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Copper IUD (intrauterine device)

The Copper IUD is a small plastic and copper device. It’s placed inside the uterus by a specially trained doctor or nurse and stays there for 5 or 10 years depending on the type.

How does it work?

  • Affects sperm movement and survival so they can’t move through the uterus to reach and fertilise an egg.
  • Stops a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus.

How well does it work?

The Copper IUD is 99.2 – 99.4% effective at preventing pregnancy.

What are the benefits?

  • You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
  • It starts working right away.
  • Fertility returns as soon as it’s taken out.
  • Doesn’t contain any hormones.
  • Safe to use if you’re breastfeeding or can’t use hormonal methods of contraception.

IUDs can be used by most women, including young women.

What are the downsides?

  • Copper IUDs don’t protect against STIs but you can use condoms at the same time.
  • Putting the IUD into the uterus can be a bit painful, especially if you haven’t had children yet.
  • There’s a small chance of infection in the first three weeks after it’s inserted which could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) – PID may rarely affect fertility later on.
  • Periods could be heavier, last longer and be more painful than before.

Are there side effects?

Serious health problems are rare with the copper IUD. You may experience:

  • cramping when it’s put in
  • heavier periods which last longer
  • an increase in vaginal discharge

Can anyone use a Copper IUD?

Most women can use a Copper IUD but they are not usually the first contraceptive choice for young women.

Where do you get it?

A Copper IUD must be inserted and removed by a trained doctor or nurse. This can be done at a Family Planning clinic, by some doctors or by a gynaecologist.

Copper IUD

Copper IUD