What is a Copper IUD?

A Copper IUD is one of the most effective methods of preventing pregnancy. It is long-acting, reversible, and it doesn't contain any hormones. A Copper IUD is a fit-it-and-forget-it method of contraception. Once it’s in there, you don’t have to worry about it or think about contraception for up to 10 years.

The device is a tiny ‘T-shaped’ piece of a flexible tube with copper wrapped around it that is put into your uterus. When we say tiny, we mean it - 32mm! You won’t be able to feel it in there.

If you are looking for a non-hormonal, more natural method of contraception, then the Copper IUD might be for you.

How does the Copper IUD work?

A Copper IUD makes it difficult for the sperm to swim and get to the egg. The copper wrapped around the device releases teeny tiny copper ions into your uterus. These copper ions change the environment of your uterus, and the sperm don’t like it.

The copper ions that are released from the device create a sticky mucus in your uterus. The mucus acts like a barrier to stop the sperm from swimming through the opening of your uterus to get to the egg. If the sperm can’t reach the egg, then you can’t get pregnant.

The Copper IUD also changes the way the sperm swim. The copper ions essentially repel the sperm – they turn around and swim the other way. If the sperm can’t meet the egg, you can’t get pregnant.

Getting a copper IUD

How is a Copper IUD fitted?

Getting a Copper IUD is simple. The process is similar to getting a smear test. A speculum is gently inserted into your vagina. The arms of the IUD are folded downwards as it passes through the opening of your uterus - kind of like a stick. Once the IUD is inside your uterus the inserting device is released, and the arms fold upwards to create the ‘T’ like shape. And just like that your IUD is fitted.

Interesting fact: The arms of the device only open as wide as your uterus. The strings of your IUD are cut so that they are only a few cm long and they curl up inside your vagina so you don’t have to worry about them hanging out.  

The insertion only takes a few minutes; all up, your appointment should take no longer than 15 minutes,

What will I feel?

Prior to arriving at your appointment, it is a great idea to take some ibuprofen and/or paracetamol to ease any discomfort you may feel during or after your Copper IUD has been fitted.

The moment the Copper IUD is inserted, you may feel a strong sharp period-like cramp. This is the device going through the opening of your uterus and the arms of the device opening. During these few seconds, take a deep breath in and a long breath out. Within minutes the discomfort should settle.

Once your copper IUD has been fitted, you may feel a little crampy for the rest of the day – just like period cramps. You can continue about your normal day or use it as an excuse to take some time for yourself, curl up on the couch with your favourite book, or binge-watch Netflix.

For the next couple of days, you may have mild cramps and light spotting as your Copper IUD settles into place. This is normal. Some ibuprofen or paracetamol will help ease your discomfort. Within a few days, you won’t even realise that the Copper IUD is there.

What happens to my period with a Copper IUD?

You will still get your period with a Copper IUD, but things may change. Your period might become heavier, longer, irregular, and more crampy. Especially within the first 3 to 6 months of having your copper IUD.

It is also common to experience spotting and bleeding between your periods. This is normal. The Copper IUD releases copper ions, so the changes to your period are not caused by hormones released from the device – as it doesn’t contain any.

You can continue to use tampons or a moon cup if you have a Copper IUD as it is placed further up than these will be inserted. They won’t interfere with it or get in the way of the strings.

When can I have sex?

You can have sex as soon as you feel ready after getting your Copper IUD fitted as it protects you from getting pregnant from the moment it is put in.

A Copper IUD is an amazing form of contraception, but keep in mind that it doesn’t protect you from STIs. Condoms are the only contraception that can stop STIs.

Will the Copper IUD make sex painful?

Sex should be the same. Your Copper IUD shouldn't cause you to experience pain, and your partner shouldn't be able to feel it or the strings. If you do experience any pain due to your IUD, please contact us.

Checking on your Copper IUD

Your Copper IUD has two thin nylon strings attached to it which provide an easy way for you to check it is in place. If you are worried your Copper IUD may have come out, you can always have a feel for the strings. Keep in mind the strings can be buried quite deep.

Getting your Copper IUD removed

When you no longer want your Copper IUD it can easily be removed. The strings on your Copper IUD are there for the same purpose as a string on a tampon “pull to remove” and a s tempting as it may be to pull the strings, it is best left to one of our nurses or doctors.

The process is even easier than getting your Copper IUD fitted. A speculum is gently inserted into your vagina, the strings are pulled, and just like that your Copper IUD is out. When the strings are pulled, the arms of the Copper IUD fold up, and the device becomes like a stick so that it can easily pass through the opening of your uterus to be removed. All up, your appointment should take no longer than 15 minutes.

Once your Copper IUD has been removed, your fertility returns to normal. You will be able to get pregnant straight away.

What happens once my Copper IUD is removed?

Once your Copper IUD is removed, your body and uterus will return to normal almost immediately. You will be in sync with your normal cycle, so your next period should arrive on time.

Does a Copper IUD affect my fertility?

A Copper IUD does not affect your fertility or chances of getting pregnant once it is removed.

Replacing your copper IUD

Your Copper IUD is effective against pregnancy for up to 10 years. If it gets to the end of its life, and you love it so much that you want another one, it can be replaced. We swap the old one for a new one. It can all be done within a 15-minute appointment.

Since you are replacing like for like, your body will adjust to the new device much faster than when you first got it fitted.

It is safe to use a Copper IUD for as long as you like. We will send you a reminder four weeks before your device is due to be changed.

Learn more

IUDs - Mirena

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The Jab

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Other contraception

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Interested in using contraception?

Reach out online or call 0800 226 784 to speak to one of our nurses. We value your decision about your health.

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