Hormonal IUD (IUS)
The hormonal IUD (otherwise known as Levonorgestral Intrauterine System or IUS) is is a T-shaped plastic device that steadily releases small amounts of a hormone (progestin) into your body each day.
It is similar to an IUD except that it contains hormones. It works for up to 5 years.
It works by thinning out the lining of your womb which prevents the fertilized egg settling down for pregnancy. This is not harmful and does not affect your long-term fertility. It also makes it harder for the man's sperm to get into the womb. It stops working as soon as it is taken out.
Note: Condoms are the only contraceptive methods which also protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend "dual protection". This means using a contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy in addition to a male or female condom.
How good is the IUS at preventing a pregnancy?
- The IUS works very well at preventing a pregnancy. If one hundred women used the IUS for a year and carried on with their normal sex life then 99.8% of those women would not fall pregnant during that period.
What are the advantages of the IUS?
- The IUS is easy to use. Once in place, you do not need to think about it until it needs replacing. The IUS can last up to five years.
- An IUS requires a simple, small procedure to fit and remove it.
- You can get the IUS removed whenever you want. Your previous fertility will return within one month after the IUS is removed.
- The IUS is great for women with heavy or painful periods as it usually makes periods lighter and less painful. Lighter or no monthly bleeding is not harmful to your body and will not affect future fertility.
- It can be placed in your womb at the time of an abortion procedure, and works as soon as you put it in.
- It does not interrupt sex. Neither you nor your partner should be aware of the IUS during sex. If you experience any discomfort you should have the positioning of your IUS checked by your provider.
What are the disadvantages of the IUS?
- The most common side effects of the IUS are lighter and fewer days of bleeding, and some irregular bleeding. Some users stop having a monthly period. Bleeding changes should settle within the first few months of use.
- You will need to be examined six weeks after the IUS is fitted to check it is in the right place.
- Unlike condoms, the IUS does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections such as HIV.
- A small number of women may experience other side effects due to the hormone, such as acne, headaches, breast tenderness, nausea, weight gain, dizziness or mood changes. These usually settle down after the first few months of use.
How do I know the IUS is still in place?
It is rare for the IUS to fall out or move. Most women can self-examine and feel the small, very thin thread attached to the end of the IUS which comes out of the cervix and into the vagina. When you have the IUS inserted make sure your carer shows you how to find the thread so you feel confident to find it again.
What are the possible risks / complications for this method?
- Damage to the womb
- Device falls out and needs to be reinserted
- Heavy monthly bleeding leading to anaemia