The condom and the pill aren't your only options

Long-Acting Contraception
Short-Acting Contraception
Emergency Contraception
Other Options

What is it?

The intrauterine device (IUD) or copper coil is a small soft device with a copper thread or copper cylinders that is inserted into the cavity of your womb by a trained doctor. It can be left in for 3-10 years (depending on the type).

The device sits in your womb, but does not rely on hormones. It is made of plastic and copper and works mainly by preventing sperm from surviving in your womb and reaching an egg. A doctor or nurse will take a few minutes to put the IUD into place. Like the intrauterine system (IUS), you can ask your doctor to remove the copper coil at any time.

How reliable is it?

The IUD is more than 99% effective meaning that less than one woman in every 100 who use the IUD will get pregnant in a year.1

“Perfect use” is the same as “typical use” for the hormonal coil as while it is inserted you do not have to remember to take or use contraception.

Typical use

99% 1



  • It is a reliable long-term option, if you would prefer not to think about birth control on a daily basis
  • It can also be used as an emergency contraceptive for up to 5 days after unprotected sex
  • It can be removed at any time, and your fertility will return immediately to normal
  • It is an option if you cannot or do not want to use hormones
  • You can breastfeed while you are using this method


  • It can cause increase cramping and dizziness on insertion
  • It is not usually the method of choice for women with anaemia, as it may cause heavier and prolonged periods.
  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections

Where can I get it?

You can get a prescription for an IUD from a doctor, Family Planning Clinic or Well Woman Clinic. Well Woman and Family Planning Clinics will also supply the device. The device is then fitted by your doctor, Family Planning Clinic or Well Woman Clinic. Not all doctors will fit devices but they can refer you to someone who does.


1. Trussell J. Contraceptive failure in the United States. Contraception 83 (2011) 397–404.