Intrauterine device (IUD)
An intrauterine device is a form of long term contraceptive device that is inserted into the womb. IUDs are usually small ‘T’ shaped devices. It is the most effective reversible long term contraception available.
Types of IUD available:
1. Copper IUD
The copper IUD is able to provide long term contraception for up to 5 years. It works by damaging sperms so that fertilization is disrupted. Copper also acts as a spermicide within the uterus, disrupting the motility and viability of sperms.
Besides acting as a form of long term contraception, the copper IUD can also be used as a form of emergency contraception (EC) and is the most effective form of EC available (better than the hormonal EC pills). The copper IUD can be used as an EC up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
2. Hormonal IUD
Hormonal IUDs such as Mirena contain the hormone levonorgestrel which acts by releasing small amount of hormone regularly. This thickens the cervical mucus and while thinning the endometrial lining, making it unfavourable for fertilization and implantation to occur.
As the hormone levonorgestrel causes thinning of the endometrial lining, the Mirena IUD can be used to treat women who experience heavy bleeding (menorrhagia). In the majority of women, bleeding becomes lighter or stops within 6 months after IUD insertion.
Benefits of IUDs:
1. There is no need to take daily contraceptive pills.
2. Most effective form of long term contraception.
3. Cost effective. Though the initial cost of fitting the IUD cost more, the fact that most IUDs can be used for more than 3 years makes them cheaper than other forms of contraception over the same period of time.
4. Quick return of fertility upon removal of the IUD.
5. Can be inserted immediately after delivery or termination of pregnancy.
6. Safe in women who are breastfeeding.
If you would like to find out more about having an IUD or feel that an IUD may be a suitable form of contraception for you, be it as a long term or emergency contraception, please feel free to discuss this with your doctor or visit our clinics.