An intrauterine device (or IUD) is a small T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus (or womb) to prevent pregnancy. It is the most effective form of reversible contraception, and is over 99% effective.
There are 2 types of IUD – copper IUD and hormone containing IUD (Mirena and Kyleena). Both types can last upto 5 years, and there is also a model of copper IUD that can last upto 10 years. The hormonal IUD contains progestogen, which is a synthetic progesterone hormone that women make naturally. This hormonal IUD has the added benefit of reducing heavy periods and thus potentially also reduces period pain. There are advantages and disadvantages with each type of IUD. They will be summarised in another article and should be discussed with your doctor to determine which one is more suitable for you.
How do I make an IUD clinic appointment?
Is there anything I should do before the appointment?
It is a good idea to take some simple painkillers such as Panadol and Nurofen (assuming you do not have any allergy or sensitivity to them) about an hour before the appointment.
We sometimes also recommend taking another medication called Misoprostol 2-3 hours before the insertion. The medication softens the cervix, and may make the procedure easier. Your doctor will prescribe this medication if required.
What to expect during IUD insertion?
For most people, IUD can be inserted with or without local anaesthetics in our OGCG rooms. For people who haven’t given birth before, the insertion can be potentially more difficult and painful, but in general still very possible to achieve in the rooms with pain killers (analgesia) beforehand, and the use of local anaesthetics during the insertion.
The IUD insertion takes place in a dedicated procedure room in our OGCG premise. There will be a practise nurse present to assist the doctor and to support you. Much like what happens during Cervical Screening Test, a speculum is inserted into the vagina to enable the doctor to see the cervix. We often take vaginal swabs at the time of procedure to ensure there is no infection, and will also perform Cervical Screening Test if you are due. The IUD is then inserted into the uterus. Both types of IUDs have a fine nylon thread attached to the end. The thread comes out through the cervix into the top of the vagina. This thread allows you to check later the IUD is still in place, and the doctor will use it when removing the IUD.
After the insertion
It is common to experience some cramping and spotting following the insertion. For most, this may last from a few hours to a few days. Simple painkillers such as Panadol or Nurofen will help to alleviate the discomfort. Most people can drive or take public transport, and can return to work or study straightaway after insertion, although it can be a good idea to have someone accompany you home and rest for a day.
We recommend not having intercourse or use tampons for 48 hours following insertion to prevent infection.
Copper IUD is effective as a contraceptive immediately after insertion, however hormonal IUD takes a week before becoming effective, therefore it is important to use another form of contraception until then.
Please note that whilst IUD is a very effective contraception, it does not prevent sexually transmitted infections. You will still need to use condoms for that.
What to watch out for
You should contact us after the insertion if:
- You experience severe lower abdominal pain, especially if associated with fever
- You experience abnormal vaginal discharge
- You or your sexual partner experience pain with intercourse
- You have a positive pregnancy test or are concerned about being pregnant