Healthy living

Intra-uterine device (IUD)

An intra-uterine device (IUD) is a small plastic object, containing either copper or a hormone. It is placed inside a woman’s uterus by a doctor, and left in place for 5 to 8 years. It stops the sperm reaching the egg, and also prevents a fertilised egg from attaching to the lining of the uterus.


  • It is very convenient and cheap because it lasts up to 8 years, although the effectiveness may be slightly lower after 5 years.
  • It can be removed at any time, with fertility returning quickly for most women.

Things to consider

  • You must visit a doctor or health service to have it fitted.
  • The IUD may not be suitable for some women.
  • Sometimes there is pain or discomfort when it is inserted, and from time to time once in place.
  • Periods may be heavier with more cramps.
  • Each month you must check that the IUD is still in place. Your doctor will show you how to do this.
  • Pelvic infection can be a risk for some women, which could lead to infertility in the future.
  • If you have any unusual bleeding or pain, you must check with your doctor or health service.
  • The cost of an IUD, plus a doctor’s visit may be a lot to pay at 1 time.
  • If there is any chance you are pregnant, you must see your doctor, as there could be complications such as miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Some IUDs, called intra-uterine system (IUS) also contain a slow releasing progestogen. These are more expensive, but may be suitable for women who have very heavy periods. Ask your doctor or health service for more information.
  • IUDs are very effective contraceptives, but will not protect you against STIs or HIV.

Where to get help


Sexual Health and Blood-borne Virus Program, Public Health

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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