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Copper IUD, Cu-IUD
An intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) is one of the long acting reversible contraceptive methods (LARCs). It is a small device which is fitted inside the uterus, where it can remain for lengthy periods to prevent pregnancy. Copper IUDs are made of plastic and copper. There are 2 types of copper IUDs currently available in Australia.
Once inserted, they are not felt by the woman or her partner. All IUDs available in Australia have fine nylon threads attached to the lower end of them so that when fitted, the threads extend through the cervix (neck of the womb) into the upper vagina. These threads allow the woman to check that the IUD is still in place and allow for easy removal by a doctor.
IUDs work by:
The copper IUD is at least 99% effective. This means that, on average, if 100 women use an IUD for 1 year, it is possible that 1 of them could become pregnant.
Possible risks associated with ongoing use of an IUD:
Most women can safely use an IUD. Your doctor will review the suitability of the method with you prior to insertion.
In assessing your suitability, consideration is given to a number of important factors:
Prior to insertion, an assessment of your medical history and suitability for this method will happen. This assessment enables you to ask any questions you may have and be certain that it is the most suitable method for you.
Insertion of an IUD involves a procedure. Some women find insertion uncomfortable. This can be managed with the use of local anaesthetic into the cervix. If there are reasons to anticipate difficulties then a woman may choose or be advised to have a sedative or general anaesthetic.
The device should be inserted by a medical practitioner trained in the procedure.
You will be given details of follow up at the time of the insertion. Generally, you are asked to attend for a follow up visit after insertion and/or any time concerns exist.
You should contact your doctor if:
The IUD needs to be replaced with a new device every 5 or 10 years depending on which device is inserted. However, if you have a copper IUD inserted after the age of 40, this expiry date can often be extended and the same device left in for a longer period of time. This is because you have a lower risk of falling pregnant in your late 40s and 50s. Please discuss further with your medical practitioner.
It is important to keep a record of the date that replacement is due or remember a landmark event to arrange for replacement no later than this date. The IUD can easily be removed at any time. As fertility can return immediately after removal, it is important to consider alternative methods of contraception, before the IUD is removed, if trying to avoid pregnancy.
In some circumstances a copper IUD can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy occurring. It can be left in place to provide ongoing contraception or removed after a normal period.