Intrauterine contraception (IUD)
There are two forms of intrauterine contraception available in Australia: the copper IUD or hormonal IUD. Both are long-acting, reversible and effective forms of contraception that work in different ways to prevent pregnancy.
- More than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy
- Last between five to ten years, depending on type chosen
- Chances of getting pregnant return to normal as soon as it is removed
- Cost-effective when compared to other methods due to how long protection lasts
- ‘Set-and-forget’ method, so great for regular travellers and women would prefer not to adhere to a daily method
- Nylon strings can be adjusted to suit your body and should not be felt by either partner during sex
IUDs do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or HIV/AIDS and condoms should be used if you are at risk.
Intrauterine device options
A hormonal IUD is a small flexible plastic device that is inserted into the uterus. It prevents pregnancy by gradually releasing a progestogen hormone directly into the uterus, which thickens the mucus at the cervix so that sperm cannot get through to meet an egg.
By delivering small amount of progestogen directly to the uterus, it changes the lining of the womb, preventing an egg from implanting.
The hormonal IUD is a very effective type of contraception (99.8%) and can last for up to five years. Because it’s a ‘set-and-forget’ method, there is no difference between typical and perfect use.
You should not use this contraceptive method if you do not want your periods to change. In general, women experience a reduction in the amount of bleeding, the number of bleeding days, and less painful periods.
It is particularly beneficial for women who normally have heavy or long periods.
Hormonal side effects are uncommon but may include acne, headaches, moodiness and weight gain.
If present, these are usually mild and often settle down after the first few months.
The copper IUD is a small T-shaped device made of plastic with copper wire wrapped around it. It is inserted into the uterus not the vagina, which means neither you or your partner should feel it while having sex.
Once inserted it provides very reliable and effective protection against pregnancy for five to ten years, depending on the type chosen, and can be removed by a trained medical practitioner at any time.
Copper IUDs work by releasing copper ions, which kill sperm, and by preventing fertilised eggs from implanting in the uterus – which means they are a non-hormonal form of contraception.
They can also be used as an emergency contraception, as an alternative to the morning after pill, within five days of unprotected intercourse.
The copper IUD is a highly effective type of contraception (99.2% typical use, 99.4% perfect use).
The most common side effects are heavier, more painful or prolonged periods. Some women might also experience light spotting between periods, especially in the first few months after insertion. In most cases these side effects usually improve with time.
Our prices are based on the minimum cost for patients holding a valid Medicare card. Further discounts apply for Healthcare Card holders in many cases. If you have private health insurance, you may also wish to contact them to ask what rebates are available.
Private health rebates
If you do not hold a valid Medicare card, please contact us for a cost estimate, or speak to your private health insurance provider if you hold private health insurance, as rebates may still apply. Check our locations page to find out which clinics are eligible for private health rebates. Rebates apply for copper and hormonal IUD under IV sedation at select clinics.
What to expect
Most importantly, you must ensure that you are not pregnant so either have it inserted during or immediately after your period, or use reliable contraception until it can be fitted.
Some women may find the insertion uncomfortable or feel slightly faint after insertion or removal of the device. This is a normal reaction that should pass within a few minutes. You may take a mild pain killer prior to, or after, the insertion. At some clinics you can also request IV sedation at an additional cost.
To avoid infection, do not insert anything into your vagina for 48 hours following the insertion (i.e. avoid sexual penetration and use pads instead of tampons for at least two days). You will usually be asked to return for a check-up after your first period, about six weeks after insertion, and you should regularly check the string after your period to check the device remains in place.
Sexual activity during this week could result in an unplanned pregnancy once the device is removed. Always see a doctor for removal of an IUD.
It is possible to have a new IUD inserted immediately after the previous one is removed.
A copper IUD is effective immediately after insertion. If you are using another method of contraception and are changing to an IUD, you will need to discuss with your doctor when is the best time for the device to be inserted to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
There are many places to find more information on this method of contraception, including your personalised contraception adviser, a contraceptive quiz you can take online, which helps you find the best method for you.
Alternatively, websites such as Health Direct, a government funded health information service, can also provide accurate, up to date and impartial information.