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An IUCD is placed in the uterus (or womb) to prevent pregnancy by stopping an egg from being fertilized or implanting into the womb.

It is a small device that can be left in the body for 5 to 10 years. Therefore it can also be used as a form of regular contraception to prevent pregnancy over the 5 to 10 years.

It can also be used as a form of emergency contraception by inserting the IUCD within 5 days after unprotected sex. It is the most effective form of emergency contraception because it will prevent 99% of pregnancies.

How is an IUCD inserted?

Insertion of an IUCD takes approximately 10 minutes. It involves you lying on a couch while a speculum is inserted into the vagina and local anaesthetic is placed into the cervix to numb the area. The depth of the uterus is then measured with a 'sound'. This is a fine probe which allows us to insert the IUCD to the correct depth. The IUCD will then be inserted through the cervix into the cavity of the uterus where it is to be held in place. Two fine threads will remain in the vagina, just beyond the cervix, which can be used to check the position of the IUCD. The thread is then trimmed and it is usually advisable for you to rest on the couch for a few minutes afterwards, as you may feel slightly faint during the procedure. After insertion, we recommend that you sit in the waiting room for 15-30 minutes.

There are 2 types of IUCD: a hormonal IUCD or a copper IUCD.

The copper IUCD releases copper particles to prevent pregnancy, while the hormonal IUCD releases the hormone pregestin to prevent pregnancy.

Advantages include:

  • Inexpensive
  • Effective in preventing pregnancy for 5-10 years
  • Convenient
  • It starts working straight away after insertion
  • Mothers can breastfeed with IUCD's

However, if you have an IUCD inserted, you may experience these side effects:

  • Cramps and a backache for the first few hours after IUCD insertion
  • Bleeding and pain for a couple of weeks after insertion
  • Heavier periods (if you are using the copper IUCD)

It is very important to note that IUCD's do not protect you from getting sexually transmitted infections. You should always use condoms during sexual intercourse to protect yourself from catching an infection.

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