The intrauterine system (IUS) or hormonal coil is a small soft plastic device containing the hormone progestogen which is inserted into your womb. If you decide to use this method, a doctor or nurse will take about five minutes to place an IUS system inside you, and it lasts for 3 to 5 years. A small dose of progestogen is continuously released slowly from the system on a daily basis.
The IUS prevents pregnancy by thickening cervical mucus at the entrance of the womb, making it difficult for sperm to get through. It also thins the lining of the womb to prevent an egg from being implanted, and in some women, ovulation is stopped.
The IUS is more than 99% effective meaning that less than one woman in every 100 who use the IUS 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.
- It is a reliable long-term option, if you prefer not to think about birth control on a daily basis
- It can be used by women of all ages; whether you have had children or not
- It may suit you if you cannot tolerate estrogens
- You can breastfeed while you are using this method
- It can be removed at any time and your fertility (ability to get pregnant) will return to normal once you have it removed
- The 5 year IUS may improve heavy and painful periods and give protection against abnormal growth of the womb lining during estrogen replacement.
- You will have shorter and lighter periods with both the 3 & 5 year IUS
- You may experience irregular bleeding for the first few months, but this should soon settle down
- Some women may experience common hormonal side effects such as headaches, breast tenderness and abdominal discomfort
- It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections
You can get a prescription for an IUS from a doctor, Family Planning Clinic or Well Woman Clinic. You then bring this to a Pharmacy where you can buy the device. For Medical Card patients the device is available on the GMS (General Medical Services). 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.