An IUD (intrauterine device) is a small T-shaped plastic and copper device that’s inserted into your womb (uterus) by a specially trained doctor or nurse. 

The IUD is a long-acting reversible method of contraception (LARC). This means that once it's in place you don't have to think about it each day or each time you have sex.

What are the benefits of using an IUD?

  • It can be more than 99 per cent effective.
  • It doesn't interrupt sex.
  • It can be used if you're breastfeeding.
  • It's not affected by other medicines.
  • It works as soon as it's put in, and lasts for five to 10 years, depending on the type.
  • It can be put in at any time during your menstrual cycle, as long as you're not pregnant.
  • It can be removed at any time by a specially trained doctor or nurse.

Things to consider

  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Changes to your periods (for example, being heavier, longer or more painful) are common in the first three to six months after it is put in.
  • There's a very small chance of infection within 20 days of it being fitted.
  • There's a risk that your body may expel the IUD.
  • If you get pregnant, there's an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy. But because you're unlikely to get pregnant, the overall risk of ectopic pregnancy is lower than in women who don't use contraception. 
  • Having it put in can be uncomfortable. Ask the doctor or nurse about pain relief.
  • It may not be suitable for you if you've had previous pelvic infections.
  • The most common reasons that women stop using an IUD are vaginal bleeding and pain.

Where can I get more information?

The Family Planning Association provides a range of helpful information.

My contraception tool

The FPA has developed an interactive tool that can help you find out which methods of contraception may be best for you.

The tool asks questions about your health, lifestyle and contraceptive preferences. All your answers are completely confidential and can't be linked back to you. The tool is available on their website.

Find out more