Intrauterine Systems or the IUS is an effective, long term and reversible contraceptive method. In the UK and US, Mirena is a popular brand of IUS. An IUS is a small, T-shaped plastic piece and contains levonorgestrel, a type of progestogen (hormone). The IUS is inserted into the womb (uterus) by a trained professional. It releases the hormone progestogen into the womb which makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg and hence preventing pregnancy.Once inserted, it lasts for 5 years.
- Most effective form of reversible contraceptive
- You can choose when to become pregnant by removing it.
- In women with heavy and painful periods, this method makes the periods lighter, shorter or stop altogether.
- Effective for women who cannot use combined contraceptives (with estrogen)
- Effective for 5 years so that you don’t have to use a contraceptive method every time you have sex
- Is safe for breastfeeding mothers.
- Not affected by other medications
- Doesn’t interrupt sex
- During the first 6 months of insertion of IUS, irregular bleeding or spotting may be experienced which fade away with time.
- Headaches, Acne and tenderness of the breast may be experienced in some cases.
- Small cysts may appear on the ovaries. This is quite uncommon and disappear after a couple of months.
- Does not protect against STDs or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Risks of the IUS
IUS may produce complications that are rare and usually happen in the first 6 months of insertion.
Womb Damage: In rare cases, while insertion an IUS can perforate the womb. This may cause pain in the lower abdomen. Contact your doctor if you experience severe pain after insertion.
Infections: In the first couple of weeks after insertion pelvic infections may arise though the risk is very low. You doctor would perform a internal examination before insertion of the IUS to ensure there are no existing infections.
Rejection/Expulsion: In some case IUS is expelled by the body or gets displaced. Your doctor can provide you with instructions on how to check if it is in place.
Ectopic Pregnancy: In case IUS fails and you end up getting pregnant then there is a risk of ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy in the tubes and not uterus). Talk to your doctor in case you want to continue with the pregnancy.
Copper IUD is a non hormonal IUD. It is a long lasting and reversible birth control method. It can be used as a form of emergency contraception and is more effective than the emergency contraceptive pills available. It consists of a T-shaped plastic core wrapped in a copper wire. Once inserted within the uterus, the copper acts as a natural spermicide. It can provide protection against pregnancy for 10-12 years.
The adverse effects of copper IUD are almost the same as that of an hormonal IUD except that when using copper IUD you may experience heavy periods. This is the main reason for removal of copper IUD by most women.