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.

Key information

  • 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.

IUD Cost

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.

Intrauterine device, local anaesthetic

FROM $200*

Intrauterine device, IV sedation

FROM $450*

* Prices quoted do not include the cost of the device or injection. Please contact us for a detailed quote. If you would like to have an IUD, IUS or a contraceptive implant, removed or replaced, contact us for pricing.

What to expect

An IUD must be inserted by a specially trained doctor and can be inserted by some GPs, at sexual health clinics and at Marie Stopes clinics.

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.

Once you have consented to the procedure, the doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina to view your cervix (the same process as having a cervical screening, also known as a pap smear). A thin, flexible plastic tube is used to insert the IUD into the uterus. The tube is then removed, leaving the device in place and the nylon thread length adjusted to suit you. A small amount of local anaesthetic may be used to numb the cervix prior to the device being fitted, or at your request. The insertion usually only takes a few minutes.

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.

Removal of an IUD is an easier procedure than insertion and it can be removed at any time in your menstrual cycle by a trained doctor. However, if you do not want to become pregnant it is important to use an alternative method of contraception in the week leading up to the removal of the device.

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.

This depends on whether a hormonal or copper IUD is used. If a hormonal IUD is inserted in the first seven days of your menstrual cycle (where day one is the first day of your period) then it is effective immediately, otherwise another type of contraception (such as condoms) should be used for the next seven days to avoid unplanned pregnancy.

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.

Yes, IUD are widely considered a safe method of contraception in breastfeeding women and can be inserted 4 weeks after you give birth.
IUDs have two fine nylon strings attached to them which, when in place, come out through the cervix. It is important for you to learn how to feel for the strings of the device yourself to check that it remains correctly in place. At your consultation your doctor will explain how and when to do this.
Neither you or your partner should be aware of the IUD during sex. If you experience any discomfort you should have the positioning checked by your doctor.
Before having an IUD inserted you must inform your doctor if you: might be pregnant; have had a history of any unusual vaginal bleeding or painful or heavy periods; have fibroids or other abnormalities in the uterus; have an existing sexually transmitted disease (STI) or pelvic infection; have had an abnormal cervical screening (pap smear) and are waiting for treatment; are allergic to copper or have Wilson’s disease (if you want the copper IUD); or have had previous problems using an IUD. Your doctor will talk with you about your IUD contraception options and help you determine the best method for you.
Once an IUD is removed there is no delay in a return to previous fertility. Therefore, it is important that you start using another method in the week preceding the removal of an IUD, if you are not having it replaced, and if you do not wish to get pregnant.
If you have any concerns at all following insertion, replacement or removal, please call our 24-hour aftercare service on 1300 003 707 to speak to a registered nurse.

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.

Speak to our friendly staff to make an appointment or book online