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The Intrauterine coil intrauterine system (IUS)

An intrauterine system (IUS) such as the Mirena coil is a type of contraceptive (it is used for family planning). Sometimes it is called a hormonal coil.

Your specially trained female IPSA Medical practitioner will insert a small, plastic, T-shaped IUS into your womb.

Your IUS will then release the hormone progestogen into your womb (your uterus) and it is effective because it thickens up the mucus present in your cervix, making it hard for any sperm to pass through your cervix and thus reach your eggs.

This type of contraceptive device is effective for 5 years and you will be relieved of having to think about contraception before having sex or having to take contraceptives on a daily basis.

What is the Intrauterine coil?

In the United Kingdom, the brand name of the IUS device that is commonly used is ‘Mirena’.

Facts about IUSs: Advantages

  • An IUS is more than 99% effective as contraception
  • In those women suffering from painful and/or heavy periods, an IUS can help by making your periods lighter/shorter or even by stopping them altogether
  • Your specially trained IPSA Medical clinician can remove your coil at any point, with your fertility quickly returning to normal
  • An IUS can be fitted if you have had children, or if you have never had children
  • The IUS is appropriate for women who have issues when using combined contraception (e.g. the combined contraceptive pill), such as those women who suffer from migraine headaches
  • Once inserted, you do not need to consider contraception every time you have sexual intercourse and you don’t have to remember to take daily contraceptive pills, for example
  • Your IUS can be put in at any time in your menstrual cycle (but not if you are pregnant), but you will need to use other protection (e.g. a condom) if it is fitted outside of the 7 days from your period starting

Facts about IUSs: Disadvantages

  • An IUS can have side effects: e.g. skin problems (like acne), breast tenderness, and mood swings
  • A small infection risk exists post-insertion
  • Fitting the IUS can be uncomfortable (and at your IPSA Medical clinic you will be offered painkillers)
  • You have immediate pregnancy protection when your IUS is fitted within 7 days of your period starting
  • Your IUS does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections or STIs: you will need to use a condom for protection against STIs

Will my coil be fitted at my IPSA Medical clinic?

Yes. Before fitting your coil at your IPSA Medical clinic, both the position/size of your womb needs determined. This involves having an internal examination, which is undertaken by your IPSA Medical specialist to ensure that your coil will be inserted correctly. At your IPSA Medical clinic, your IPSA Medical practitioner is skilled at coil fitting and the clinic atmosphere is safe, private and conducive for such procedures. Your IPSA Medical clinician might test you for infections (e.g. STIs), as it is best that infections you have before having your coil fitted are dealt with. You might sometimes be prescribed an antibiotic course by your IPSA Medical practitioner when your coil is fitted.

Your coil takes 15–20 minutes to put in place. As with cervical smear tests, your vagina is kept open during the fitting process, and your coil is introduced into your uterus (womb) via your cervix.

The coil-fitting process can be uncomfortable and you might get some cramps afterwards.

If any of the following symptoms appear after your IUS fitting, then visit your IPSA Medical clinician at once, because you could have developed an infection: smelly discharge, a high temperature or pain in the region of your lower abdomen.

How to tell if your IUS is still in the correct place

There are two fairly thin IUS threads that hang slightly downwards from your womb and into the top area of your vagina. Your IPSA Medical clinician will also teach you to self-check your IUS is in the correct position by feeling for these threads.

IUS advantages/disadvantages

An IUS is an effective contraceptive method. There are some things you might like to consider before you have your IUS fitted.

IUS advantages

  • Your IUS is fully effective for 5 years
  • Your IUS doesn’t interrupt sexual intercourse
  • The IUS is currently one of the UK’s most effective forms of contraception
  • Breastfeeding women can safely use IUSs
  • Your IUS is not affected by medications
  • If the combined pill containing oestrogen is not suitable for you, then the IUS is a possible alternative for you
  • Once your IUS has been removed, your fertility rapidly returns to its pre-IUS level
  • Your periods can stop following one year of having your IUS in place; if you have painful/heavy periods then the IUS can shorten or lighten your periods and can also make them less painful

IUS disadvantages

  • Your periods can completely stop, become irregular, or become lighter
  • Irregular spotting/bleeding is common for 6 months after coil insertion; however, this tends to lessen over time
  • Some women develop acne, have tender breasts or headaches following IUS insertion
  • Your IUS is not a form of STI protection, so you will need to use an alternative form of protection such as a condom for that purpose

Are there any IUS risks?

Complications that can arise following your IUS being inserted are uncommon, tending to occur in the six months after you have been fitted with your IUS:

Ectopic pregnancy: Your IUS must be removed at once if you do happen to fall pregnant and if you do want to continue with your pregnancy.

Pelvic infections: For 20 days post-IUS insertion, you have a slight risk (of less than 1 in 100 low STI risk women) of getting a pelvic infection.

Womb damage: For 1 in every 1000 women being fitted with an IUS, the IUS can perforate/make a hole in your womb or the neck of your womb (your cervix). Perforation is thus an extremely low risk.

Rejection: On very rare occasions, your womb can expel or reject your IUS or your IUS can move position, which is termed ‘displacement’. This is both uncommon and most likely to occur just after your IUS fitting.

If you are considering the Mirena coil as your chosen contraceptive, then book your IPSA Medical Mirena coil consultation today.

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