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Intrauterine device (IUD)

What it is

Small plastic and copper device, sometimes T-shaped, which is inserted into the womb. Also available is the intrauterine contraceptive implant, which consists of copper beads threaded on to a length of nylon, which is attached to the top of the womb.

How it works

The IUD stops sperm meeting an egg, or may stop an egg implanting in the womb.


  • Does not interrupt sex.
  • Works immediately.
  • Works for between 3-10 years depending on the type of IUD fitted.


  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Periods may be heavier, more painful or last longer.
  • If it fails, there is a risk that a pregnancy will develop in the fallopian tube (known as an ectopic pregnancy).

How effective is it?

98-99% effective depending on the type of IUD. This means that between 1 and 2 women in every 100 women who use an IUD will get pregnant each year.

What makes it less effective?

If the IUD moves out of place it will be less effective. Regular check-ups are important.

Can anyone use this method?

The IUD is not suitable for all women. A doctor or nurse will need to know about a woman's medical history and any illnesses suffered by immediate members of her family, to find out if there are any medical reasons why it might not be suitable.

Where can you get them?

Click here for local clinics or from GPs.

For more information visit: http://www.fpa.org.uk/contraception-help/iud-intrauterine-device