Contraception: The Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
What is it?
An intrauterine device (IUD) is perfect if you want a low maintenance contraceptive. It's a fit-and-forget contraceptive, which means you do not have to remember to use it regularly like condoms or the pill. There are two types of IUDs: the copper coil and a hormone IUD (Mirena and Jaydess.)
Both have T-shaped plastic frames. The hormone IUD has a small reservoir containing the hormone levonorgestrel, while the copper IUD has copper wire wound tightly around the device's stem.
The IUD provides 99% protection against pregnancy when fitted correctly. It's also used for some gynaecological problems like heavy periods. Once fitted, IUDs are effective for 3-5 years, depending on the brand and type.
Ask your gynaecologist to check that an IUD is suitable for your needs and get a prescription. You can then buy the device at a pharmacy. It's likely that the pharmacist will have to order it before it's available for you to purchase.
How is it fitted?
If you've had a vaginal delivery in the past, the copper coil and Mirena can be inserted in a doctor's clinic. The Jaydess is ideal for women who've never given birth vaginally.
The doctor will make sure that you're not pregnant at the time of insertion since an IUD will complicate the pregnancy.
You may be given some local anaesthetic but you'll feel little or no pain during the insertion.
After 3-5 years, the IUD can also be removed, and replaced if necessary, at a doctor's clinic. Again, some local anaesthetic might be used.
How does it feel having an IUD?
You will feel nothing at all. If you insert your fingers in your vagina, you should feel the tips of the strings from the device.
Periods may sometimes stop completely with the hormonal IUD. There may be mildly heavier periods with the copper coil.
Are IUDs abortive?
No, they're not. However, if the IUD fails for some reason and you become pregnant, it might cause some complications to the pregnancy.
How much does it cost?
In Malta, the Mirena currently costs around EUR 180, apart from clinic and consultation fees. The copper coil is cheaper and costs around EUR 80.
Watch this short video to learn more: