Anyone who has a womb, who has sex, or who wants to reduce heavy periods. The IUS may not be suitable for people who have had breast cancer, cervical cancer, liver disease, a history of heart attacks or strokes, unexplained bleeding after sex, untreated STI’s and/or problems with their womb and cervix.
An IUS is a T-shaped plastic device that’s placed in the womb by a nurse or doctor. It prevents pregnancy with a 99% effective rate. The IUS is similar to the IUD, but instead of releasing copper like the IUD, it releases the hormone progesterone into the womb. It thickens the cervical mucus, which makes it more difficult for sperm to move through the cervix, and thins the lining of the womb so an egg is less likely to implant itself. Some people choose the IUS because it can lighten, shorten or stop periods
It can last 3 or 5 years, depending on the brand. Although you can get it removed at any point if you decide you no longer want it.
If you're 45 or older when you have the IUS fitted, it can be left in until you reach the menopause or no longer need contraception.
An IUS can be fitted by an experienced GP or nurse straight after an abortion or miscarriage. You'll be protected against pregnancy immediately.
It's very useful for people who find it difficult to remember to take a pill at the same time every day.
It can be taken by some women who cannot use contraception that contains oestrogen, such as the combined pill, contraceptive patch and the contraceptive vaginal ring.
It can cause temporary side effects such as skin problems, headaches or breast tenderness. There is a small risk of getting an infection after the IUS is inserted, and there is also a small risk of the IUS becoming pushed out or the IUS being displaced. There is a very small risk of tearing of the uterus.
If you do become pregnant while you are using the IUS there is a small risk of ectopic pregnancy
In the UK, you can get an IUS for free, even if you’re under 16 years old. You can get an IUS from Contraception Clinics, Sexual Health Clinics or GP surgeries.
The IUS can be fitted at any time during your menstrual cycle. If it's fitted in the first 7 days of your cycle, you'll be protected against pregnancy straight away. If it's fitted at any other time, use additional contraception, such as condoms, for 7 days afterwards.
Before an IUS is fitted, a GP or nurse will check inside your vagina to check the position and size of your womb. You may be tested for any existing infections and STIs. The appointment takes about 15-20 mins, and fitting the IUD normally doesn’t take longer than 5 minutes. The fitting can be uncomfortable, and a local anaesthetic can be given to help you. Chat to your GP about this before the appointment. You will have a follow up appointment with your GP after 3 to 6 weeks to check that everything is fine.
real life experiences
"I didn't need contraception, but I wanted to stop my periods. I was going travelling for 3 months and thought the easiest option was just to stop my periods rather than worrying about finding toilets and sanitary products when I was abroad. I booked to see my GP and she talked me through the risks and the procedure, then helped me book the appointment. She gave me a few bits of advice too like wearing a skirt to the appointment and putting a pad in my pants just incase there was any spots of blood. At my appointment to get the Mirena inserted, there was the GP and a nurse. They were both so friendly and chatty. I was asked to go behind the curtain and take off my pants and then lie down on the bed. I just pulled my skirt up around my waist so I didn't feel so exposed, but honestly they were so calm and made me feel at ease. She put a big light infront of my vulva which was a new experience, but she's probably seen hundreds of vulvas before! She put some numbing gel on, then started the procedure. They were checking in with me the whole time and all I really felt was a tiny pinch inside, but it wasn't painful. It was finished with pretty quickly and they told me to stay lying down for a few minutes incase I felt dizzy, but I felt fine! I walked home feeling so grown up and proud of myself. The only discomfort I had felt was like mild period pain for a day or two. The first few periods were much shorter and much lighter, and then they stopped completely. I'm now 4 years in and my periods have come back, but they are still much lighter than usual. I'll probably get it again next year." Joy, she/her
"I had spent a number of years on the pill and whilst I was studying abroad it ran out. Because I wasn't having sex I decided not to renew my prescription. Only after coming off it I realised I had spent most of my adult life on the pill and it had really affected my mental health and almost felt like I'd been depressed my whole life and I hadn't even realised. When I came back to the UK I decided to choose another form of long term contraception. Everything sounds great about the IUS, but I was really nervous about how painful it would be to insert. After speaking to the nurse about my concerns, she assured me that it isn't that painful and said most of the nurses in the sexual health clinic had chosen this form of contraception. This convinced me to pick the IUS.
An IUS is a small, T shaped plastic device that's put into your womb. It releases the hormone progestogen and mine works for 5 years before needing to be replaced. It works by thickening the cervical mucus making it difficult for sperm to move though the cervix and thins the lining of the womb so an egg is less likely to implant itself
It was inserted by a nurse at a sexual health clinic, altogether the procedure took less than 5 minutes. I would describe it as uncomfortable, similar to a very bad period pain. Once it was inserted, I experienced period pain like cramps for a day. After that I have had no pain or side effects at all.
The reason I chose the hormonal over the non-hormonal coil was there is a chance it can stop your periods or make them lighter, this was appealing to me as I have quite painful periods. Initially my periods stopped altogether but after about a year they have come back and they are regular but lighter than previously. Although a hormone is still being released, it only acts locally and therefore the dose is significantly lower than that of the pill. Therefore, I no longer experience any side effect relating to mood swings or mental health.
I love the IUS and could not recommend it highly enough. You can't forget to take it like the pill, it is long term so does not have to be replaced for 5 years. Once it is removed you are able to get pregnant straight away. The very short term discomfort of it's insertion is overweighed by all it's benefit" Poppy, she/her