Intrauterine Device (IUD)
There are two types of hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs) available in Australia. We are not allowed to name the brands due to advertising restrictions so let's call them the M IUD (52mg levonorgestrel) and K IUD (19.5mg levonorgestrel) . They are small plastic T-shaped devices with a hormone called levonorgestrel in their stem. K is slightly smaller than M and contains a slightly lower amount of hormone. It's placed inside the uterus to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. A fine nylon thread is attached to the IUD - the thread comes out through the cervix into the top end of the vagina. Both types of hormonal IUD lasts for 5 years.
The IUD is placed inside the uterus by a trained doctor. The hormonal IUD:
- stops sperm from fertilising the egg
- makes the mucus in the cervix thicker so that sperm can't get into the uterus
- changes the wall of the uterus, making it hard for an egg to attach to the wall
Hormonal IUDs are perfect for women who want a reliable, long-term contraceptive.
Both types can be used by women who have heavy periods but M IUD is proven to be very effective at reducing bleeding during your period. Both types usually makes bleeding much lighter and sometimes periods stop all together (this is more likely with M IUD than K IUD).
Fertility goes back to normal once the IUD is taken out and is suitable for both women who have had children and women who have not had children.
Only a specially trained doctor can put in an IUD.
You will typically need three visits.
The first visit will be your assessment in which you will be assessed in terms of your suitability for an IUD. All risks and side effects will be discussed and consent form signed. A script will be provided and appointment for insertion arranged. This appointment is between 20-30 minutes.
The second visit will be for your insertion. The insertion takes about 10 mins but you will be in the clinic for 20-30 minutes. We can also do your cervical screening test (previously known as pap smear) if this is due.
The third visit will be a 6 week followup to check the IUD strings and see how you are doing. This is typically a 10 minute appointment.
The hormonal IUD can stay in for 5 years but it can be taken out sooner. Your usual doctor can take it out. The doctor will remove the IUD by gently pulling on the string. This only takes a couple of minutes. Some people find it a little uncomfortable. If you want another hormonal IUD, the old one can be taken out and a new one put in at the same visit.