The hormonal IUD is a small ‘T’ shaped plastic device. It’s placed inside the uterus by a specially trained doctor or nurse to release small amounts of the hormone progestogen for up to five years.
How does it work?
- Thickens the mucus at the entrance to the uterus (cervix) to stop sperm from moving into the uterus.
- Thins the lining of the uterus to stop a fertilised egg implanting.
- Sometimes stops the ovaries from releasing an egg.
How well does it work?
The hormonal IUD is 99.8% effective at preventing pregnancy.
The hormonal IUD prevents unplanned pregnancy for up to 5 years.
What are the benefits?
- You don’t have to remember to take a pill every day.
- Periods usually become lighter and sometimes stop altogether.
- Starts working right away if it’s put in during the first seven days of your period.
- Fertility returns as soon as it’s taken out.
- Safe to use if you’re breastfeeding or can’t take oestrogen.
- An inexpensive form of contraception in the long term if you have a Medicare card.
What are the downsides?
- Hormonal IUDs don’t protect against STIs but you can use condoms at the same time.
- You may experience some irregular vaginal bleeding in the first few months.
- Putting the IUD into the uterus can be a bit painful, especially if you haven’t had children yet.
- There is 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.
Are there side effects?
Serious problems are rare with the hormonal IUD. You may experience:
- cramping when it’s put in
- an increase in vaginal discharge
Other side effects are rare because of the low dose of hormones, but you may notice similar side effects to the progestogen-only pill (POP).
Can anyone use a hormonal IUD?
Most women can use a hormonal IUD but they are not usually the first contraceptive choice for young women who haven’t been pregnant.
Where do you get it?
A hormonal 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 a gynaecologist.