Alternatively read the information below.

The copper coil is very effective. Less than 2 women in 100 users will get pregnant over 5 years of use.

How it works
A small T-shaped plastic and copper device is put into the womb. It prevents sperm from reaching an egg and it makes it difficult for a fertilised egg to settle in the womb (prevents implantation).

Possible Side Effects

  • Periods may be heavier, longer or more painful
  • Partner may feel threads during intercourse
  • May fall out (expulsion)
  • Risk of ectopic pregnancy, if IUD fails

Possible risks at time of insertion

  • There is a very small risk of perforating the womb
  • There is a risk of infection

Advantages / Benefits

  • Reliable
  • Lasts 5-10 years
  • No need to remember contraception
  • Fertility returns immediately once removed
  • It is free from any hormones


  • Not ideal choice for women with heavy, painful periods
  • Not suitable for those with current pelvic infection or certain untreated sexually transmitted diseases
  • Suitable for family spacing

Who can provide it?
List of GP's who fit IUD/IUS. (PDF 43Kb)

Trained doctor only, Sexual Health services or a GP


If you are under 25, have a new sexual partner or more than one sexual partner in the last year then you will require screening for chlamydia before insertion.
when fitted after age 40 years, it can be left in place until the menopause.
women are taught to feel threads in vagina to check position.
It is usually put in during days 1-14 of menstrual cycle (day 1 = first day of bleeding)