Non-hormonal coil (IUD)

An IUD is a small, flexible plastic and copper device that’s put into your uterus.

Intrauterine device / IUD (Copper Coil): an overview

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, flexible plastic and copper device that's put into your uterus (womb).

It is sometimes called a 'coil' or 'copper coil.' There are different types and sizes.

It has two thin threads on the end that hang through your cervix (the entrance to the uterus), which is at the top of your vagina.

The copper in the coil (IUD) stops sperm and eggs from surviving. It also changes your cervical mucus to stop sperm from reaching an egg. It may also stop fertilised eggs from implanting in the womb.

An IUD does not cause an abortion. It does NOT protect against STIs, so with a coil use of external or internal condoms are encouraged to protect yourself.

You can get a coil fitted at a sexual health clinic, at some GPs, and at Primary Care Networks across Liverpool. An appointment is usually necessary unless it is an emergency.

You can book an appointment for contraception at axess here.

Lasts for
5 to 10 years
Bleed cycle

*for perfect use (typical use 99.2%)

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it last?

A copper coil works for contraception for 5 or 10 years, depending on the type used. If you're aged 40 or older when the IUD is fitted, it will work for contraception until after the menopause (or up to age 55 years), when contraception is no longer needed.

How will it affect my bleeding pattern?

With a copper coil, you continue with your natural cycle and usual periods as it does not have any hormones.

Some people may find their periods are heavier, longer, or more painful. This may improve after a few months.

If you like this method, but are experiencing this, you may take medication when you are on your period which may ease this. You can easily get this from your family doctor (GP).

How effective is a copper coil (IUD)?

A coil is one of the most effective methods of contraception.

It is a Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC). These are usually more reliable, as the user needs to do very little for it to remain effective (for example, remembering to take tablets).

What are the advantages of a copper coil?

The advantages of a copper coil include:

  • It works as soon as it is put in
  • It works for five or ten years, depending on type
  • It does not contain any hormones
  • You do not have to prepare for, or interrupt, sex
  • You do not have to remember something every day or month
  • It works better as "emergency contraception" than taking emergency contraception pills
  • It can be used if you're breast feeding
  • It's not affected by other medicines
  • Your fertility returns to normal as soon as the copper coil is taken out
Are there any disadvantages of using the copper coil?

Some people find their periods may be heavier, longer, or more painful. This may improve after a few months. You can take medication which will ease these symptoms.

You'll need an internal examination to fit the copper coil and you are encouraged to feel for the threads yourself, monthly.

The copper coil does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections, so you may need to use condoms as well.

The copper coil does not increase your risk of sexually transmitted infection (STI), but if you get an STI when a copper coil is in place, it could lead to a pelvic infection if not treated.

Is a copper coil suitable for me?

Most women can use a copper coil, but you will be asked about your family and medical history to determine the best method for you.

It is a good alternative for women who can't take, or do not want to take, the hormones oestrogen or progestogen.

It may not be suitable for those who have, or have had, certain health conditions, including the following:

  • Cardia arrythmias
  • Heavy periods
  • Allergy to copper
  • Pelvic infection
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding
  • Fibroids
When can it be fitted?

If there is no pregnancy risk, a coil can be fitted at any time during your cycle.

If you have had sex without a condom and you are not on any other contraception, you may have to wait for three weeks after the sex before a coil can be fitted.

However, a copper coil can be fitted as emergency contraception within five days of unprotected sex, or five days after ovulation (releasing an egg).

When will it be effective?

Once a copper coil is fitted, it works straight away for contraception.

Are there any side effects of a copper coil?

In addition to the side effects for all coils, a copper coil may cause irregular bleeding for six months in some people.

Can I use a copper coil if I am approaching menopause?

If you are 40 years old or older when a copper coil is fitted, you can keep the same one until you reach menopause, you no longer need contraception, or you are 55 years of age.

Could I be allergic to a copper coil?

A copper coil should not be used by those allergic to copper.

Will a copper coil affect my future fertility?

Fertility will return to normal when the copper coil is removed.

I have health conditions. Can I have a coil?

A coil may not be suitable if you have any of the following:

  • Problems with your womb or the neck of your womb
  • Unexplained bleeding between periods or after sex
  • An untreated STI or pelvic infection
  • Women with some heart problems